Audio is generally spilt into two categories, sound and music.
There is an important question raised here about the difference between sound and music.
It is generally accepted that a single note would be a sound and not music, but at what
point does sound become music? In general sound is defined to be a measurable
vibration, for example;
“Vibrations transmitted through an elastic solid or a liquid or gas, with frequencies in
the approximate range of 20 to 20,000 hertz, capable of being detected by human
organs of hearing.”
“Transmitted vibrations of any frequency.”
“The sensation stimulated in the organs of hearing by such vibrations in the air or
There are already many interfaces which make use of sound in some way or another.
Even the most basic computer will use sound; for example when booting up the computer
if something is wrong you will hear that ominous ‘beep’. Another example would be in
Microsoft Windows where if you go to delete a file you will hear an attention grabbing
‘ding’ alerting you to the fact you just asked to delete a file and if you are sure you really
want to do that. These sorts of sounds can prove to be very useful, particularly if the cat
has just walked across the keyboard and accidentally requested to delete an important
file, as you are alerted by the familiar ‘ding’ sound that something is happening that
should not be! There are also other sounds which can be used within interfaces such as
earcons(Alty et al., 1997), which are at present predominantly used by blind people and
are an audio equivalent to icons. They use a distinctive sound to represent different items,
such as different types of files and folders, where as icons use distinctive visual pictures.