Gordon McGladdery is a professional composer and sound designer living in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada.
He has his Bachelor of Arts in English literature from University of Victoria in Canada and an additional diploma in Sound Design for Visual Media from the Vancouver Film School.
Gordon first learned about ASMR in 2012 and immediately created his own research project.
He analyzed the speech patterns of several ASMR artists (GentleWhispering, VeniVidiVulpes, AppreciateASMR, and others) and compared them to the speech patterns of others (Bob Ross, Bill O’Reilly, Geraldo Rivera, and others).
He initially shared his findings with the ASMR community in an ASMR subreddit thread.
In my interview with Gordon he shares how he first learned about ASMR, the objectives of his study, his ideas about further analysis that could be done on ASMR-related audio, his favorite ASMR artist, and more.
Below are my questions in bold and his replies in italics.
Immediately following the interview is Gordon’s detailed description of how he did his analysis and his data findings.
The post concludes with a podcast Gordon created about his study, as well as, links to his initial ASMR subreddit post, to his spreadsheet of the speech pattern data, to his website, to his musical compositions, and more.
How did you first learn about ASMR?
Gordon, “As a current phenomenon, I received an email from Destin at Smarter Every Day basically saying “look at this creepy crap”. The video was a VeniVidiVulpes video, the one mentioned in my reddit post.
I was super creeped out at first, then whammo hit by ASMR. I have, however, experienced it my whole life.”
What triggers ASMR for you?
Gordon, “Usually I prefer non-verbal stuff & accidental ASMR. Videos of skilled craftsmen and women doing their thing without talking I find very soothing.
This is kind of asynchronous with my little study–another reason why I don’t think it is all about the audio but very context specific. For me there is very much a “someone else is working so I can relax” thing involved.”
Do you have a favorite ASMR artist or ASMR video?
Gordon, “I like Christen Noel a lot for intentional ASMR, Bob Ross was my guy before ASMR had a name, and my favourite accidental ASMR video is probably the Flow Hive Guy.”
What initiated/motivated you to do begin a project about ASMR?
Gordon, “I had a day to spare and couldn’t find any existing studies whatsoever so thought I’d take a soft crack at drumming up some very, very basic data.”
What were the general objectives and methods of the project?
Gordon, “I took a few examples of popular ASMR, what I considered to be regular speech, and what I considered to be aggravating speech. I then measured… I think… the time spent speaking vs. the time spent silent to come up with ratios.
I loaded audio into pro-tools and measured and recorded the lengths of each speaking waveform and each period of silence.”
[further details on his methods and results follow the interview]
As a professional sound engineer you probably think about ASMR differently than most others, do you have any other insight, perspectives, or research ideas related to ASMR?
Gordon, “Personally I don’t think it can be 100% quantified empirically. Like music, everyone has particular tastes, etc.
I would like to see more research that also takes into account dynamic range, signal to noise ratios and frequency content.”
What do you think the future holds for the understanding and application of ASMR?
Gordon, “I really have no idea. I could see it being used as a dangerously effective subliminal sales tactic, but it could also be interesting to see ASMR artists taking thir work into private settings for relaxation therapy of some kind.
One thing I love about ASMR is that binaural audio is becoming much more popularized. I can definitely see ASMR becoming popular among the growing virtual reality community as well.”
What other projects and plans are on your horizon?
Gordon, “Nothing directly ASMR related (not much money in it… yet!) but I am working on a pile of games for PC, console and virtual reality. Below are links to some of my musical compositions.”
Further details of Gordon’s study methods and data are below. The quote and information below is from his initial ASMR subreddit thread. A link to the ASMR subreddit thread, a link to his data spreadsheet, and copy of his podcast about his study are included at the end of this post.
Gordon, “Hi /r/ASMR. I am a sound designer and I did some research on ASMR speech. I found some pretty astounding stuff. I did a podcast on the results if you want to listen.
I just found out about ASMR a few days ago, though I’ve experienced it my whole life. I was really surprised by the lack of data on it of any kind, so I decided to do some of my own–I’m a sound designer, not a scientist, but I have audio tools and an OK grasp on the scientific method so I thought I’d take a crack at it.
Here is what I did: I took 5 samples of ASMR speech Bob Ross, VeniVidiVulpes, Nena61090, AppreciateASMR, and GentleWhispering.
I selected a random 2 minute chunk from the audio of each video and then analyzed the length of each phrase and each pause. For contrast I then did the same with Bill O’Reilly and Geraldo having hissy fits and for control I measured the cadence of Dan Ariely giving a speech on social economics.
The results were very surprising. You can check out the data here. Please note I am not a spreadsheet master by any means.
Notable results: ASMR Speakers have uncannily similar pause:speech ratios.
After I summed up the pauses, 3 of the 5 samples were pausing for 49% of the two minutes–the sum total of pauses for these three being within 0.7 seconds of one another (59.05-59.75 seconds). On average, ASMR speakers are pausing 48.28 percent of the time.
Bill O’Reilly and Geraldo Rivera fighting only pause 5% of the time, and Dan Ariely only pauses 16% of the time.
Also, the average length of pause for all 5 ASMR samples fell between 1.16 and 1.6 seconds. Billy O and Geraldo: 0.19 seconds. Dan Ariely: 0.42.
ASMR speakers use short phrases, once again the average length of each spoken phrase used by an ASMR speaker is strikingly similar. Of the 5 samples, the average phrase length varied from 1.24 seconds to 1.77 seconds, a difference of only half a second. The average phrase length of three of the samples were virtually identical. I realize a half second can be a big deal in some situations, but compared to Bill O’Reilly (4.7 seconds) the tight grouping is interesting.
These were the things that popped out most to me. I would love to do a frequency and amplitude based analysis as well, as I think the relationships between those two over time are very important, but due to the vastly different recording situations for each sample it simply wasn’t possible with my tools/skills.
Hope this helps any of those trying to become ASMR practitioners of some kind–I plan on using the data to add ASMR qualities to sounds I design. I’d love to hear what other, smarter people could do with my data or techniques.”
***Click below to listen to Gordon’s podcast about his data.
***Click HERE to read Gordon’s initial ASMR subreddit post about his data.
***Click HERE to access Gordon’s data.
***Click HERE (bandcamp.com) and HERE (soundcloud.com) to listen to music composed by Gordon.
***Click HERE to contact Gordon and visit his website.
***Click HERE to visit Gordon’s Linkedin page.
Scroll down to Print, Share, Reblog, Like, Jump to related posts, or Comment.
This post brought to you by ASMR University. A site with the mission of increasing the awareness, understanding, and research of the Art and Science of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.