Sound Research WIKINDX

WIKINDX Resources

Gaver, W. W. (1993). What in the world do we hear? An ecological approach to auditory perception. Ecological Psychology, 5(1), 1–29. 
Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard (3/28/06, 4:14 PM)   Last edited by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard (10/14/08, 12:12 AM)
Resource type: Journal Article
BibTeX citation key: Gaver1993
Email resource to friend
View all bibliographic details
Categories: Semiology, Sound Design, Typologies/Taxonomies
Keywords: Acoustic ecology, Acoustics, Definition of sound, Earcons & Auditory Icons, Listening modes, Perception, Psychoacoustics, Sound objects
Creators: Gaver
Collection: Ecological Psychology
Resources citing this (Bibliography: WIKINDX Master Bibliography)
Views: 4/992
"Everyday listening is the experience of hearing events in the world rather than sounds per se. In this article, I take an ecological approach to everyday listening to overcome constraints on its study implied by more traditional approaches. In particular, I am concerned with developing a new framework for describing sound in terms of audible source attributes. An examination of the continuum of structured energy from event to audition suggests that sound conveys information about events at locations in an environment. Qualitative descriptions of the physics of sound-producing events, complemented by protocol studies, suggest a tripartate division of sound-producing events into those involving vibrating solids, gasses, or liquids. Within each of these categories, basic-level events are defined by the simple interactions that can cause these materials to sound, whereas more complex events can be described in terms of temporal patterning, compound, or hybrid sources. The results of these investigations are used to create a map of sound-producing events and their attributes useful in guiding further exploration."
Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard  Last edited by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard

An attempt to define an auditory ecology as a method of listening and understanding sound (and its source). This is extracting information about the sound from not only the sound source's physical characteristics (density, size, material etc.) but also from the effect of the environment on the perception of that sound. This is in contrast to the traditional acoustical/psychoacoustical approach of dealing solely with frequency and amplitude of the sound itself.

Gaver's use of everyday listening is similar in many respects to Shaeffer and Chion's (1994, pp.25–34) causal listening but does not refer to it -- although the reference given here is later than this article, Chion's work and use of the term is based on earlier published work.

The first in a pair of articles (Gaver 1993).

Chion, M. (1994). Audio-vision: Sound on screen. C. Gorbman, Trans. New York: Columbia University Press.
Gaver, W. W. (1993). How do we hear in the world? Explorations in ecological acoustics. Ecological Psychology, 5(4), 285–313.
Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard  Last edited by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
p.17   Points out that "concatenating the creak of a heavy door closing slowly with the slap of a light door slammed shut would be likely to sound quite unnatural." This is an example of higher level attributes of sound events not usually studied by acousticians.   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
pp.21–25   Notes that sound FX CDs usually categorize by context although there is usually some further description of sound objects' hierarchy and physical properties. "A hierarchical framework that describes sounds' attributes and dimensions thus seems more likely to be generative, to delineate a space of possible sounds, rather than context-based classifications."


A simple hierarchy might be:


while a more complex hierarchy might be:


Notes that his preliminary categorisation into solid, liquid and gaseous sound does not cover all eventualities. What about fire?   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Technology

Distinguishes between musical listening (perception of a sound based on its pitch, loudness, temporal change, timbre and masking) and everyday listening (perception of the sound event itself and its environment). This is an experiential distinction or a perceptual one since any sound can be listened to in either listening mode. cf. Chion (1994, pp.25–34) etc.

Chion, M. (1994). Audio-vision: Sound on screen. C. Gorbman, Trans. New York: Columbia University Press.   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
pp.3–4   A reminder that because the scientific study of sound springs from research into musical acoustics (pitch, loudness etc.), little is known of other modes of auditory perception (e.g. how do we know if someone is walking up or down stairs?). The traditional approach argues that the knowledge about a sound event (ie. everyday listening) relies on experience and memory.   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
p.7   If radiant/direct sound is sensed it arrives at the ear before reflected/reverberant sound. For this reason is is possible to separate information about the sound from information about the environment. Additionally, the medium itself affects sound (e.g. high frequency loss in air) and changes in loudness and/or frequency usually indicate shifting sound (Doppler effect etc.).   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
p.18   If an object's size is changed, the frequency of sound it emits changes too - frequency being the most significant factor of change among others. Therefore, a change in frequency is usually perceived as a change in size of the sound object.   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
p.19   Recounting a third-party experiment, Gaver notes that most participants could distinguish between and estimate the size of objects dropped into water.   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
WIKINDX 6.8.2 | Total resources: 1297 | Username: -- | Bibliography: WIKINDX Master Bibliography | Style: American Psychological Association (APA)