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Sound Morphing

June 20, 2007

A new technique makes an illusion for your ears.


Making sounds morph. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

[Baby crying…]

Don’t you sometimes wish crying babies sounded more like, say, pianos?

[…morphs into a piano]

Well, you have your wish, at least temporarily, thanks to acoustician Kelly Fitz of the Starkey Hearing Research Center. He says "morphing" sounds together makes for cool sound effects and innovative music.

KELLY FITZ (Starkey Hearing Research Center):
I always wanted to be a composer, and I thought that this way of working with sound was of interest but the tools just haven’t really been strong enough.

His new technique first breaks down two sounds into their component tones, like this.

[trumpet breakdown]

Then he adds the components of one sound to the other to make a seamless transformation.

[trumpet morphs to crying baby]

Oh, so we’re back to the baby again? Gotta run. Guess it’s my turn to change the diapers. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.