Copyright ©2001-2019 Marshall Rendina. All rights reserved.

Space in Hearing, Vision, and the Kinesthetic

In this project, notes are distributed randomly throughout a table, and the variation of registers causes there to be no melodic contour. Notes are filtered into chords and all major and minor chords are used – there is no tonal center. The chords are organized into geometric regions of adjacent triangles, each note having a unique location as the vertex of a triangle. Major thirds progress along one edge and minor thirds progress along another edge, while fifths progress along a third edge in what is called a Tonnetz. The topology of the structure is a torus.

I had thought the topology was a sphere and intended to use the project as part of a geodesic dome, however it is possible to use the structure as triangular sections of a dome. There are several ways to do this and it may be possible to have some of the triangles containing diminished and augmented chords rather than only major and minor chords.

A similar idea exists in my organization of red, green, and blue light into triangles – a triangular section may be used with each color point being surrounded by the other two in alternation such that any triangle has all three colors. This is in contrast to a pixel, where three colors are presented in a square. In the visual model, each point of color may belong to the traditional idea of a “pixel” in three directions surrounding it.

The effect produced as different chords are moved through is that of motion through space. A tonal center may thus be perceived as having a location in the mind of the listener and identified as a given note. Perhaps a drone played by a single musician in ancient times is responsible for our concept of a key center. Individual notes may only be high or low – and this perception is based on their positions relative to each other in a melodic contour. In this piece the contour of melody has been largely removed and we have only the pitches themselves organized into chords.

The relationship of a chord to a tonal center may cause a perceptual shift as well, and in this piece all minor and major chords are used in an organized manner such that continuous motion through all keys is possible. We are left with all twelve notes as potential tonal centers, each outside of the context of any recognizable melody or voice-leading. These individual notes, when they belong to a chord within a progression, though without lines, all possess the potential to acquire a unique perception of location within the mind of the listener – though perhaps not in the same sense in that of localizing sound in hearing itself outside one's body, but more an attempt to place the sounds relative to one another within one’s mind spatially.

As they had been organized geometrically in concept, though not physically, the relationships of chords to each other will possess some level of a spatial relationship. The continuous shifting of tonal centers, with each note belonging to a chord and to other chords adjacent in a pre-assigned geometric space, and without a definite melodic contour, allows for spatial movement and internal localization though in physicality there is none. In another explanation, chords contain notes in the harmonic series of another note. Harmonics are responsible for timbre. The mind seeks to find the locations of individual timbres, and it may perceive each key or chord as related to a unique timbre and sound source. Individual ears may localize sound by changes in frequency response when a person moves their head and both ears may compare the frequency responses in addition to delay time.

The thesis had included color motion sensing and was intended to show that kinesthetic, auditory, and visual senses all share a common spatial processing center within the brain or multiple interrelated centers that give the impression of awareness within the mind, forming the background of thought that is present at all times – and that this awareness exists similarly in altered states of meditation and dreaming. It was intended to be tied in with a geodesic dome design or icosahedron – as it has been used as a Kinesphere in movement studies, amphitheater design, and architectural structures. My own design would include an additional visual element using the colors of light distributed throughout the surface of the dome.

The project can be heard in this piece:

Surprise Indonesia II