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Listen

by Pippa Kelmenson, Gemma Godfrey

A Senior Thesis Performance submitted to The Division of Arts at Bard College.

May, 2017.

Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.

Hearing has generally been conceptualized as a percussive affair: the sounds of the outside world beating on eardrums. It is once the sounds of the ear are amplified that listeners create polyrhythms by responding to acoustic information from the inside, out. In my second semester thesis, I produced specific intervals of ear-borne tones, accompanied by sound spectra to create superpositions and distortion products. The subtly shifting phase of rhythmic patterns acted as psychoacoustic byproducts of repetitive melodies. Not only was my audience able to hear how I internalize sound information, but they could also hear how their own ears responded to acoustic stimuli, with the assistance of their own response tones. These high-pitched melodies induced auditory distortion products and binaural beating that caused the ears of my listeners to act as listening devices. What were left were psychoacoustic illusions, tricking us into perceiving fantastic width and space.