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Wet Sounds Creates Underwater Music Experience

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posted on 05/03/2014

At what first sounded like whale music, a new project to demonstrate the difference in sound, heard through water instead of conventional means is working its way throughout the UK via art installations at swimming pools up and down the country.

The project, Wet Sounds was created by Joel Cahen and has already had a tour throughout the UK back in 2008. It's now back and making waves once more. So what's it all about?

Wet Sounds effectively creates three sound spaces in the physical space of the swimming pool. One inside the water, one outside the water and one a merger of the two as the listener floats on the surface of the water. These three distinct sound spaces are chosen by the listeners as they move in and out of the water. The three sound spaces are used to convey parallel narratives, musical and literal.

Sound travels 4.5 times faster in water than it does in air. This cancels directionality in water as the brain does not notice the slight differences in the arrival time of the sound at the two ears. Sound is also perceived through direct vibrations of the nerve in the inner ear which gives the sensation of hearing, therefore it bypasses the outer and middle ear hearing mechanisms. Wet Sounds has had accounts of positive feedback from people hard of hearing that they can hear the sounds underwater.

There's a more indepth video on the BBC website here.

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