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Here are some references. The first talks about techniques for synthesizing parameterized audio icons. It starts with impacts (impulses), extends them to represent breaking, bouncing, and spilling, and then describes general filter banks with an example application of representing machine sounds.

While we’re on the topic of sound libraries, two other techniques might be worth developing. The second reference below talks about the auditory illusion produced by Sheppard-Risset tones. These tones sound like they’re infinitely rising or falling even though all that’s happening is some partials are shifting around a base frequency. They might be very useful for representing an on going process, and they appear to be quite easy to synthesize.

The third reference talks about dichotic time compression and spatialization of speech. It presents a technique for compressing speech output in time by presenting overlapping samples of the signal to each ear. Supposedly this approach fairs better than the standard synchronized overlap-and-add (SOLA) approach of time compression. What’s interesting about this paper is that it gives a way of incorportating this technique into a spatial sound system, even though it relies on stereo presentation of the speech.

I think it would be awesome if someone could get any one of these working. I’m sure I could put them to use.

 author = {William W. Gaver},
 title = {Synthesizing auditory icons},
 booktitle = {Proceedings of the conference on Human factors in computing systems},
 year = {1993},
 isbn = {0-201-58884-6},
 pages = {228--235},
 location = {Amsterdam, The Netherlands},
 publisher = {Addison-Wesley Longman Publishing Co., Inc.},
 url = {http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=304652&coll=portal&dl=ACM&CFID=19572234&CFTOKEN=34184079#},

 author = {Michel Beaudouin-Lafon and St\'{e}phane Conversy},
 title = {Auditory illusions for audio feedback},
 booktitle = {Conference companion on Human factors in computing systems},
 year = {1996},
 isbn = {0-89791-832-0},
 pages = {299--300},
 location = {Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada},
 url = {http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/257089.257331},
 publisher = {ACM Press},

  author = {Barry Arons},
  title = {Efficient listening with two ears: Dichotic time compression and spatialization},
  booktitle = {International conference on auditory display},
  publisher = {ICAD},
  year = {1994},
  month = {11},
  address = {Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States}