Eric Clarke “An Ecological Perspective on Music, Sound and Space”

Music, Sound and the Reconfiguration of Public and Private Space Conference continued:

Eric Clarke’s presentation “An Ecological Perspective on Music, Sound and Space” addressed the perception of space in recorded music. Relevant for mobile sound was his reminder how movement in space, especially moving our heads, is crucial for the perception of space and for navigation in regards to sound.  He sketched out a list of spaces that are involved in listening to recorded music: the imagined/conceptual/narrative space of the piece of music itself, the real space of the recording (e.g. concert hall), the virtual space of recording, the real space where the recording is played back, and the virtual space of perception in the listener.
I would like to add, that for mobile listening the real space of playing back the recording is in fact the listener’s head, as earphones are used.
Clarke’s analysis of a Goldfrapp song followed traditional musical analysis, attributing different spatial representations in the recording with specific associations, e.g. the voice sounding far away with feelings of remoteness. These were his own associations, and did not draw upon a study with other listeners. The distinction into real and virtual musical spaces was one thread running through the conference discussions, and revealed different notions of these terms and the relationship between them.


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