Extra Credit/Sound and Science/ Kelly Tseng

I would define myself as a lover of music– music of all genres.  I have always found music as my means of escaping from reality.  Back in high school I joined the symphonic orchestra because I knew that it would be a great way to not only express myself, but to relieve my pent-up stress as well.  Thus, I was rather quite excited to attend the two sessions of the Sound + Science Symposium last Friday.  The topics to be discussed enveloped a trans-disciplinary investigation of scientif research and technological breakthroughs concerned with sound, aurality, and hearing.

The first session was Re(a)sonance byVeit Erlmann.  He introduced some very fascinating topics about the mind and body and how the only method of separating these two very distinct entities is through reasoning.  He noted that reason-ance was the process of reasoning and resonating at the same time.  Veit’s presentation also encompassed topics about resonance theories of pitch perception and patterns of vibrations on the brain.  He talked about Claude Perrault who made a valuable contribution in the acoustics by writing an exteded essay on sound and hearing.  His treatise on sound was a part of the book Oeuvres diverses de Physique et de Mecanique. Perrault was really interested in sound media and sources of sound.  He was one of the main figures in history who stressed the importance of vibration on consonance and dissonance.  I discovered through this very informative talk that a when one combines the  notes of consonance and disonance, the product is that of a harmonic tune.

I enjoyed the second session more than the first simply because it related more to the “scientific” aspects of sound and it was a more comfortable area for me.  The talk about Sound, Consciousness, and Culture: Exploring Music and Technology  through Semiotics and Ethnographic Study was very captivating.  I really liked when the speakers presented data showing the correlation between sound + perception and audio + visual representation.  As a science major, I feel that I am more sensitive over believing everything that I see or hear.  The fact that there was actual data that that proved the relationship between these figures was really cool.  The speakers, Lysloff and Chagras spoke about Husserl’s phenomenology and Varela’s neurophenomenology.  The topic of neurophemonology, which was quite enlightening, talked about how conscious experience is based on neural alertness and embodied agents.  Consciousness is an inactive experience that involves self-organization and embodiment.  I felt like the concept of time was quite influential on both speakers’ ideas because it has a very complex texture.  According to them, there are three levels of temporality:

1) “level of perceived entities, the temporal objects and events in the world. ”

2)”acts of consciousness, acts and sense, temporal features of the perceived entities.”

3) “flow of consciousness.”

Both sessions were quite informative, but what stood out to me was the idea of consciousness as an inactive experience.  This idea was very similar to what I had learned in a Cells, Tissues, and Organs class I took last quarter.  I had studied about the different aspects and functions of the ears.  Hearing is based on the mechanics of our brain processing the vibrations and motions in the environment around us.  Without such processes, we would not be able to hear sound.  For example, if a tree were to fall in the middle of a forest with no one present to hear the falling of the tree, would there be a sound?  The answer is no because sounds need to be perceived by a living being in order to be heard.

I looked up additional studies regarding the concept of neurophenomenology and found:


This article speaks about neurophenomenology as a derivative of the embodied approach in cognitive sciences.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.