Vol. 15 No. 1 (2022): Public Art and Aesthetics

The spatiality of sounds. From sound-source localization to musical spaces

Nicola Di Stefano
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche

Published 2022-08-02


  • Auditory perception,
  • Crossmodal correspondences,
  • Musical space,
  • Phenomenology

How to Cite

Di Stefano, N. (2022). The spatiality of sounds. From sound-source localization to musical spaces. Aisthesis. Pratiche, Linguaggi E Saperi dell’estetico, 15(1), 173–185. https://doi.org/10.36253/Aisthesis-13617


The proliferation of and interest in concepts of musical space make the question of why composers, philosophers, and musicologists have used spatial concepts for music – which is typically considered a temporal and ephemeral art form – a relevant issue in the multidisciplinary research on music. In this paper, I suggest distinguishing between a literal and a metaphorical meaning of the term “space” when applied to music and sounds. Thereafter, I investigate the reasons that might have lain behind the metaphorical use of spatial concepts for music, focusing on the concept of movement in music and examining relevant studies in the field of audiovisual correspondences which show that listeners consistently match certain acoustic features to spatial features. Finally, I claim that both the metaphorical and the literal uses of spatial concepts for describing music are rooted in the way people perceive the dynamic change of acoustic features in terms of a (pseudo)spatial phenomenology. 


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