The Six Dimensions of Sound
Sound connects us. It's one of the first senses we develop in the womb and one of the most powerful ways we connect with one another.
Hearing is our fastest sense. The human body can hear faster than it can see, taste or smell. Once a sound wave reaches your ear, your brain can recognize it in just 0.05 seconds. That's 10X faster than the blink of an eye. On top of that, ears are constantly active—you can't really switch them off unless you shove a plug into them.
Sound is one of the primary ways we create meaning—which has the power to inspire an emotional and physiological response to create a lasting impression.
Sound is closely tied to memory. Think about it—that's why we put the 26 letters of the alphabet to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", making the ABCs easier to learn and remember. This also explains why we still have that jingle stuck in our head (hello, earworms).
Sound has the power to carry, manipulate, and amplify meaning. It can influence how we perceive the world.
Crossmodal effects also work with spicy foods. "Spicy sounds" are higher in pitch, faster in tempo and high in distortion. Audio is already used as a flavor enhancer. Sainsbury's in London has a playlist specially composed to heighten the tastes of a special range of cheese.
Sound builds character. It reflects and communicates who we are. Just a few notes can define a hero, villain, and a brand.
Did you know that babies cry with an accent? A study from Würzburg University in Germany suggests that French babies were more likely to raise the pitch of the ends of their cries, similar to a French speaker's accent. The pitch of German babies' cries went down, consistent to a German speaker's accent.
Chimes, dings, beeps, and alarms—sound can inspire us to take action and respond. It's instinctual and operates at a subconscious level.
The average person hears about 100 alarms every day—telling us to wake up, respond to a message or to put on a seatbelt. Too many alarms and we might be at risk of alarm fatigue, becoming desensitized to the point that we ignore them. Places like hospitals are working to correct this trend.
Sound evokes vivid mental imagery that is specific to each unique life experience. Creating "theater of the mind."
Scientists studying brain processes involved in sight have found that the visual cortex uses information gleaned from our ears as well as our eyes. Because sounds create visual imagery, mental images, and automatic projections, what we hear gives meaning to what we see. Changing the sound changes the story.
This site has been adapted from an in-depth audio experience workshop lead by Pandora's Studio Resonate. For inquiries about how Studio Resonate can help you build and tackle your audio strategy, reach out.
Head over to Studio Resonate to find the latest updates, insights, and best practices on a brand's sonic strategy and audio advertising.
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