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Systematic Musicology: Empirical and Theoretical Studies

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Edited By Albrecht Schneider and Arne von Ruschkowski

This volume contains articles most of which present empirical studies in the field of systematic musicology. Contributions in particular deal with aspects of melody including modeling and computer-assisted analysis as well as with various issues in sound and music perception, musical acoustics and psychoacoustics. Topics range from loudness perception in ‘Techno’ music to sound radiation in classical singing styles, and from timbre research to wave field synthesis and room acoustics. One focus of this volume is on pop and rock music, another is on ethno and folk music. In addition to empirical investigations, theoretical and methodological issues are addressed including some fundamental concepts in ethnomusicology and folk music scholarship.

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Albrecht Schneider, Arne von Ruschkowski: Techno, Decibels, and Politics: an Empirical Study of Modern Dance Music Productions, Sound Pressure Levels, and ‘Loudness Perception’

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13 Albrecht Schneider Arne von Ruschkowski Techno, Decibels, and Politics: an Empirical Study of Modern Dance Music Productions, Sound Pressure Levels, and ‘Loudness Perception’ Summary This paper focuses on possible hearing damage for mainly young people from exposure to excessively loud music in discotheques, clubs, live music venues or by using mp3- players. Current risk evaluating procedures do not take into account a number of factors in an appropriate way, especially when ‘high energy’ music like various styles of techno, trash metal, but even modern pop music, is listened to. In our investigation, we started out with the analysis of several pieces of music from various styles (Techno, Gabber, Pop, Trash Metal, etc.) regarding their level and spectral content. It could be shown that a high overall level combined with reduced dynamics, a high amount of energy in low frequency bands and pulse-like sounds are generally used as stylistic devices in modern popular music. Especially with pulse-like sounds, there is a great risk of hearing damage because high energy levels are reached in a very short time span. In addition, exagge- rated overall levels with reduced dynamics lead to a maximum of energy consumption by the hearing system for most of the listening time. Then, in a second step the tracks were played back over a professional sound system in a club located in Hamburg, recorded via an artificial head and analyzed for their sound pressure level with several common temporal and frequency weightings afterwards. It could be demonstrated that...

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