Sound perception and design in multimodal environments
Abstract: This dissertation is about sound in context. Since sensory processing is inherently multimodal, research in sound is necessarily multidisciplinary. The present work has been guided by principles of systematicity, ecological validity, complementarity of methods, and integration of science and art. The main tools to investigate the mediating relationship of people and environment through sound have been empiricism and psychophysics. Four of the seven included papers focus on perception. In paper A, urban soundscapes were reproduced in a 3D installation. Analysis of results from an experiment revealed correlations between acoustic features and physiological indicators of stress and relaxation. Paper B evaluated soundscapes of different type. Perceived quality was predicted not only by psychoacoustic descriptors but also personality traits. Sound reproduction quality was manipulated in paper D, causing two effects on source localisation which were explained by spatial and semantic crossmodal correspondences. Crossmodal correspondence was central in paper C, a study of colour association with music. A response interface employing CIE Lab colour space, a novelty in music emotion research, was developed. A mixed method approach supported an emotion mediation hypothesis, evidenced in regression models and participant interviews. Three papers focus on design. Field surveys and acoustic measurements were carried out in restaurants. Paper E charted relations between acoustic, physical, and perceptual features, focussing on designable elements and materials. This investigation was pursued in Paper F where a taxonomy of sound sources was developed. Analysis of questionnaire data revealed perceptual and crossmodal effects. Lastly, paper G discussed how crossmodal correspondences facilitated creation of meaning in music by infusing ecologically founded sonification parameters with visual and spatial metaphors. The seven papers constitute an investigation into how sound affects us, and what sound means to us.
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