I Does DAT

Hearing and seeing patterns
November 2, 2006, 4:08 pm
Filed under: Dissertation, Major Project, Sound Practice

It seems quite irrelavant to anything I’m working on really but I thought it was interesting: apparently it’s easier to hear patterns in protein strands by assigning musical notes to individual amino acids than it is to see them in a visual list. This seems pretty simple and obvious to me, although a good idea from these scientists that I wouldn’t have thought of.

Incidentally, this is one my the best blogs I’ve found for little nuggets of research. There are often some interesting articles popping up there and a lot of them are relevant, especially when they’re technology related, so I recommend you take a gander.

Getting it into focus
November 2, 2006, 3:38 pm
Filed under: Dissertation

This morning I had my first dissertation consultation with my tutor, Michael Punt, which was incredibly useful. All I really knew beforehand was that I needed to boil my general idea down to focus on one more specific aspect. He confirmed this to me and gave me some really handy pointers that I hadn’t, and probably wouldn’t have, thought of.

It transpired that my real interest lies in the study of intentional affecting of feeling and behaviour, using the very edge of human auditory perception in order for this affecting to go unnoticed by the subject. Examples came up such as muzac in shops and hotels, the careful selection of music in pubs such as wetherspoons to tailor their customer base (attracting the type of people they want and repelling those that they don’t). Also the design of singular sounds, such as car doors or keys on a keyboard, to provide a certain type of audio feedback and induce a particular idea of what the thing is. Research into this type of thing is likely to have been done by, for example, car companies, etc. and if I can find this research somewhere it will come in really handy. I may need to get in touch with some consultuncies of some kind who may have done this work on a company’s behalf, if I can track these types of organisations down.

One thing that I really got from the meeting was the idea of including a case study chapter. I had intended to do some experimentation, more with the project in mind, such as observation of people in places like the new mall in town and their behaviour in relation to the music or noise that can be heard in the space. I think this will add a really good dimension to the writing. This also got me thinking about the idea of observing and with this in mind I’m going to look into the archives of the Mass Observation to see if I can uncover any clues in there.

Abstract and Chapter Outline
October 27, 2006, 2:17 pm
Filed under: Dissertation

The advancement of sound technology since the introduction of computers as mainstream means that noises can now be designed to affect the human brain in a very precise way. This thesis discusses the influence of sound and exactly how much potential it has to impact on human behaviour and society.

By looking at existing research and practical implementations, such as I-Doser and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), as well as self-conducted tests, it aims to prove (or disprove) not only that technologically crafted sound has the potential to have a profound psychological and physiological effect on us but also that everyday sounds that we ignore or take for granted are a strong factor on our everyday behaviour, habits and decisions.

Starting with research and argument for the proof of this, followed by research and argument for the disproof, I-Doser and applications of its nature come under scrutiny. I-Doser is essentially a music player designed to play sound files which can be bought from the website. The files come in ‘doses’ and use binaural beats to emulate certain drugs, from caffeine to lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), by stimulating the same parts of the brain as would the drug. Also under investigation are suggested theories such as particular aspects of NLP, an area involved with the use of language and the effect it has on a person’s mind. For example, material presented in a certain way will affect the student’s interpretation of that material, or their ability to remember and understand it.

Once both sides of the argument are explored they are combined to form a more accurate picture. This picture leads to a conclusion of the facts, as well as the opinion and predictions of the author in relation to his hypothesis.

Chapter Outline

Argument for (thesis)
Argument against (anti-thesis)
Synthesis of thesis and anti-thesis
Conclusion in relation to hypothesis, including predictions for the future

i-Doser: The not so shady world of sound drugs
October 27, 2006, 1:12 pm
Filed under: Dissertation, Major Project, Sound Practice

During a conversation with a friend the other day, i-Doser was brought to my attention. This is a website from which you pay for a ‘dose’ of sound which is designed to make you feel a certain way. Once the sound has finished playing, it destroys itself and you can buy another dose.

There are a whole range of doses available which the creators claim can emulate, mostly recreational, drugs from anti-depressants and coffee to cocaine and out-of-body experiences. They do this using binaural beats to stimulate the same parts of the brain as the drug itself, supposedly giving you the sensation of the drug without any of the harmful chemical side effects.

I found the whole thing very interesting, especially considering the subject of my dissertation. I’ve tried a couple of doses myself without too much effect but I believe it works and I’ll persevere. Give it a go – you get some free doses to try when you download the program.

