Sound is a fugitive object. We live in a muted cosmic universe – the big silence – where aural comprehension is confined to only certain molecule-rich atmospheres of planets supporting species of living things with an evolved ability to hear. We’re just damned lucky to be one of them—and even luckier to know of our own good fortune.
Without volume or mass (at least not the kind that succumbs to gravity) sound on Earth is weightless, fleeting and ephemeral—certainly not the solid we think of when contemplating the form of a physical thing. And yet sound is described in just those tangible terms, as having color, weight, body or texture. It isn’t that the material world just happens to offer us a robust set of analogies; it’s also because sound is, to our comprehension, very much like an object—a transient form of object, one that moves through time. Its shape, it might be said, is something we sense fourth-dimensionally.