Culture: Music
SpeakOver Music   (+2, -1)  [vote for, against]
leaving space for conversation

I always thought it would be nice, in certain environments like clubs, or chillout rooms at raves, to mix out the frequencies that one needs to hear for speech to be intelligible. There are IIRC one or two specific frequency bands, like I think 2-4kHz, which is where a lot of speech information is transferred, such as the "SSS" and "HHH" sounds of sibilant consonants.

This could be achieved using a graphic equalizer, or by composing music which is designed to fit into the remaining bandwidth.

Then the music could be as loud as you like, and you could still carry on a conversation over the top of it.
-- BunsenHoneydew, Dec 28 2002

but could you still hear the words in the music?
-- yamahito, Dec 28 2002

can you ever? even if you can hear the words in music, it's often not that important to these places.

i like how this person thinks. pastry!
-- sadie, Dec 28 2002

and yet...there are no votes.....oh, sadie? did ya' forget somethin'?
-- Marassa, Dec 28 2002

blerg. i'm slow today.
-- sadie, Dec 28 2002

Cute. The sound would be odd, though, depending on how large a frequency gap you would have to leave. How much of the music you would have to sacrifice to hear speech would make or break this idea. One croissant, with the middle bitten out.
-- st3f, Dec 28 2002

Perhaps a feedback circuit that listens to the environment (mic), discriminates conversation and modifies the music signal to avoid the conversation using equalization, notching, cancellation, volume control and other pyscho-acoustic stuff that I know little about; in essence, automatically "ducking" the music under the conversation. In a structure-wide music system installation, the system could dim the music wherever you are having a conversation, even as you walk from room-to-room.

Or not.

One other point worth making is that music systems that are exceptionally clean, having little harmonic distortion and very good reproduction, are generally easier to talk over than the typical system. At least that is my experience.
-- bristolz, Dec 28 2002

The feedback system bristolz suggested could modify the music by taking the sounds in the range of speech and moving them either up or down an octave or more (I believe an octave is a doubling or halving of frequency).
-- Bert6322, Dec 28 2002

"I believe an octave is a doubling or halving of frequency"

Depends on the temperament of the scale. In an equal temperment the octaves are, unsurprisingly, equally spaced. In other tunings, the spacing is tweaked to favor certain characteristics that may be more pleasing to the ear than the certainty of equal temperament.
-- bristolz, Dec 28 2002

It might be OK to reduce these "speech" frequencies by 1/2 so that the lyrics can still be heard.
-- andrewm, Mar 09 2003

Maybe we could bake something like the scene in David Lynch's "Fire Walk With Me" (I think it was) wherein subtitles are rendered on screen in an extremely loud nightclub: a sensor on your jawbone goes to a speech-to-text device with a readout scrolling across an L.E.D. board on your chest.

Come to think of it, I'd be rather surprised if that weren't here already.
-- snarfyguy, Mar 09 2003

random, halfbakery