Submerged in Air. Immersed in sound.
Updated: Sep 13
| The Unmarketing Agency | Singapore | India | DubaiStorytelling through sonic experiences
Wherever you are, close your eyes for 30 seconds when we reach the end of this paragraph, and ask yourself and try to answer the following questions: What did you last see? And what did you last hear? Can you remember where that sound came from? Can you visualise the nature and story of the sound?
Considering you did it right, you will realise an interesting fact. The last thing you probably saw was this, the article right in front of you. The periphery of your vision may have captured some other elements in front of you. The things you heard and continue hearing however, followed no such directional limitation. The existence of a phenomenon is made aware to you through what you hear in the totality of your environment, at all times. While you are reading this, you are also hearing things going around you. You may or may not be consciously aware, (now you probably are, forgive me). You will be surprised at all the things we can hear, if only we choose to listen. This may seem philosophical, and perhaps it is, but it is rooted in science and how the brain works to interpret what we hear. We humans (and probably all life that is capable of hearing, although research is still enroute), have selective hearing. What we think of as hearing, is the effect. The analysis of our brain as how we perceive vibrations in the air. The takeaway from this is food for thought. When we close eyes, even when we blink, the world disappears for a moment. However, in the presence or absence of a visual cue, you still can hear everything around you. We are submerged in air, constantly immersed in sound.
Consider this, what we see is only a fraction of our cognitive experience.
Before the invention and discovery of languages, the practice of communication was very aural-sonic oriented. Knowledge was passed down through generations in forms of stories that were first told and then written. Bards and minstrels would sing songs and heralds would be heralding… Our field of vision in focus is limited to only 50 - 60 degrees in front of us and yet we are constantly processing information through our 5 primary senses, regardless, correlating it to memory and analysing priority lists, emotional cues, intellectual thought and pondering spiritual quests. And in all of this, what we see is only 1/6th of the capacity of our preceptive capabilities, not considering our other senses of smell, touch and taste. In all of this, if there was any sensory perception that was omnidirectional and constantly seeking stimuli, it is our sense of hearing.
Visual communication is a powerful tool for storytelling and yet, when you read a novel, or hear a story that has no such visual cue, our imagination fills up the void. You are probably reading this article in a voice inside your head. The process of branding and experiential marketing aims to integrate your brand with the human senses of your customers. Branding is the process of turning your organisation into an organism with the outward and inward properties of Identity and expression.
Music and sound hold the power to bring visual stories to life.
The best way to turn a horror film into a comedy is to hit the mute button. In a great film, there are two storylines. One that is seen and the other, heard. One that is obvious, and the other that is subliminal. Can you imagine an Alfred Hitchcocks, ‘Psycho’ without the flurry of violin ‘stabs’, or Stephen Spielberg’s Jaws without the apprehensive steps of the orchestra? George Lucas’s Star Wars without the sounds of theLightsaber and the iconic musical liet-motif that made Dath Vader and the Death Star of the Galactic Empire, terrifying! Perhaps even Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, without the dead silence of space. Music and sound design create the emotional atmosphere of visual communication. It creates a bridge for the audience to emotionally connect with the story that is being told. It’s something like the debate between the heart and the brain. However in reality, they are two sides of the same coin, creating an integrated experience for the audience. Only when both are connected, can something truly magical be created. Then again, on account of being musically inclined myself, stories are first told and heard.
Despite the encompassing role of our auditory systems, branding communications that aim to integrate the auditory senses are vastly understated and underused. All that we know of sonic branding and creating sonic logos is merely a scratch on the surface of an ocean of potential. The rise of the audio user experience is now. With technology systems being voice operated, electric cars making a segue into mass markets, and overcrowded visual stimulation for consumers, a sonic strategy incorporating music and sound design for your brand is an essential investment to stay relevant even with eyes around you, closed.