The acoustic phenomenon of ‘cocktail party’
The term ‘cocktail party effect’ derives from acoustics and refers to the possibility to distinguish the voice of a particular speaker amid the noisy confusion produced by a plethora of overlapping voices and conversations. In this article I propose a conceptual elaboration of the term by considering the acoustic phenomenon in question, both literally and metaphorically, as one of the most characteristic conditions shaping contemporary collective and acoustic experience in environments overloaded with information. In the first part, I discuss the conditionsthat give rise to the cocktail party acoustic phenomenon, as they relate to particular types of social, communicative and listening practices. In the second part, I present a case study of the phenomenon based on the creation of a soundscape composition developed in conjunction with a written text, both occasioned by the political activity in the public space of the Syntagma Square in Athens during the summer of 2011.
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