Normally, I don’t have time for things that go viral on the internet, but since this phenomenon involved sound, I did pay some attention to it. My initial introduction to this very unusual sonic situation was via the Stephen Colbert “Tonight” Show, where he played this very unusual sound. What was unusual about it was that some people heard “Laurel” when it was played while others heard “Yanni”. Some heard both. I initially heard “Laurel” when Colbert played it. Andi heard “Yanni”. Then he played some clips of various news shows commenting about this sound—usually they played it through their cell phones and the fidelity was poor. And it was at this time, that I clearly heard “Yanni”. I thought that (among other things), this difference in which sound was heard was due to the equalization of the sound, the playback equipment and of course our ear.I Indeed, when I went on to the Internet, there were multitudinous sites as well as suggestions about why this sound phenomenon should occur. Among other things that were thus far determined was that a slightly higher percentage heard “Lauren” and that younger people heard “Yanni”.
I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions about what this means—I have lots of thoughts. In fact, I could definitely be amongst those who could discuss the psycho-acoustic aspect of this, but instead, I’ll just give you the opportunity to explore the internet. Enter “Laurel vs Yanni” and you’ll get scores of sites, youtubes, etc. You can decide for yourself why this happens. There are even sites that allow you to change the equalization and hear either “Laurel” or “Yanni” very distinctively, depending upon the EQ. It’s most interesting.
From my perspective, this is a wonderful example of how different equipment (and our ears) affect the sounds we receive. It is also a great demonstration of how we may all perceive of sound differently. And, for those of you who are musician, it really makes you wonder when you are mixing a song, what others are hearing.