LISTENING PATTERNS. From Music to Perception and Cognition
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The research aims to propose a narrative of the experience of listening and to provide some first examples of its possible application. This is done in three parts. Part One, “Words”, aims to methodologically frame the narrative by discussing the limits and requirements of a theory of listening. After discussing the difficulties of building an objective characterization of the listening experience, the research proposes that any theorization on listening can only express a point of view that is implied by descriptions of listening both in linguistic terms and in the data they involve. The analysis of theories about listening is therefore conducted through a grammatical path that unfolds by following the syntactic roles of the words involved in theoretical claims about listening. Starting from the problem of synonymy, the analysis moves around the subject, the object, adjectives and adverbs to finally discuss the status of the references of the discourses on listening. The Part One ends by claiming the need to reintroduce the subject in theories about listening and proposes to attribute the epistemological status of the narrative to any discourse about the listening experience. This implies that any proposed narrative must substitute its truth-value with the instrumental value that is expressed by the idea of “viability”. The Part Two, “Patterns”, is devoted to introducing a narrative of listening. This is first informally introduced in terms of the experience of a distinction within the sonic flow. After an intermission dedicated to connecting the idea of distinction to Gaston Bachelard’s metaphysics of time, the narrative is finally presented as a dialectics among three ways of organizing perceptive distinctions. Three perceptive modes of distinctions are presented as a basic mechanism that is responsible for articulating the sonic continuum in a complex structure of expectations and reactions, in terms of patterns, that is constantly renewed under the direction of statistical learning. The final chapter of the Part Two aims to briefly apply the narrative of pattern structures to dealing with the experience of noise. Part Three aims to show the “viability” of the proposed narrative of listening. First, a method for analysing music by listening is discussed. Then, a second chapter puts the idea of pattern structures in contact with music composition, as a framework that can be applied to data sonification, installations, music production and to the didactics of composition. Finally, the last chapter is devoted to the discussion of the idea of “soundscape” and “identity formation”, in order to show the potential of applying the proposed narrative to the context of cultural and social studies.