Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Auditory Description

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
Auditory Description

What’s that you hear, carried upon the wind? Why, it’s one of the five sensory descriptions: the auditory description. An auditory description is any description concerned with how something sounds. This might sound straightforward, but there are many kinds of auditory descriptions, as well as tricks with how to identify them and how to use them.

Definition and Purpose of Auditory Description

An auditory description, which describes how something sounds, is used to engage the reader’s memories and emotions. Like with any of the five modes of sensory description, the auditory description is just one way to thus engage the reader.

Auditory descriptions have the distinction of describing dialogue. How someone says something is often just as or more important than what someone says, and it is often the job of the auditory description to get the “how” across. Additionally, auditory descriptions can describe things at various distances.

Auditory description Sense of room StudySmarterA sense of what's inside, flaticon.

When you are in a room, you can only objectively see, touch, and taste what is in that room. You might be able to smell something close by. However, you can hear construction work, sirens, and even music and voices far, far away from where you are. The auditory description controls how these things are perceived in the written world.

How to Identify an Auditory Description

There are some truly unique aspects to audio that makes the auditory description often more technical than other sensory descriptions. Here is why, and how you can keep it all straight in your head.

Auditory descriptions of sounds

Although it might not seem like it, sounds are concrete nouns.

Concrete nouns are forms of matter and energy.

Audio is kinetic mechanical energy. Here are auditory descriptions of sounds.

The music was beautiful.

His voice was piercing.

I hear the soft patter of footsteps.

In these examples, “music,” “voice,” and “footsteps” are sound words. They are not material things. In the case of someone who is deaf, the subject changes entirely. For example, “voice” would not be the subject at all, but rather the mouth of the person being visually read.

Many sensory descriptions describe forms of matter. You see the drummer. You feel the guitar strings against your fingers. You smell the sweat. You taste the sweat. But you hear the music.

Auditory description Sound of music StudySmarterDo you hear what I hear? flaticon.

Auditory descriptions thus differ from the other forms of sensory description because instead of describing forms of matter, they describe energy (in the form of sound waves), action nouns such as a "shout," or verbs.

Auditory descriptions of verbs and gerunds

Speaking of actions, the subject of an auditory description can be a verb or a gerund.

A verb is an action word.

A gerund is a verb used as a noun. They are actions that end in “-ing” and function as nouns.

Here are examples of auditory descriptions with verbs:

Her cellphone rang melodiously.

The Queen boomed ominously.

The dice rattled dramatically in the tray.

To identify these descriptions, let's look at adverbs.

Adverbs describe verbs and often end in “-ly.”

If the verb is a sound verb, and there is an adverb to describe it, you have identified an auditory description. Here are some examples of auditory descriptions of gerunds:

The soft clanging of pots and pans reminded me of my youth.

I heard the light jingling of sleigh bells.

The loud roaring of Cerberus deafened the gnolls.

For these, you are looking for -ing nouns with some kind of descriptor, such an adjective or a phrase that works like an adjective. Gerunds and their descriptors are frequently preceded by “the.”

When identifying any kind of description, the technical terms don’t matter that much. In other words, don’t sweat it trying to figure out if something is in fact an “adverbial phrase.” It might help, but it might not. At the end of the day, something is not a description based on a set of grammatical or syntactic rules. It is a description if something is being described. These are the only two elements required in a description. Anecdotes are a kind of description, and they are not dependent on grammar or syntax in any way! As you study, delve only as deep as you think it is beneficial.

Objective Auditory Description with Examples

Objective auditory description involves literal hearing. It is a description of somebody physically hearing something, and how that sounds.

His voice was piercing.

Her cellphone rang melodiously.

I heard the light jingling of sleigh bells.

All of these examples, which we have seen before of course, try to describe sound without resorting to opinion. That said, “objective” auditory descriptions are the most dubiously “objective” of the sensory descriptions. This is because sounds are forms of energy. Although sound can be objectively measured using decibels, for instance, most auditory descriptions are modestly objective descriptions.

A modestly objective description creates a casually accurate mental representation of the subject in the reader’s mind.

A modestly objective description is intended to be simple. It is lightly interpretable. On the other hand, a subjective auditory description is explicitly an opinion. The intent of a subjective description is to provide a unique perspective on something.

Subjective Auditory Description with Examples

A subjective auditory description is opinionated. It is more interpretable than an objective auditory description. This example presents a strong perspective, which is indicative of a subjective description:

Her voice was horribly piercing, such that I couldn’t stand it.

Notice the context clues that help us identify this description as subjective.

Context clues occupy the space around the target description. They contextualize the place, time, and reason for the description.

