Sound: An Acoulogical Treatise
Michel Chion is a composer, filmmaker, teacher, researcher, and the author of several books, including Film, A Sound Art; The Voice in Cinema; and Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen.
James A. Steintrager is Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and European Languages and Studies at the University of California, Irvine; he is the author, most recently, of The Autonomy of Pleasure: Libertines, License, and Sexual Revolution.
Between Doing and Listening: Naming
This chapter examines how traditional musical notation privileges certain aspects of sounds and sonic experience, placing greatest emphasis on pitch, followed by duration and intensity, and lastly timbre, a catchall category for anything not covered in the other categories and what are generally deemed unnotable sonic features. While various notation systems have been put forward to supplement the traditional Western notation, the thesis here is that linguistic description is actually the most effective pedagogical approach when it comes to analyzing sounds in all their complexity. This is in part because language does not pretend to capture sound totally in the way in which notation appears to do. The inadequacy of language is transparent: linguistic description does not suggest that we have succeeded in analyzing a sound but rather marks the work yet to be done.