Sonic Object Cognition

  • Rolf Inge Godøy
Part of the Springer Handbooks book series (SHB)


We evidently have features at different timescales in music, ranging from the sub-millisecond timescale of single vibrations to the timescale of a couple of hundred milliseconds, manifesting perceptually salient features such as pitch, loudness, timbre , and various transients. At the larger timescales of several hundred milliseconds, we have features such as the overall dynamic and timbral envelopes of sonic events, and at slightly larger timescales, also of various rhythmic, textural, melodic, and harmonic patterns. And at still larger timescales, we have phrases, sections, and whole works of music, often lasting several minutes, and in some cases, even hours.

Features at these different timescales all contribute to our experience of music, however the focus in the present chapter is on the salient features of what has been called sonic objects, meaning on holistically perceived chunks of musical sound in the very approximately 0.5 − 5 s duration range. A number of known constraints in the production and perception of musical sound as well as in human behavior and perception in general, seem to converge in designating this timescale as crucial for our experience of music.

The aim of this chapter is then to try to understand how sequentially unfolding and ephemeral sound and sound-related body motion can somehow be transformed in our minds to sonic objects.


frequency modulation


musical instrument digital interface


music information retrieval


music extensible markup language


new interfaces for musical expression


  1. 35.1
    E. Husserl: On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time, 1893–1917 (Kluwer, Doredrecht 1991), English translation by John Barnett BroughCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 35.2
    R.I. Godøy: Thinking now-points in music-related movement. In: Concepts, Experiments and Fieldwork. Studies in Systematic Musicology and Ethnomusicology, ed. by R. Bader, C. Neuhaus, U. Morgenstern (Peter Lang, Frankfurt 2010) pp. 245–260Google Scholar
  3. 35.3
    R.I. Godøy: Sound-action awareness in music. In: Music and Consciousness, ed. by D. Clarke, E. Clarke (Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford 2011) pp. 231–243Google Scholar
  4. 35.4
    T.D. Griffiths, J.D. Warren: What is an auditory object?, Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 5(11), 887–892 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 35.5
    P. Schaeffer: Traité des Objets Musicaux (Éditions du Seuil, Paris 1966)Google Scholar
  6. 35.6
    P. Schaeffer: Solfège de l’objet Sonore (INA/GRM, Paris 1998), with sound examples by Reibel, G. and Ferreyra, B. 1967Google Scholar
  7. 35.7
    M. Chion: Guide des Objets Sonores (INA/GRM Buchet/Chastel, Paris 1983)Google Scholar
  8. 35.8
    J.-C. Risset: Timbre analysis by synthesis: Representations, imitations and variants for musical composition. In: Representations of Musical Signals, ed. by G. De Poli, A. Piccialli, C. Roads (MIT Press, Cambridge 1991) pp. 7–43Google Scholar
  9. 35.9
    R.I. Godøy: Formalization and Epistemology (Scandinavian Univ. Press, Oslo 1997)Google Scholar
  10. 35.10
    J. Petitot: Morphogenèse du Sens I (Presses Universitaires de France, Paris 1985)Google Scholar
  11. 35.11
    J. Petitot: Forme in Encyclopædia Universalis (Encyclopædia Universalis, Paris 1990)Google Scholar
  12. 35.12
    A.R. Jensenius, R.I. Godøy: Sonifying the shape of human body motion using motiongrams, Empir. Musicol. Rev. 8(2), 73–83 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 35.13
    A. Hunt, M. Wanderley, M. Paradis: The importance of parameter mapping in electronic instrument design, J. New Music Res. 32(4), 429–440 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 35.14
    A. Bregman: Auditory Scene Analysis (MIT Press, Cambridge 1990)Google Scholar
  15. 35.15
    J.K. Bizley, Y.E. Cohen: The what, where and how of auditory-object perception, Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 14, 693–707 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 35.16
    I. Winkler, T.L. van Zuijen, E. Sussman, J. Horváth, R. Näätänen: Object representation in the human auditory system, Eur. J. Neurosci. 24(2), 625–634 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 35.17
    R.I. Godøy: Gestural-sonorous objects: Embodied extensions of Schaeffer’s conceptual apparatus, Organ. Sound 11(2), 149–157 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 35.18
    R.I. Godøy, M. Leman: Musical Gestures: Sound, Movement and Meaning (Routledge, New York 2010)Google Scholar
  19. 35.19
    V. Gallese, T. Metzinger: Motor ontology: The representational reality of goals, actions and selves, Philos. Psychol. 16(3), 365–388 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 35.20
    M. Wilson, G. Knoblich: The case for motor involvement in perceiving conspecifics, Psychol. Bull. 131(3), 460–473 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 35.21
    V. Gallese, G. Lakoff: The brain’s concepts: The role of the sensory-motor system in conceptual knowledge, Cogn. Neuropsychol. 22(3/4), 455–479 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 35.22
    A. Berthoz: Le Sense du Mouvement (Odile Jacob, Paris 1997)Google Scholar
  23. 35.23
    A.M. Liberman, I.G. Mattingly: The motor theory of speech perception revised, Cognition 21, 1–36 (1985)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 35.24
    B. Galantucci, C.A. Fowler, M.T. Turvey: The motor theory of speech perception reviewed, Psychon. Bull. Rev. 13(3), 361–377 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 35.25
