is a brief, structured sound pattern
used to represent a specific item or event but is not to be confused with an Auditory Icon
. The term was coined in 1989
. The earcon
can be parameterized by specific attributes of the item or event. Although likely to be used in a computer/user interface, an example could also be a five-day weather forecast on a local news program where each day's temperatures set the pitches in a five tone sequence. Earcons are generally not auditory caricatures of the signified, that is, they are abstract rhythmic / melodic patterns rather than everyday sounds.
Earcons are generally synthazied sounds, while auditory icons are usually recorded from existing everyday occurances.