These sound-studies highlights of the week are lightly adapted from the July 25, 2022, issue of the free Disquiet.com weekly email newsletter This Week in Sound: tinyletter.com/disquiet.
As always, if you find sonic news of interest, please share it with me, and (except with the most widespread of news items) I’ll credit you should I mention it here.
▰ Sara Novic, who is deaf, writes about the comfort in silence: “Taking out my hearing aids is a relief, not unlike freeing my feet from a long day in dress shoes, except the thing being squeezed is my brain. I choose to wear hearing aids in a variety of work-related or social situations, but they create a dull throbbing around the circumference of my head. For all the technological power and benefit the aids provide, lately I’ve found their greatest value is in the pleasure of removing them.” ➔ nytimes.com
▰ A synesthete chef, Eric Kim, bakes an A.S.M.R. cake for a deceased friend. “The sound of people eating, chewing, enjoying food makes me sleepy, which is unfortunate, considering that I cook for a living. … I always thought I was a freak. I didn’t have a name for what I thought was a medical condition until 2012, when I stumbled upon a black-screen YouTube video of a young man eating a taco bowl. When I came to, an hour later, I had a name for it. Soon after that, I started making A.S.M.R. videos myself.” ➔ nytimes.com
▰ “In an ambitious cross-cultural study, researchers found that adults around the world speak and sing to babies in similar ways. … Regardless of whether it helps to know it, researchers recently determined that this sing-songy baby talk — more technically known as ‘parentese’ — seems to be nearly universal to humans around the world. … The results, published recently in the journal Nature Human Behavior, showed that in every one of these cultures, the way parents spoke and sang to their infants differed from the way they communicated with adults — and that those differences were profoundly similar from group to group.” ➔ nytimes.com
▰ “Leaving room for the sound design, even when there’s a cue playing, was an important part of the way I approached it.” That’s Michael Abels, who composed the score for Jordan Peele’s Nope (he also did Peele’s Get Out and Us), saying something not enough composers (or perhaps, more to the point, directors) give thought to. ➔ indiewire.com
▰ Thúy N Trần, CTO of Astrid, an education technology company, breaks down the way AI is impacting language-learning. ➔ venturebeat.com
▰ “A new feature that lets you extract a short audio clip from a Twitter Space is getting a widespread release on iOS and Android.” However, the clips expire after 30 days. ➔ theverge.com
▰ So-called “prairie madness,” an affliction of 19th-century settlers of the Great Plains of America, may have been the result of the region’s “eerie soundscape — the silence and the howling wind.” The work is by paleoanthropologist Alex D. Velez of the State University of New York at Oswego. ➔ atlasobscura.com (Thanks, Joe Planisky and Glenn Sogge!)
▰ “A federal lawsuit filed against the city of Chicago is calling into question law enforcement’s use of controversial gunshot detection technology for gathering key pieces of evidence. … The suit accuses police of putting ‘blind faith,’ in ShotSpotter’s supposed evidence.” ➔ gizmodo.com