Sonic Representation and the Current Moment
Do embodied micro-gestures contribute to creating and perceiving coherent sounds streams?
The phenomenologist Edmund Husserl uncovered the perceptual structure of the current moment (the “specious present”) as it flows sequentially from the 'retained' (memory) of an event just passing to the “protended” (anticipated) event that follows. Recent findings in neuroscience support the theory that the neocortex is mainly a hierarchy of memory regions that learn and recall sequences. Sequence memory plays a large part in how we understand the world: we need it to understand touch, vision, speech, and music. We also use it to generate behavior. The discovery of specific types of 'mirror' neurons that are activated when intentional gestures are performed, heard and/or visually observed in others adds evidence to a theory of the embodied recognition of such memories, not only in humans but other animals, such as even between predator and prey.
Presenting musically sophisticated compositions without the assistance of embodied interpreters has been possible for less than a hundred years. Before then it was not meaningful to speculate on the extent to which the aural perception of musical continuity is dependent on the sound-encoded micro-gestures of performers. This lecture explores some of the dimensions of such dependencies based on evidence and speculates on whether the encoding of computer-synthesized sound streams with such micro-gestural transforms will improve their intelligibility.