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Sound Analysis – Assignment 3

September 11, 2009

(1) Ocarina (Harmonic and stable)

In looking for a sustained and harmonic note, the Ocarina’s warm and full sound was my first sonic spectral analysis.

Nightingale Spectrum

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Ocarina S-gram

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The ocarina’s warm, fuzzy sound can be explained by the spectrum, which shows a very consistent sustained fundamental frequency (around 390hz) along with a group of harmonic frequencies trailing to the right. The spectrogram confirms this, with a complete look at the unwavering band of high amplitude frequency which, as we hear, comprises the ocarina’s sustained, harmonious note.

(2) Woodpecker hammering (Sharp attack, short sounds)

I went for a woodpeckers hammering to achieve a group of staccato sounds.

Ocarina Spectrum

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Woodpecker S-gram

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Expectedly, the hammering of the woodpecker makes a fairly poor Spectrum due to the fact that the woodpeckers drilling is not sustained (and therefore never truly defines a sonic pitch). Using the spectrogram, however, we can see the individual knocks prominently represented by sharp attacks at distinct intervals. And more so, by analysing each specific hammer instant, we can see that there is a prominent frequency given by the high amplitude (near 1080 hz) – this frequency  is what gives the woodpecker a nearly identical pitch with each interval knock. With this recording there is a little bit of bleed from the outdoors lofi environment – which contributes even more to the lack of a truly defined pitch.

(3) Gong (Inharmonious sound)

The gong was perfect for a sound that was inharminious and, for me,  it really illustrated the fact that dissonance and beauty of sound are not necessarily opposed  sonic ideas.

Gong Spectrum

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Gong S-gram

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For the spectrum I decided to map one of the most dense moments towards the beginning of the gong hit. Looking at the map, you can clearly see that there are an almost uncountable number of prominent frequencies comprising the gong’s resonating tone. There seems to be one very low, loud frequency (45hz) but even this is not indicative of the total sound, especially due to the ear’s discrimination of low frequency at low volumes. Together, these two factors would make it almost prohibitively hard to pick out any one fundamental frequency or their harmonic frequencies. The spectrogram confirms this lack of a single pitch especially with the chaotic discontinuation of frequencies as the gong’s ring progresses (most notably between 60 and 100hz).

(4) Nightingale {1:15 secnds in…} (Bird Call)

Searching for a bird call, I googled the words “most beautiful bird calls” and came up with European Blackbird and Australian Magpies; they sounded ok but nothing really spoke to me. I thought about doing the loon but all the calls were too far away. Finally I stumbled upon one of the most downloaded freesound clips of a nightingales song and became enamoured. I chopped up one of the most intriguing 5 second parts and mapped it on sonic visualizer.

Nightingale Spectrum

[Window:4096][Log Bins][Color:Fruit Salad]

Nightingale S-gram

[Window:4096][Log Bins][Color:Fruit Salad]

The nightingale’s call is one that seems very nuanced and controlled and we can see this evident in both the spectrum and the spectrogram that I grabbed. First, the spectrum shows that the nightingale has a very harmonious song with a very well defined pitch (with a fundamental frequency ranging from 1300 to 2000hz). There are also clearly marked harmonic frequencies that support the fundamental and give the bird it’s signature tone. The impeccable melodic control of the nightingale can be seen with the spectrogram by analysing its ramping up of the tone in ever so slight frequency increments over the course of the call. Not only that, but we can see that the decibels and therefore volume are also being brought up, which compounds this raise in intensity of the bird call. All in all, very impressive!!!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 13, 2009 6:12 pm

    I always like to see harmonic sounds, like the Ocarina, in a linear scale, so we can see better that the harmonics are equally spaced.

    Really nice descriptions and images. Very clear!!!

    …xavier

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