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A Closer Look at The Aural Mode

What is the aural mode, again?

Aural describes something related to hearing; a mode that utilizes aural senses appears as music, sound effects, volume, tone, or even silence. Each modal element communicates differently and works beyond visual modes to shape emotions and understanding.

A closer look.

The aural mode is subtle yet powerful. Watch this Creative Commons video below or follow this link to get an idea why.

Before I pounce on the musical aspects of this video, I want to take a quick look at the voice over. Try switching out this narrator with a man. Or a British chap. Or maybe even an old lady. The effect wouldn’t be the same. A relaxed, young woman’s voice creates a pleasant, open atmosphere. If Ice Cube narrated this, would it be as pleasant? An agreeable voice actor complements the logical, sensible tone of this video. That said, I’m itching to talk about the music.

Creativity and innovation are central themes of this video. Let’s start with the former. Notice that while the video is talking about the importance of creativity, a bell-like melody is audible. What kind of feelings does it invoke in you? To me, it’s almost hesitant, quiet and exploratory – all characteristics of the creative process. The low volume befits a beginning and encourages the later crescendo of music and idea. Dominance is relinquished to the spoken words, emphasizing their importance.

The melody then blooms and a choppy, percussive melody is layered in. This is where the ideas in the video transition from abstract to concrete. They’ve told you how important your creativity is, now it’s time for you to hear why. Before the transition is complete, the combination of the two main melodies suggests that creativity and innovation are related.

At around 0:50, the bell-like melody drops, and the off-beat technical music reigns. The video is now getting into the meat of how they’re going to help you. Instead of abstract creativity, we’ve now moved into full-on innovation, which the technical music supports well. Innovation nowadays means new iPhones, augmented reality, and smaller computer chips – all technological advancements. That association is imprinted on the idea by the music. The music also employs factory-like repetition to further this connection.

Another distinct change happens at 1:11. The song abruptly switches from a cantankerous chorus to a single voice which recaptures your attention. This occurs in tandem with a new idea to focus on. The song begins it’s climb once again, this time adding fresh sounds to reinvigorate your interest. Again, voices are added one by one until the video ends on a full choir. The End.

So what.

Looking closely at how the music leads you through the video makes its purpose clear. It supports an abstract, creative mood at the beginning and grows more technical as innovation gains prevalence. Then, it stops dead and begins again to keep your attention and support the tone of the topic.

The aural mode affords emotion and guides subconsciously. Its appearance alongside the video makes up for the visual and lexical modes’ lack of emotion and direction and allows them to focus on what they’re showing and saying. Choosing the correct combination of modes is just as important as realizing the potential of any one mode. But, for now, I hope we all have a clearer understanding of one of the most powerful modes – aural.


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