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Ballas, J. A. (1994). Delivery of information through sound. In G. Kramer (Ed.), Auditory Display: Sonification, Audification, and Auditory Interfaces (pp. 79–94). Reading MA: Addison-Wesley. 
Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard (2/24/06, 12:33 PM)   Last edited by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard (4/28/09, 6:34 AM)
Resource type: Book Article
BibTeX citation key: Ballas1994
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Categories: General, Sound Design
Keywords: Alarms, Fear, Linguistics, Metaphor, Onomatopoeia, Simile
Creators: Ballas, Kramer
Publisher: Addison-Wesley (Reading MA)
Collection: Auditory Display: Sonification, Audification, and Auditory Interfaces
Resources citing this (Bibliography: WIKINDX Master Bibliography)
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"The potential to deliver information through sound is rapidly expanding with new technology, new techniques, and significant advances in our understanding of hearing. Although these changes raise important new issues about the design of sound delivery systems, there is already a wide range of knowledge scattered through different disciplines about communicating information through nonspeech sound such as sonification. An overview of how sound can deliver information is presented using a framework of linguistic analogies. Areas that will be discussed in some detail include contextual and expectancy effects, which operate when tonal sounds as well as realistic sounds are interpreted."
Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard  Last edited by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Makes use of linguistic terminology/analogy to provide a framework for discussing and understanding sound. There are five informational functions of sound with analogies made to:

  • Exclamation (draw attention to -- alarm)
  • Deixis (indicating, pointing out)
  • Simile
  • Metaphor
  • Onomatopoeia

Although Ballas mentions Gaver's nomic sounds and other 'realistic' sounds, this taxonomy does not include them since his intention is to provide classification systems for the design or synthesis of sound.
Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard  Last edited by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
p.80   Points out that a sound can be dissociated from its causal event unlike, for example, light/vision and that this dissociation has advantages and disadvantages. Because a sound can be representative of something other than its causal event (dissociated), sound designers need to understand the mapping of sound parameters to complex phenomena. Where no dissociation occurs, designers need to take into account sound context and listener expectations.   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Conformity & expectation

Discussing the exclamation function of sound (designed to get listener's attention), Ballas suggest that the perception of exclamation is a function mainly of SNL ratio. However, simply raising the level of a sound to gain greater urgency is not satisfactory and urgency can be more effectively communicated in other ways:

(Based on findings of Edworthy, Loxley (1991) and Dennis)

Edworthy, J., Loxley, S., & Dennis, I. (1991). Improving auditory warning design: Relationship between warning sound parameters and perceived urgency. Human Factors, 33(2), 205–231.   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
pp.82–84   Discussing deixis type sounds which point to something (usually hidden information). Therefore, context is important (what are we pointing to in relation to the listener?) and such deictic sounds must be learnt in order to be interpreted correctly. 4 - 6 such sounds can be efficiently learnt -- if more specific deictic sounds are required, the solution would be to keep the 4 - 6 limit and supplement with visual display of the hidden information.   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Demographics
p.85   When sound functions as a simile, some property of the sound is being likened to a property existing in another domain. Correct interpretation can be improved by using commonly accepted relationships (which depend on many variables such as culture, musical training and so forth). One set of relationships might be:

  • frequency ---> elevation
  • wave type ---> pattern
  • amplitude ---> size
  • duration ---> horizontal length
  Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Simile
p.85   The metaphor function of sound is an extension of the simile function and ideally should communicate so effectively that the sound enters common usage (i.e. become dead metaphors). Something that can be correctly interpreted more quickly than equivalent speech.   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Iconography Indexicality Metaphor
pp.86–88   The onomatopoeic function of sound is where one sound has been designed to imitate another sound. Listener expectancy is a major fact both in associating a sound with a probable cause and associating a [potential] cause with a probable sound.   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Onomatopoeia
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