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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00178

Cross-Modal Perception of Noise-in-Music: Audiences Generate Spiky Shapes in Response to Auditory Roughness in a Novel Electroacoustic Concert Setting

 Kongmeng Liew1, 2*, PerMagnus Lindborg1, Ruth Rodrigues3 and  Suzy J. Styles4
  • 1School of Art, Design, and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • 2Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Japan
  • 3Raffles Arts Institute, Raffles Institution, Singapore
  • 4Division of Psychology, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Noise has become integral to contemporary music aesthetics. In this paper, we define noise as sound that is high in auditory roughness, and examine the effect of noise on cross-modal mapping between sound and visual shape in participants. In order to preserve the ecological validity of contemporary music aesthetics, we developed Rama, a novel interface, for presenting experimentally controlled blocks of noise that form part of the sound design of a multimedia performance with live musicians, and also allows data to be actively collected from audience interaction. Audience members listened to noisy sounds, and collectively voted to create the shape of a visual graphic, presented as part of the audio-visual performance. The results of the concert setting were replicated in a controlled laboratory environment to corroborate the findings. Results show a consistent effect of auditory roughness on shape design, with rougher sounds corresponding to spikier shape. We discuss the implications, as well as evaluate the audience interface.

Keywords: Noise, human-computer interaction, Cross-modal perception, auditory roughness, Computer music, Multimedia

Received: 23 Nov 2017; Accepted: 01 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Francesco Ferrise, Politecnico di Milano, Italy

Reviewed by:

Roberta Etzi, Università degli studi di Milano Bicocca, Italy
Tanor Bonin, Schulich School of Music, McGill University, Canada  

Copyright: © 2018 Liew, Lindborg, Rodrigues and Styles. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mr. Kongmeng Liew, Nanyang Technological University, School of Art, Design, and Media, Singapore, Singapore,