A taxonomy of sounds both object and user centred

Invited paper

Pascal Gaillard

Octogone EA 4156

Tuesday 2 june, 2015, 17:40 - 18:00

0.6 Madrid (49)

Humans have long structured the world into taxonomies. However, developing a taxonomy of sounds remains a complex issue. A scientific classification of sounds usually splits sounds into three types, each analyzed within a unique respective domain as a consequence of the goals of those domains: (1) speech, as studied by phoneticians; (2) music, as studied by musicians; and (3) everything else (alarms, natural sounds, and all so-called “noise”) as studied by psychoacousticians. This division is a consequence of the goals of the domains in which they are studied. However, each scientific domain is not constituted only be the sounds investigated, but by other considerations such as the use of a given sound within the context of a communication act, for example, within linguistics; or in harmonics, for musicology. The criteria used to categorize sounds are so diverse and contextual that it is likely impossible to positive a singular, exhaustive formal taxonomy. We address this issue by positing complementary object and subject oriented approaches that simultaneously account for signal properties and human perception, respectively. That is, this taxonomy considers both source sound characteristics and sound uses in positing four main branches: (1) speech and music (categorized together as both belong to systems); (2) environmental sounds; (3) warning sounds; and (4) animal sounds. We describe the differences between each class in terms of intentionality, active control, system state indicator or human hearing adaptation.

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