    J. Haueisen, T.R. Knösche: Involuntary motor activity in pianists evoked by music perception, J. Cogn. Neurosci. 13(6), 786–792 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 35.26
    E. Kohler, C. Keysers, M.A. Umiltà, L. Fogassi, V. Gallese, G. Rizzolatti: Hearing sounds, understanding actions: Action representation in mirror neurons, Science 297, 846–848 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 35.27
    M. Bangert, E.O. Altenmüller: Mapping perception to action in piano practice: A longitudinal DC-EEG study, BMC Neuroscience 4, 26 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 35.28
    H. McGurk, J. MacDonald: Hearing lips and seeing voices, Nature 264, 746–748 (1976)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 35.29
    R.I. Godøy: Imagined action, excitation and resonance. In: Musical Imagery, ed. by R.I. Godøy, H. Jorgensen (Swets and Zeitlinger, Lisse 2001) pp. 237–250Google Scholar
  30. 35.30
    R.I. Godøy: Motor-mimetic music cognition, Leonardo 36(4), 317–319 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 35.31
    R.I. Godøy: Images of sonic objects, Organ. Sound 15(1), 54–62 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 35.32
    R.I. Godøy, E. Haga, A.R. Jensenius: Playing air instruments: Mimicry of sound-producing gestures by novices and experts. In: GW2005, LNAI 3881, ed. by S. Gibet, N. Courty, J.-F. Kamp (Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg 2006) pp. 256–267Google Scholar
  33. 35.33
    K. Nymoen, R.I. Godøy, A.R. Jensenius, J. Torresen: Analyzing correspondence between sound objects and body motion, ACM Trans. Appl. Percept. 10(2), 9 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 35.34
    B.C.J. Moore: Hearing (Academic, San Diego 1995)Google Scholar
  35. 35.35
    R. Gjerdingen, D. Perrott: Scanning the dial: The rapid recognition of music genres, J. New Music Res. 37(2), 93–100 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 35.36
    E. Pöppel: A hierarchical model of time perception, Trends Cogn. Sci. 1(2), 56–61 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 35.37
    R.I. Godøy: Reflections on chunking in music. In: Systematic and Comparative Musicology: Concepts, Methods, Findings, ed. by A. Schneider (Peter Lang, Frankfurt 2008) pp. 117–132Google Scholar
  38. 35.38
    N. Hogan, D. Sternad: On rhythmic and discrete movements: Reflections, definitions and implications for motor control, Exp. Brain Res. 181, 13–30 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 35.39
    S.T. Klapp, R.J. Jagacinski: Gestalt principles in the control of motor action, Psychol. Bull. 137(3), 443–462 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 35.40
    H. Haken, J. Kelso, H. Bunz: A theoretical model of phase transitions in human hand movements, Biol. Cybern. 51(5), 347–356 (1985)MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 35.41
    R.I. Godøy: Understanding coarticulation in musical experience. In: In: Sound, Music and Motion Lecture Notes in Computer Science, ed. by M. Aramaki, M. Derrien, R. Kronland-Martinet, S. Ystad (Springer, Berlin 2014) pp. 535–547Google Scholar
  42. 35.42
    S.T. Grafton, A.F. Hamilton: Evidence for a distributed hierarchy of action representation in the brain, Hum. Mov. Sci. 26, 590–616 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 35.43
    R.I. Godøy: Quantal elements in musical experience. In: Sound–Perception–Performance. Current Research in Systematic Musicology, ed. by R. Bader (Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg 2013) pp. 113–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 35.44
    S.T. Klapp, J.M. Nelson, R.J. Jagacinski: Can people tap concurrent bimanual rhythms independently?, J. Motor Behav. 30(4), 301–322 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 35.45
    R.I. Godøy: Gestural affordances of musical sound. In: Musical Gestures: Sound, Movement and Meaning, ed. by R.I. Godøy, M. Leman (Routledge, New York 2010) pp. 103–125Google Scholar
  46. 35.46
    D. Rocchesso, F. Fontana: The Sounding Object (Edizioni di Mondo Estremo, Firenze 2003)Google Scholar
  47. 35.47
    U. Zölzer: DAFX: Digital Audio Effects (Wiley, Chichester 2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 35.48
    R. Cogan: New Images of Musical Sound (Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge 1984)Google Scholar
  49. 35.49
    B. Schäffer: Introduction to Composition (PWM, Warsaw 1976)Google Scholar
  50. 35.50
    A.R. Jensenius: Some video abstraction techniques for displaying body movement in analysis and performance, Leonardo: J. Int. Soc. Arts Sci. Technol. 46(1), 53–60 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 35.51
    R. Thom: Paraboles et Catastrophes (Flammarion, Paris 1983)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  52. 35.52
    I. Xenakis: Formalized Music (Pendragon, Stuyvesant 1992)Google Scholar
  53. 35.53
    L. Van Noorden: The functional role and bio-kinetics of basic and expressive gestures in activation and sonification. In: Musical Gestures: Sound, Movement and Meaning, ed. by R.I. Godøy, M. Leman (Routledge, New York 2010) pp. 154–179Google Scholar
  54. 35.54
    F. Delalande, M. Formosa, M. Frémiot, P. Gobin, P. Malbosc, J. Mandelbrojt, E. Pedler: Les Unités Sémiotiques Temporelles: Éléments Nouveaux d’analyse Musicale (Marseille, Édition MIM-Documents Musurgia 1996)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rolf Inge Godøy
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of MusicologyUniversity of OlsoOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations