Posts from the ‘sound’ Category

On a late winter day in 1922, the sound of a gun shot resounded with a loud boom in the hills surrounding the house of three-year-old Edgar Curtis. The sound itself wasn’t out of the ordinary, since the Curtises lived near a firing range. What was extraordinary was the question the boy turned to ask his mother: “What is that big, black noise?”  A few days later, when his mother was putting him to bed, Edgar heard the chirping of a shrill cricket and demanded, “What is that little white noise?” For Edgar, low, rhythmic notes were dark in color. High-pitched sounds were pale, and, researchers later discovered, tones in between were variously red, blue, and purple. A rainbow was “a song.”  Edgar Curtis’ story is an early example in the scientific literature of synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon in which one or more sensory modalities are linked. “There are many different forms,”  says David Eagleman, a neuroscientist known for his ability to garner important insights into the nature of perception and consciousness through idiosyncratic methods. “Essentially, any cross-blending of the senses that you can think of, my colleagues and I have found a case somewhere.” 
Synesthesia seems like an awesome thing to have. Not sure if living in a city would be beautiful or a bad acid trip. Anybody have synesthesia (of any type)? What’s it like?

The Wonderful World of Synesthesia

Researchers at UCLA have been studying the effect of music on human emotions. Specifically, what emotions dissonant (harsh, jarring, inharmonious) music invokes in us. They found that distortion and sharp changes in frequency generally made us feel more excited and carried negative emotions. It’s why rock music makes us so excited and the sound from the shower scene in Psycho is so scary. 

“This study helps explain why the distortion of rock ‘n’ roll gets people excited: It brings out the animal in us,” said Bryant.

As an explanation, the group believes that distorted music brings up the long-engraved fear and excitement rush of hearing an animal in distress. Most distress calls involve a sudden, unnatural expulsion of air through the voice box. The result is a distorted version of their normal sounds.