I want to go and write music that announces to you that you can feel something. I don’t want to tell you what to feel, but I just want you to have the possibility of feeling something — Hans Zimmer
There is an old aphorism that says god is in the details. If you are one of those audiophiles who chooses a car based on the audio system inside, you know what I am talking about. Perhaps, you are the kind whose world is a whirlwind of choices to appease your earbuds or you are a music gourmand who believes that the purest form of a love affair is the one between music and your ears. This article talks about the science behind that love affair called psychoacoustics.
In 1860, Gustav Fechner in his book ‘Elements Of Psychophysics’ coined the term ‘psychophysical’. The term Psychoacoustics means the study of the psychophysical affects of acoustics. The word acoustics means relating to sound or hearing. A sound is nothing but a propagation of air waves by whatever made the sound. The human ear is an incredibly complex and beautiful analog to digital sound converter.
Around 350 BC, Aristotle was the first one to suggest sound was created by air waves. Many prominent scientists and philosophers such as Galileo, Kepler and Descartes studied different parts of psychoacoustics in the past. The seminal works of Hermann von Helmholtz and Gustav Fechner turned Psychoacoustics into a compilation of observations and a more scientific approach to sound and its effects on us. Their work focused attention on pitch and sound source localization.
In recent times, the study of sound and music and their impact on human cognition has been studied by computer scientists and audio system designers. Psychoacoustics is the scientific study of sound perception and audiology — how humans perceive various sounds. There are people in this world that dedicate their lives to studying how sound affects our mind and body ie our psychology and physiology.