Sounds out of Place
December 9, 2008 12:20 AM   Subscribe

I heard a term somewhere that referred to the modern phenomena of sounds being decoupled from what produces them, in the sense that it's no longer a one-to-one relationship between sound and thing. So whereas previously every time you heard a bark you knew it was a dog, now it could be a TV, a computer, or a robot dog. Likewise, a big professional sound system could sound like almost anything. I think the originator was an academic. I distinctly remembering seeing mention of this on wikipedia once. What was that term? Who coined it?
posted by phrontist to Science & Nature (5 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: There may be other people who have coined terms for a similar concept, but the term you're probably thinking of is schizophonia. It was coined by Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer, but the term has been developed quite a bit by the ethnomusicologist Steven Feld, who also coined the term schismogenesis to describe the phenomenon of re-combining these dissociated sounds and re-anchoring them to new things / concepts. Schismogenesis wasn't quite coined by Feld, though, as he actually developed it from early 20th-c. anthropologist Gregory Bateson to describe a form of culturally-productive rivalry / competition.
posted by LMGM at 2:25 AM on December 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

I remember a teacher discussing the gap between perception and reality re: sounds displaced from their obvious sources, in relation to Descartes' Cogito Ergo Sum. In his explanation, this phenomenon is older than the machine age: seals bark, chairs scraping on wooden floors bark, birds imitate sounds, etc. The point he was making was that you can't always trust any one of your senses to give you reliable information about the world. I offer this only because there may be another, older word for this (ie, in addition to schizophonia), and the annals of philosophy may be a place to look for it.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 4:44 AM on December 9, 2008

Best answer: The acousmatics were ancient Greek students of Pythagoras; he lectured them hidden from view through a screen. The aforementioned Pierre Schaeffer picked up the term in the 1960's to describe electro-acoustic music and it's modes of reduced listening - where the attention is fully focused on the sound, losing direct associations with real-world objects. Schaeffer's treatise on this has only ever been partially translated from French though. Wikipedia.
posted by yoHighness at 6:56 AM on December 9, 2008

Sorry, I realized just now it's not exactly what you are looking for.
posted by yoHighness at 6:59 AM on December 9, 2008

LMGM has it.
posted by umbĂș at 8:36 AM on December 9, 2008

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