THE POWER OF SOUND –…by its effects you shall know it; talk by Julian Treasure

In the same way that “no action is without an equal and opposite reaction”, there are no sounds that produce no effects.  
And precisely because they generate things inside of us  –they change us–, sounds are powerful: Just as they make us happy or well, they make us uncomfortable or ill.
That said, what do we know about them?; what are their effects? 
Do we know how to use them, both in our professional lives (for example: as a brand for our product), as well as in our private lives?
Julian Treasure is a professional who creates sounds for marketing and for communications media. And today's talk (the video) –the first of three–, simply and brilliantly introduces us to the world of sounds. Because “hearing better”, is living better...

Abstract

In the same way that “no action is without an equal and opposite reaction”, there are no sounds that produce no effects.
And precisely because they generate things inside of us –they change us–, sounds are powerful: Just as they make us happy or well, they make us uncomfortable or ill.
That said, what do we know about them?; what are their effects?
Do we know how to use them, both in our professional lives (for example: as a brand for our product), as well as in our private lives?
Julian Treasure is a professional who creates sounds for marketing and for communications media. And today’s talk (the video) –the first of three–, simply and brilliantly introduces us to the world of sounds. Because “hearing better”, is living better…

Paper

When one of us wants to communicate with others, we figure out how we can make use of the resources at our disposal, to do so. This means that for purposes of communication, a series of processes aimed ultimately at the expression of our message are deployed –causing it to reach the person we want to receive it–.

We have many ways to achieve this.

For example: We can express ourselves using sounds, voice, gestures, actions, and by illustration (through the use of images, alphabets, ideograms or codes); as well as through dramatizations… And regardless of whether this is achieved using natural or artifical means (or methods, or technologies), new or old ones –like electronic media and mobile devices–.

What matters here, is not so much which means we choose, as what message we are expressing, and the efficiency, beauty, timeliness and accessibility with which we transmit it.

Without the ability to communicate –something that is innate to humans–, healthy coexistence would be impossible. And it would also be impossible to live in communities, to buy and sell, to resolve conflicts, to love, to legislate, to practice medicine, to make art…

For this reason –because communicating is what is important to our brains–, when somebody loses their ability to speak and learns sign language, the brain uses the same areas it would have used to communicate using words (Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas, which are located close to our left ear).

But this does not mean that the means we use to communicate, are innocuous or random. A declaration of love does not “feel” the same communicated one way, as it would another; nor are the effects the same. And so it is important to study each method of communication.

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The spoken word takes shape with our voice. That is why in a previous article of ours, we analyzed how we produce our voice. But there are many other sounds that transmit information to us that we need to survive, and/or that allow us to communicate. And even without words, sounds change us, make an impression on us, not only at a cognitive level, but also at an emotional and even physiological level.

To learn about this, we have here today an expert on sound design and management: Julian Treasure…:

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[This talk was translated into several languages. To see the subtitles, click on “Subtitles available” (or “Languages”), located below the video, and select the one you prefer.]

TALKING POINTS (SUMMARY):

Because we are immersed in sounds, our relationship with them is unintentional and unconscious. And given that we are immersed in them and we cannot “close our ears” the way we close our eyes, the relationship may often be unpleasant or unwanted.

Sounds, furthermore, affect us, generating four different effects in us: physiological, psychological, cognitive and behavioural.

When we design sounds for others, it is important to bear in mind that they should be understandable, suitable, and valuable to the listener (they should provide some value to the person receiving them, and not only to the producer, since otherwise our receiver will not hear it the way we would like them to). And we need to try it out over and over again (make several test runs) before deciding to use a definitive version, given that their very complexity makes them difficult to grasp in their entirety, when we are still in the process of designing them.

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A brand’s sound is comprised of the following elements:

  1. Product sound (that is specifically associated with the product)
  2. Brand voice (vocalizations specifically associated with the product)
  3. Brand music (music specifically associated with the product)
  4. Sonic logo (sound or melody, distinguishing our product)
  5. Advertising sound (composition of our advertising)
  6. Branded audio (audio bearing our brand’s particular stamp, for example in our shops or products)
  7. Telephone sound (audio identifying our telephone calls)
  8. Soundscape (audio lanscape of the brand as a whole)

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To be able to design all of these elements, we must begin by focussing on a series of characteristics:

1) Drivers:

  • Time, pitch, texture, density and dynamics

2) Filters:

  • Function, environment, people, and brand/values

3) Desirable outcomes

  • physiological, psychological, cognitive and behavioural.

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About Blanca de Lizaur, PhD, MA, BA