“Such that I couldn’t stand it” gives a reason for the descriptor “horribly piercing,” which is itself a strong phrase. The stronger the phrase, the more likely it is to be subjective.

Don’t stop there, though. Imagine that this was the passage:

The banshee opened her mouth and began to wail. Her voice was horribly piercing, such that I couldn’t stand it.

The context is expanded here to include a mythological being, a banshee, whose voice is objectively unbearable. The passage is no longer subjective because it is no longer intended to convey a perspective; it is intended to convey the properties of a banshee’s wail.

The point is, to study the passage closely to know whether an auditory description is subjective or objective!

If a description is subjective, then the author, narrator, or character will be providing their unique perspective on a subject. Their perspective is “unique” because someone with a different opinion might describe that same subject very differently. Objective descriptions are not ripe for argument, unlike subjective ones. At the end of the day, though, there is no perfect scientific method to understanding a writer’s intent, or whether something is objective or subjective, so you will just have to try your best.

Figurative Auditory Description with Examples

A figurative auditory description describes how something sounds by comparing it to something else. Simile and metaphor are often employed for these descriptions.

Simile: The motorbike starting up sounded like an erupting volcano.

Metaphor: Every lie he spoke was another claw against the chalkboard.

These descriptions involve an actual sound, but they are described in reference to another sound.

Onomatopoeia

Recall our simplified definition of a description. It is a description if something is being described. Fundamentally, onomatopoeia is an auditory description, because something that makes a sound is described using phonetic mimicry. Phonetic mimicry is translating a dog's bark to "woof" because that is what it approximately sounds like using phonemes. "Woof" is an example of onomatopoeia.

Other examples of onomatopoeia are words like “moo,” “bang,” and “meow,” all of which also phonetically mimic a sound. They will sometimes be italicized.

The skates made a sound like skktch skktch on the ice.

Onomatopoeias are so useful and so ubiquitous that they can themselves be nouns and verbs that can in turn be further described.

The cow gave a loud moo.

Onomatopoeias are easily recognizable, and one of the most unique forms of sensory description that a writer has in their arsenal.

Auditory description Dog barking StudySmarterWoof woof! flaticon.

Auditory - Key Takeaways

  • Whereas other sensory descriptions often refer to forms of matter, auditory descriptions often refer to sound, which is a form of energy.
  • If a concrete noun is a form of matter, the description of it is probably something besides an auditory description.
  • Auditory descriptions often refer to actions and movements. Look for verbs, gerunds, and action nouns.
  • There are objective, subjective, and figurative auditory descriptions.
  • Onomatopoeia is is a highly unique auditory description. Something that makes a sound is described using phonetic mimicry.

Frequently Asked Questions about Auditory Description

An auditory description, which describes how something sounds, is used to engage the reader’s memories and emotions.

His voice was piercing.

This is called onomatopoeia. To write an onomatopoeia, you describe a sound using phonetic mimicry. This is like "woof" or "moo."

Final Auditory Description Quiz

Question

An auditory description is concerned with how something _____.

Show answer

Answer

Sounds

Show question

Question

Can auditory descriptions describe dialogue?

Show answer

Answer

Yes! They have they unique distinction of this.

Show question

Question

"An auditory description engages the reader's memories."

True or false?

Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

"An auditory description avoids an emotional connection."

True or false?

Show answer

Answer

False. 

Show question

Question

Is a sound a concrete noun?

Show answer

Answer

Yes, as it is a form of energy.

Show question

Question

A concrete noun is a form of matter or _____.

Show answer

Answer

Energy

Show question

Question

"The Tibetan chanting was sonorous."

Is this an auditory description?

Show answer

Answer

Yes.

Show question

Question

Do auditory descriptions often describe forms of matter? Why or why not?

Show answer

Answer

No, because non-moving objects don't make sound.

Show question

Question

What is a verb?

Show answer

Answer

An action word.

Show question

Question

Do auditory descriptions describe verbs?

Show answer

Answer

Yes, they can and often do!

Show question

Question

What is a gerund?

Show answer

Answer

A gerund is a verb used as a noun. They are actions that end in “-ing” and function as nouns.

Show question

Question

"The Queen boomed ominously' uses an adverb to describe a gerund."

True or false?

Show answer

Answer

False. Adverbs describe verbs.

Show question

Question

A subjective auditory description is _____.

Show answer

Answer

Opinionated

Show question

Question

If the author intends to convey the properties of a sound, what kind of auditory description is that?

Show answer

Answer

Objective auditory description.

Show question

Question

"Auditory descriptions do not employ more complex literary devices, such as metaphor."

True or false?

Show answer

Answer

False.

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Auditory Description quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.