Evaluating a Sonic Interaction Design Based on a Historic Theatre Sound Effect

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This paper reports on the procedure and results of a preliminary experiment to evaluate participants’ perceptual experiences of a mechanical theatre sound effect and its digital counterpart. The theatre sound effect chosen - an acoustic wind machine - affords a simple rotational gesture; turning its crank handle at varying speeds produces a convincing wind-like sound. A prototype digital model of a working acoustic wind machine was programmed. The mechanical interface of the acoustic wind machine drove both the digital model and its own acoustic sound in performance, therefore preserving the same tactile and kinaesthetic feedback across the two continuous sonic interactions. Participants were presented with two listening tests to examine the perceived similarity of these wind-like sounds and the perceived connection between the speed of the crank handle and the resulting sound. Participants’ performances of both the acoustic and digital systems were then elicited with sound stimuli pro- duced from simple gestural performances of the wind-like sounds. The results of this study show that, while the sound of the prototype digital model requires further calibration to bring the experience of its performance closer to that of its acoustic counterpart, the acoustic wind machine is significantly easier to play, and the mechanism of its interface may play a role in perceptually guiding performance gestures.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102836
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Studies
Early online date9 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.


  • sonic interaction design
  • digital musical instrument
  • enactive
  • experiment design
  • theatre sound effect

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