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What is sound?

As far as we need to know, sound is a physical irregularity in solid, liquid and gaseous matter.

It is produced by the vibration of molecules in matter and is heard or "felt" by our sense organs. The reason I use the term "sensed" here is that, contrary to popular belief, sound is not only a phenomenon that living beings can hear with their ears, but also a type of energy that they can feel with their bodies. We need to know this because, theoretically, human beings can perceive between 20Hz and 20kHz with their ears. In real life, this theoretical information is usually between 30-35Hz and 15kHz. Even if we are completely deaf beyond the treble frequency limit, the rest of the bass frequency value can be felt to some extent due to the energy it creates. But again, it is not possible to speak of a meaningful sound that we can clearly distinguish with our ears. An example of this can be found in elephants. Although elephants cannot perceive very low frequencies with their ears, they have natural receptors in their feet that can detect very low frequencies. This again proves that sound is not only a phenomenon that we can perceive with our ears, but also a type of energy that we can feel with our bodies.

I will try to talk about how to utilize this feature of sound in creative sound design in the following articles.


We can say that matter is fundamentally necessary for sound to occur. Theoretically, sound cannot form and propagate in a vacuum. Because as I mentioned in the definition of sound, the phenomenon we call sound consists of the vibration of matter. Since we agree on this, we can take a look at the effects of these environments on sound. Sound carries the character of its source in the first link of the chain. Suppose you hit a thick iron pipe against a stone floor. The first factor affecting the sound here is the characteristic of the thick piece of iron, followed by the characteristic of the ground it hits. It is not difficult to guess that the sound will not be the same when you hit the same iron pipe on a wooden floor. But what if we tried to hit this iron pipe on a stone floor in an indoor basketball court and then in the living room of our house? Would we get the same result?


I will try to address acoustics, which is a separate field of expertise in itself, within the framework of what I know without going beyond my limits. Let's continue with our previous example. Although the object in our hands and the ground it interacts with are the same, acoustics is the superpower that creates a huge difference in the sound produced. You may have heard before how some historical opera and theater halls have perfect acoustics, where the sound reaches from a naked source to the person at the very back in a perfect way. Acoustics is the name of the power that makes this possible. When I was talking about the formation of sound, I mentioned that sound can only be created by vibrating matter in an environment where there is matter. So what happens to these substances after they vibrate so that they reach our ears? The answer is again very chaotic, by hitting any matter it comes across. In practice, we cannot hear any sound in its original form as it comes out of the source. Every sound that comes out of the source takes on the character of the environment in which it propagates and reaches our ears. Sometimes it's the huge rock corridors of a canyon, sometimes it's the walls of your room, sometimes it's a barrel. What we want to do when organizing sound, performing for an audience or making a recording is to control this chaotic law of physics in a way that best suits our purpose. Various sound absorbing, sound dispersing and sound directing instruments can be used for this purpose. I would also like to add the following information as a footnote. Contrary to popular belief, acoustic regulation does not mean sound insulation, nor does it mean completely dry sound, sound that does not reflect at all. It has nothing to do with sound insulation because sound insulation is about the sound inside staying inside and the sound outside not entering the environment. It is not interested in how the sound inside is distributed in the space. The issue of non-reflected sound is a desirable effect for some situations and an undesirable effect for others. If you're doing acoustics for a room where you're mastering, or for a theater hall, a dry acoustic is the last thing you want. But if you're recording foley, or instruments or vocals where you don't want any ambient reverberation, you might want a dry acoustic. I believe that more details about the science of acoustics can be found in much more in-depth and professionally created resources for the curious reader. I hope that this and future articles will be a spark for you.

© 2022 Talha E. Biskin

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