Sound Research WIKINDX

WIKINDX Resources

van Leeuwen, T. (1999). Speech, music, sound. London: MacMillan Press. 
Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard (4/20/05, 10:37 AM)   
Resource type: Book
ID no. (ISBN etc.): 0-333-64288-0
BibTeX citation key: vanLeeuwen1999
Email resource to friend
View all bibliographic details
Categories: General, Semiology
Keywords: Music, Sound objects
Creators: van Leeuwen
Publisher: MacMillan Press (London)
Resources citing this (Bibliography: WIKINDX Master Bibliography)
Views: 6/905
From the back cover:

"Speech, Music, Sound presents an entirely original approach to the theory of sound. Drawing on a wide range of phonetic, linguistic, pragmatic, semiotic and musicological sources, it concentrates on the communicative use of sound. It discusses the communicative roles of aural perspective, rhythm, melody and timbre in music as well as in speech, everyday soundscapes and film and television sound tracks. It applies linguistic concepts such as turntaking to music, and musical concepts such as harmony to speech. It also contains a chapter on aural realism, again in relation to music, speech and contemporary sound design."
Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard  Last edited by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
p.14   "Sound and image are distinctly different media. There is, for instance, no equivalent of the 'frontal' and 'side on' angle in sound. Sound is a wrap-around medium."   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
p.18   "...sound is dynamic: it can move us towards or away from a certain position, it can change our relation to what we hear."   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
p.92   "..if we can use sound to actually do things, to hail or warn or soothe, we can also use it to represent these things, to represent hailing or warning or soothing."   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
p.93   "...sound is always dynamic. Sounds are not things, nor can they represent things. Sounds are actions and can only represent the actions of people, places and things: ... the rustling of the leaves of the trees, not the trees themselves.... Sound messages only have verbs, so to speak. The nouns are inferred not stated."   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
p.128   Arguing that timbre also has semiotic value and is not just a container for semiotic speech or music (as writing is when compared to speech by linguists): "Sound never just 'expresses' or 'represents', it always also, and at the same time, affects us." He refers to Barthes' The Grain of the Voice.   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
p.142   Speaking of the human voice and what its semiotic value might be: "For most twentieth-century linguists the answer to this question has been: none. For them, 'phonemes', speech sounds, have no intrinsic value, but only distinctive value. They only serve to tell words apart from each other."   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
p.167   "[Sound] [T]echnology has been drawn into the realm of semiotics."   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
pp.167–168   "Sound ... is designed. It is no longer 'slaved' to what we see, but can play an independent role, just as many of the sounds in our everyday environment are no longer 'indexical', mechanically caused by whatever they are the sound of, but designed:... [A]s I open a door, I may hear, not the clicking of the clock, but an electronic buzz ... [M]uzak replaces the waiting tone of the telephone."   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
p.171   "...sound designers ... can manipulate the genre of sound we will hear, and create 'documentary realist' sound, 'humoristic' sound, 'heightened dramatic' sound, 'surreal' sound..."

van Leeuwen further talks about the different types of semiotic coding required for each.   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
pp.15–16   Discusses sound depth (the only parameter of the perspective he's ostensibly talking about that he seems concerned with (as sound has no front or side aspect)) and terms used to describe layers of sound in different sonic professions:

    • Immediate
    • Support
    • Background
  • FILM

    • Foreground
    • Mid-ground
    • Background

    • Figure
    • Ground
    • Field (after Murray Schafer)

All are hierarchies of three layers.   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
pp.125–155   Applies semiotics to the timbre of the voice. There's a potentially useful section on the voicing of vowels and consonents and their potential significations when used in (English) words.   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
p.140   Sound consists of different features each contributing some signification that defines what the sound represents. These significations are derived from our experience and ability to associate the sound with an action that occurs when the sound is produced. i.e. We extend our practical experience to understand that others may behave similarly.   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
pp.177–182   Presents three coding orientations for sound derived from the greater or lesser articulation of various modalities (see below):

    Less articulation = more abstract. The subject becomes generalized. Music is the most abstract form of sound yet can also be sensory (with increased articulation of, for example, friction).
    An imitative approach -- what you would hear if you were really there. Often used in films, especially documentaries. Verisimilitude.
    Emotive impact is most important. Articulation is increased at the expense of naturalistic representation.

There may be configurations of these three.


  • dynamic range
  • pitch range
  • durational variation
  • perspectival depth
  • degrees of fluctuation (e.g. vibrato)
  • degrees of friction (e.g. smooth <--> rough)
  • absorption range (wet <--> dry)
  • degree of directionality
  Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
WIKINDX 6.9.0 | Total resources: 1303 | Username: -- | Bibliography: WIKINDX Master Bibliography | Style: American Psychological Association (APA)