Tag Archives: Laura Haapio-Kirk

David Sound+: Social

In this new guest blogging series “Sound +”, Laura Haapio-Kirk will discuss why sound is important and what it means to different professionals in various “sound-focused” industries. This week, her focus is on “Sound + Social”.

This post takes a look at the social nature of sound – how it connects and communicates. I hope to open up the subject rather than attempt to provide a conclusion, by inviting the opinions of people involved in sound in various ways. First up is the final instalment of the Sound Series videos featuring our lovely sound experts including Moby, Imogen Heap and Tim Exile amongst others. Take a look at the previous videos on the effects of sound and technology.

Social Sound from SoundCloud on Vimeo.

Have you ever heard a smile? Our ears are finely tuned to pick up social and emotional cues from others, according to research conducted by Portsmouth University. They found that a significant number of participants were able to identify not only a smile, but the degree of the smile just by hearing someone talk without seeing them. Are emoticons enough to convey such social signals in online text or would the web be more social if we could hear each other better?

Not only do we read social signals in sound, but our social networks can be influenced by preferences for certain types of sound. A shared fondness for Latvian tango can mean instant friendship for some. The networks that revolve around sound, especially amongst musicians, are often close and supportive – demonstrated well by the SoundCloud community. A project that explores these networks is Record and Ride, a five-month cycling tour of Europe tracing connections between artists and making recordings along the way. Niko found time to record an update from a hostel in Croatia, talking us through some of the highlights and his thoughts on social sound. More on the project here and check out some of the wonderful recordings on his profile.

I also caught up with Ariel Elkin from The Music Hackspace, London – a place for artists, innovators, and entrepreneurs passionate about music and technology. Check out some of their sounds here. Their weekly meetups are focused on finding novel ways to work with sound. Is sound inherently social? Drawing on his experiences, Ariel discusses this and more in the following clip.

Comparing the experience of sound with the other senses, it appears that one of sound’s unique properties is how it envelops us in a soundscape that stretches beyond our visual perspective, making us aware of people and things we don’t necessarily see. I can be sitting on a train staring out of the window but be fully aware of the social setting just by listening. However I can also choose to limit social interaction and immerse myself in a personal bubble via my iPod. So it seems that sound is not only key to our sociality, but we use it to actively control and sometimes limit our social world. Sound is intrinsically linked to social life and perhaps as our online interactions become ever more sophisticated, sound will have a bigger part to play.

David Sound +: Technology

In this new guest blogging series “Sound +”, Laura Haapio-Kirk will discuss why sound is important and what it means to different professionals in various “sound-focused” industries. This week, her focus is on “Sound + Technology”.

Advances in technology have completely changed the way that we create and consume sound. You only have to look at the wealth of talent on SoundCloud to see that sound is now truly a medium of expression for all. Everyone carries a microphone in their pocket in the form of their mobile and editing software is more accessible than ever.

Sound creators have an almost overwhelming array of new technology to work with. Björk’s Biophilia tour was packed with covetable technology, including the Reactable (pictured) – a tangible music maker controlled by moving objects on its surface. But it is not only experienced musicians that benefit from technological innovation. Currently in pre-production, the gTar with its light-up fretboard and iPhone dock can be picked up and played by anyone regardless of experience. In this second installment of the Sound Series videos we ask sound experts including Moby, Imogen Heap and Julian Treasure about their relationships with technology.

Sound Series: Technology from SoundCloud on Vimeo.

A fascinating form of sound technology that has been about for over 100 years but has recently experienced a resurgence is binaural recording. Sounds are recorded using microphones arranged so as to produce 3D renderings of a soundscape. Listening to a binaural recording immerses you in an environment built of sound. Jon McLeod is a London-based playwright and sound designer whose most recent play, titled ‘Organs of Little Apparent Importance’, puts the audience inside the head of the main character. Listen to Jon talk about binaural recording and how it can add a new dimension to theatre. The clip is accompanied by binaural sounds recorded by Jon and a trailer for the play. If you have ever been to an English seaside town you may recognise some of the distinctive soundscapes! Headphones recommended for the true binaural experience.

I recently went to Music Hack Paris, organised by the Google Cultural Institute and Joshfire. It was an intense weekend of hacking, jamming and impressive innovation! One of the participants, Bruno Verbrugghe, was there with a new invention called the Dualo – an accordion-like instrument designed with a completely new key layout to make learning and playing music easier. Here is Bruno discussing the instrument and how technology can free us from traditional constraints.

I also spoke with Nicholas Charriere about his project – a fun app for musical collaboration with friends called Friendly Loops. Hear more about the project and how technology and sound bring people together.

This is an exciting time to be working with sound simply because of the sheer amount of innovation in technology. There’s no excuse not to share your own sounds on SoundCloud!

Thanks to all interviewed! Also to Steren Giannini at Joshfire and other participants of Music Hack Paris whose sounds are featured.

David Sound+: Effects

In this new guest blogging series “Sound +”, Laura Haapio-Kirk will discuss why sound is important and what it means to different professionals in various “sound-focused” industries. Today Laura explores the effects of sound on key aspects of human experience. Whether you are totally immersed in the heavy beats of a club or are experiencing traffic noise at a subconscious level, sound is affecting you every moment of every day.

How sound affects us is something that fascinates many people, from cognitive music researchers to musicians themselves who develop techniques to harness its emotional power. They all agree that the affective nature of sound is not to be taken for granted!

You may remember our ‘Why Sound?’ video from last year (selected as an official Webby Award Honoree!), when we caught up with sound experts Imogen Heap, Moby, Julian Treasure and others on the importance of sound. Well, here is another video treat on how sound affects our experiences of the environment, of ourselves and of each other as social beings. Enjoy!

Five women who know all about the unique power of the human voice are the Boxettes – a female a cappella group featuring world champion beatboxer Bellatrix (listen to the awesome ‘Free’ for a taste of their stuff). In the following track, Kate and Yvette talk about how the human voice is a connective tool and how certain sounds can soothe whilst others gross them out!

Finally, for a scientific take on the matter, here is professor Tuomas Eerola of the Music Cognition Team at Jyväskylä University, Finland. In this clip he discusses his research into how timbre affects the emotional quality of sound. His results indicate that if you want to make your audience feel tense use instruments like a reedy saxophone, and if you want to relax them do it with a harp!

We’re interested to hear what sounds have a particular effect on you!

Thank you to all the sound experts featured for their fantastic input, to filmmaker Erika Brouwer, and to Sebastian Nováky for the wonderful sounds accompanying the Boxettes clip!

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