Sound Spatial 

Day 209 Week 29 Q3 Saturday, July 29, 2023

After the dynamic and spectral aspects of sound the spatial comes third and it covers a large class of processing and potentially compositional sensitivities. The first thing we need here is a definition and as a reminder; dynamics are from soft to loud, spectral are low to high and spatial have to do with the sonic distribution of energy in space, which by the way is three dimensional not two dimensional.  Now most sound systems do have a volume control to adjust loudness and a tone control to control bass and treble, and they usually also have a balance control left to right contributions.  Consider that these three aspects of sound are so important that most sound systems have volume, tone and balance controls which are the very crudest ways to influence sound. But composers have much finer controls at their disposal, they can determine where sounds emanate from and how loud they are and they can specify what musicians should be aiming for in terms of their tone as well. 

Even beginning guitarists know that electric guitars do not sound as full as acoustic guitars until they are amplified and in most eery single case have reverb added. The single most used effect both for electric instruments and for sound reinforcement systems is reverberation, the adding of what sounds like reflections to the initial sound. And here is why the spatial aspect of sound is of powerful and critical importance. When we hear a combination of sounds arrive at our ears at different times and this provides a great deal of information about the space we are in. Is it large or small and by the ay is it wide or narrow, or tall? Does it have very hard reflective surfaces or sound absorbing carpets, drapes and other people? This not only tells the listener a great deal about the space they occupy but also make it sound better or worse in terms of intelligibility and comfort. Music people often use the terms bad acoustics or good acoustics referring to how it makes the instruments and the music sound. And what is good for understanding speech may not be good for making strings sound great and vie-a-versa. 

Reverb and delay are two tools producers and engineers use to modify and hopefully improve the music they are processing. And the recording process itself can capture more or less of this effect by locating microphones further or closer to the source of the sound they are recording or sound reinforcing.

Composers, musicians, producers and engineers are all collaborating on the spatial distribution of sonic energy whether they know it or not. It is therefore worthwhile for each these groups to know something about the behavior, capture, and modification of sound if they want the best outcome for audiences.

Composers have at their disposal a great deal of tools for sound cresting for that is the business they are in and as the first movers with the first concept of what the music should sound like all of the others opinions come in later. Try to make sure what your initials intentions are make sense sonically. Take into account the dynamic, spectral and spatial aspects of sound so it sounds good.