Home » Music In The Church » Splicing the SACRED with the SECULAR [Part 2/6]: Psychoacoustics

Splicing the SACRED with the SECULAR [Part 2/6]: Psychoacoustics

If you’re not familiar with Psychoacoustics, then, as a musician, you owe it to yourself to get familiar with it. Wikipedia says that:

Psychoacoustics is the scientific study of sound perception. More specifically, it is the branch of science studying the psychological and physiological responses associated with sound (including speech and music).

To read the entire article, please go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychoacoustics

The bottom line is that Psychoacoustics is that branch of science that proves that we, as humans, react to sound and, ultimately, music. If we were to visualize what that looks like, it would probably look like this:


For example, think about what you would do if you were to hear the following sounds:

1) A crying baby

2) Nails on a chalkboard

3) A mosquito buzzing in your ear

4) A car slamming on brakes and screeching to a halt

5) A police car, fire truck, or rescue squad siren

6) Your cell phone ringer

7) The sound of the voice of your significant other

I’m sure that as you were reading that list, the very thought of those sounds produced in you either an emotional or a physical response. Consider this… you were just reading that list and it did that. So let’s consider music. Think about what you would do if you were to hear the following music:

1. Scary orchestral music (think Hitchcock’s “Psycho” suite”)

2. An instrument out of tune

3. The squeak of a reed instrument

4. A tuba

5. The ascending slide of a trombone

6. The blaring loudness of a trumpet section (think of the theme to “Rocky”)

7. The electronic synthesized sound of a keyboard

Were you able to think of how all those musical sounds made you feel? Did you come up with a musical memory for any of them? Even if you didn’t react to anything on the list, you do react to whatever music you tend to listen to on a regular basis. I have a workshop that I teach at various churches that deals with the subject of Psychoacoustics and the reaction is always fun to watch because EVERYBODY REACTS TO MUSIC… which brings us to the basis question for this blog series:

Is it OK to splice SACRED music with SECULAR music?


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