Classifying Sounds

25/10/2010

At the end of last week one of our tutors set us the task of finding a reliable, accurate method or system for classifying sounds. I’m not sure whether he expects many of us to actually attempt this task and I’m pretty sure he is expecting those of us who do to fail.

Nevertheless I am determined to find some form of classifying sounds that works for me, I guess purely to develop my own listening, interpretation and description skills. So far I have this:

  • Is the sound pitched or un-pitched?
  • Is the sound of low, mid, or high frequency?
  • Is the sound rich in harmonics (buzzing, fizzing), or lacking harmonics (pure tone)?
  • Is the sound of short duration (percussive), medium, or long duration?
  • Is the sound largely consistent in level, or varying in level, throughout its duration?

I have built a collection of various sounds/samples and have also drawn up a table with boxes relating to the emboldened descriptions above. My plan is for myself and others to listen to the sounds and place them in the relevant boxes.

Following this method should allow me to begin grouping sounds that are perceived to have similar sonic properties together. Where I go from there, I am currently unsure.

I am expecting the above method to also highlight weaknesses in the descriptions I have chosen and for a more reliable method and more accurate descriptions to become apparent as I go through the process.

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