Abstract Charalampos Saitis 13 November 2019
Imagine yourself listening to a recording of the famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin (1916–1999) performing on his Khevenhüller Strad. How would you describe the sound of the violin, or the “sound” of Menuhin, or the sound quality of the recording? Timbral qualities of sound are often conceptualized and communicated through readily available sensory attributes from other modalities, for example, a sound seen as bright, felt as warm, or tasted as sweet, because humans lack a sensory vocabulary for auditory experiences. This exemplifies a particular aspect of human cognition known as crossmodal correspondences: people make many crossmodal associations between sensory experiences in different modalities (e.g., sweeter tastes are matched to rounded shapes and lower-pitched sounds). I will argue that a systematic investigation of crossmodal correspondences between timbral qualities of sound and perceptual dimensions of other sensory modalities can bringing a new perspective into addressing old questions about the cognitive and neural processes underlying the metaphorical ways we talk about sound. Results will have an impact on diverse disciplines where timbre raises important issues, such as music creation, audio engineering and branding, instruments and interaction, human and machine hearing, psychology, and aesthetics. At the same time, timbre can provide a fruitful test case for understanding crossmodal correspondences and human semantic processing in general.