Sonic Space

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Sonic Space

Post by merlyn »

Practically speaking sonic space is infinite. It’s bigger than the Visible Universe.

Consider one second of digital audio. How many different seconds can be represented using sixteen bits and forty four thousand, one hundred samples?

Using permutations and combinations it’s possible to work this out. Each sample can have 2^16 = 65536 different values and there are 44100 samples in one second. So the number of different seconds is

n = 65536^44100

That is a very large number. To get an idea of how unimaginably huge that number is physicists estimate there are around 10^120 fundamental particles in the Universe. Even if it was possible to use the quantum state of a proton to store a one or a zero there aren’t enough protons in the universe to store every possible different second of digital audio.

No-one could listen to every possible second. The Universe hasn’t existed for long enough to play them all back.

65536^44100 seconds ≈ 185 * 10^212397 years

Compared to which the 13.77 * 10^9 years in which the Universe has existed is a mere blink of an eye.

One of those seconds when reconstructed is the first second of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. One of the seconds is the first second of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony interrupted by the Nokia ringtone. One of the seconds is Beethoven’s Ninth played on a nose flute. One of the seconds is Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the first violins replaced by a theremin.

Somewhere within those seconds is the Ninth going through a flanger, the Ninth mastered with every piece of software that has ever existed or ever will exist, and the Ninth recorded with a dodgy, crackling mic lead.

One of those seconds is every piece of music that has ever been written playing back at the same time. Other seconds are all the possible combinations of levels of every piece of music ever written playing back at the same time.

Given that, have fun exploring the infinite!
Last edited by merlyn on Thu Oct 03, 2019 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sonic Space

Post by milo »

Nice way to put it in perspective. Sonic space is even bigger for those of us using 48KHz.

Our job, as composers, musicians, and recording engineers, is to find and extract from that pile of seconds the ones that are worth listening to, the ones that have meaning for us.

We are not infinite monkeys in this task; we are artists.
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