X (2016)

I <i>quanta</i> acustici di Gabor nelle tecnologie del suono e della musica

Published 2016-06-15

How to Cite

Di Scipio, A. (2016). I <i>quanta</i> acustici di Gabor nelle tecnologie del suono e della musica. Musica/Tecnologia, 10, 17–42. https://doi.org/10.13128/Music_Tec-18434


Through a series of brillant paper publications dating from the late 1940s, Dennis Gabor developed a new conceptual and operational framework for the analysis of sound signals, based on a quantum-oriented view of acoustical phenomena. In the present essay, I try to illustrate the shaping up of Gabor’s quantum analysis of sound, especially as delineated in two papers from 1946 (Theory of communication) and 1947 (Acoustical quanta and the theory of hearing), and to overview its legacy in scientific research as well as in audio and musical applications. After some introductory remarks, I follow a hybrid path, between history of science and history of audio technology, sketching a “genealogy” of Gabor’s quantum view of sound (i.e. as connected to Heisenberg’s indeterminacy principle, to Mach’s analysis of sensation, etc.), and relating it to an empiricist tradition of modern science. I eventually situate his research in the context of contemporary research preoccupations shared by other, at the time, and I finally discuss some of the earliest audio devices that seem to tie back to Gabor’s own practical experiments (beside his theoretical framework) and that revealed of primary interest to pioneers in analog and digital music technologies and related creative practices.


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