The Infamous Five Paragraphs
October 8, 2006, 8:00 pm
Filed under: Dissertation, Major Project

With my first post in mind, let’s try and pin down some specifics around these titles and get some structure:

The Field
I want to look into manipulation of behaviour and social psyche through the use of sound. In order to do this I will need to research into the potential of manipulation of sound itself and the pychological effects of crafted and background noise.

Key players/works
Alvin Lucier
John Cage

In conversation with Thomas Moore (Robert Ashley, Morton Feldman, Philip Glass, Alvin Lucier)
Backmasking on records: Real, or hoax?
– B. A. Robinson
Subliminal advertising may work after all – Alison Motluk

Potential reading:

  • Feeling the Sound: The Influence of Music on Behaviour – Kay Sherwood Roskam
  • Introducing NLP: Neuro-Linguistic Programming – Joseph O’Connor and John Seymour
  • The Hidden Power of Vibrations – Harvey Day
  • On the sensations of tone : as a physiological basis for the theory of music – Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz
  • Receptive mechanisms of sound in the ear – Yasuji Katsuki
  • Sound health : the music and sounds that make us whole – Steven Halpern with Louis Savary
  • Spatial hearing : the psychophysics of human sound localization – Jens Blauert
  • Auditory Imagery – edited by Daniel Reisberg

Your angle/contribution

I intend to focus on the field’s relationship with new technologies and new media, firstly establishing the extent to which these influences have an impact and secondly how it has and will affect the development of society, culture and what we currently regard as civilisation.


I shall use sound editing software, such as wave editors, to create audio material of a particular nature in an attempt to construct a certain environment, designed to affect a user in a controlled way. These sounds could be made interactive, dynamic and unpredictable by utilising more sophisticated software such as MAX/MSP and Ableton Live, thereby introducing a more involving element to the user and making a more immersive experience. Social technologies are another area to be explored with the power of sound in mind. For example, mobile phones, the Internet and many other common modern technologies all have an impact on society and individuals. As far as sound is concerned, this often comes in the form of association. One paradign of this is a development of the way we structure our daily lives. From an early age we are introduced to the concept of a life structured by time and prompts. At schools, a bell denotes a significant event, e.g. lunch time. We hear a sound and it tells us to eat, which in reality is a relatively unnatural way of knowing when to take on energy since our bodies have the capacity to tell us that. In the same way, the common noises heard from mobile phones often prompt us to an action such as reading a communication. The prevelence of particular sounds can produce an unnecessary reaction, in this case the typical ‘beep-beep’ associated with the receipt of a text message often results in people checking their phones for a message because somebody nearby has been sent one.


I believe I will discover that sound has more impact on the way we go about our lives than we give it credit for and that much of this influence happens without us realising it, and that it is often intentional.

Sound Installation at Hampton Court Maze
October 8, 2006, 3:19 pm
Filed under: Dissertation, Major Project, Sound Practice

Taken from http://www.hrp.org.uk/webcode/content.asp?ID=1078

Trace sound installation
Hampton Court Maze From May 2005, giggling children and scuttling feet will not be the only sounds reverberating through the hedges of the Maze – the final stage of the project is a new audio installation. Entitled Trace, this new permanent art installation has been created by internationally renowned sound artists Greyworld, commissioned by Historic Royal Palaces through the Artpoint Trust.

Drawing on the idea of the historic maze as a place of furtive conversation and flirtation, Greyworld have created a gentle soundwork that affects the visitors’ experience of their journey through the labyrinth. Visitors will be enticed along the green corridors, tempted by tantalising sounds – a fragment of music, a snatch of laughter, the seductive rustle of fine silks and the whispers of an illicit conversation – that will disappear around the winding paths.

At the centre of the Maze, touch-sensitive benches will also create subtle sounds as visitors sit to relax and contemplate their journey into – and their strategy to find their way out of – the Maze! Over a thousand self-generating sounds will be incorporated into the Maze ensuring the visitor will never experience the work in the same way twice.”

This installation aims to enhance the user’s experience of the maze and to help them appreciate its historical significance. By triggering sounds that one might have heard throughout the maze in its early days it is possible to transport the user back to that time, making it a truly immersive feature.

Dissertation Ideas
October 6, 2006, 3:28 pm
Filed under: Dissertation

The power of sound as a social tool.

I would like to discuss the effect that sound can have on a person and the way that that person experiences situation, in a social or scientific context (i.e. ranging from everyday background noise to sounds specifically designed to have a certain impact on the pysche/emotions/actions of a person). Further to this, I will look into the effect on the use and potential of sound, as an influence, of new technologies.

  • History of sound manipulation
  • Ways that sound is used to alter behaviour
  • Sound as a communication tool
  • How big of a factor is sound in the way we live our lives