Organizing a sonic space through vocal imitations

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 8-11-2016


A two-dimensional space is proposed for exploration and interactive design in the sonic space of a sound model. A number of reference items, positioned as landmarks in the space, contain both a synthetic sound and its vocal imitation, and the space is geometrically arranged based on the acoustic features of these imitations. The designer may specify new points in the space either by geometric interpolation or by direct vocalization. In order to understand how the vast and complex space of the human voice could be organized in two dimensions, we collected a database of short excerpts of vocal imitations. By clustering the sound samples on a space whose dimensionality has been reduced to the two principal components, it has been experimentally checked how meaningful the resulting clusters are for humans. The procedure of dimensionality reduction and clustering is demonstrated in the case of imitations of engine sounds, giving access to the sonic space of a motor sound model.


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