Shaping the Soundscape History

52  12  Download (0)

Full text


Shaping the Soundscape History

Master Thesis Musicology

Institution: UvA (Universiteit van Amsterdam/University of Amsterdam) Name: Massimo Raoul Beckers

Supervisor: Dr. Oliver Seibt

Second Reader: Prof. Dr. Julia Kursell Date: 01-08-2018


Table of Contents

1. Introduction p. 4

2. Methodology and Approach p. 4

3. Early soundscape research p. 5

3.1. Disputed beginnings p. 5

3.2. The inception of the soundscape p. 6

3.3. Pursuing new perceptions p. 7

3.4. Establishing the soundscape p. 9

4. Venturing into the field p.12

4.1. The World Soundscape Project p.12

4.2. The Vancouver Soundscape p.13

4.3. Five Villages Soundscape p.15

4.4. Difficulties found from within p.17

5. Completing the World Soundscape Journey p.18

5.1. Tuning of the World p.18

5.2. Epitomizing acoustic design p.23

5.3. Founder of fields p.24

5.4. Criticizing Schafer p.25

5.5. Handbook for Acoustic Ecology p.27

5.6. Foundations p.28

6. Acoustic Ecology: an emerging discipline p.28

7. Anatomy of the Soundscape p.31

8. Spreading the word p.36

8.1. Diversity within disciplines p.36

8.2. Soundscape Ecology p.36

8.3. Bioacoustics p.37

8.4. Sound Studies p.38

8.5. Urban Planning p.39


9. The 21st Century: On definitions of the soundscape p.41

10. What the future could bring p.44

11. Conclusion p.45

12. References p.47

12.1. Literary sources p.47


1. Introduction

The term ‘soundscape’ has been utilized in divergent ways by various disciplines throughout its history. Since the 1970s, due to the efforts of R. Murray Schafer and the World

Soundscape Project, the term became widely known amongst scholars in the field of

acoustics. Consequentially, the popularity of utilizing the term has since then grown to such extent that new disciplines commenced to emerge with their core focus on soundscape research. Utilized by many different scholars and academic disciplines, the usage of the term has become somewhat ambiguous. To the author’s knowledge, hitherto there has not been any written, recapitulated account of a vivid historical and interdisciplinary development of soundscape terminology nor of soundscape research. Hence, the goal of this thesis is to shed light on the equivocality of the term by establishing a historical and interdisciplinary account on the development of the usage of the term and by addressing the most pivotal aspects that have played a role in shaping it. The research question will be the following: how has the term ‘soundscape’ been utilized in academia throughout history and by different disciplines?

2. Methodology and Approach

The method utilized to answer the research question of this thesis could be described as a historical and interdisciplinary analysis of the term ‘soundscape’. The thesis will foremost be structured in a chronological manner, due to the historical analysis that will be conducted.

A difficulty I have stumbled upon is the vast amount of scholarly soundscape literature available. Hence, the amount of literature had to be narrowed down. Some of the most controversial, most ground-breaking and most referred to articles and books have achieved priority during this thesis, as well as articles regarding various newly-established or still emerging disciplines with a core focus on soundscape research that have made use of the term in new ways. Articles and books with a very specific and narrow focus, like the account of a field recording of an underwater soundscape (Helmreich, 2007) or that of a research concerning a city garden soundscape (Hedfors, 2004) have been referred to, but were not scrutinized in detail. While such articles have made me understand the many different usages of the term soundscape, they have arguably not contributed substantially to the overall, broader history of the term.

Furthermore, I have looked upon the utilized material critically. While respecting the immense contributions many scholars have brought to the table, contradictions between their argumentation seem to appear frequently. By scrutinizing and comparing their works, it has


come to the attention that some scholars might have partially argued erroneously in fabricating certain statements. It is important, when attempting to establish a truthful historical account, to tackle such possible errors and bring to light things that might have been overlooked by these academics.

Later on during this thesis, a short look into the future will be had, contemplating about aspects future research could provide in regards to soundscape terminology and soundscape research. In the end a conclusion will be provided, summarizing the thesis.

3. Early soundscape research 3.1 Disputed beginnings

Among scholars, there seems to be no consensus about the first usage of the term ‘soundscape’ in academic literature. While many academic authors assume that it was

initially composer and scholar R. Murray Schafer to have coined the term ‘soundscape’ in the late Sixties (Garner, 1983; Kelman, 2010; Akiyama, 2010), others argue that he was the first to directly define this prior existing term and a substantial contributor to its development (Krause, 2008; Helmreich, 2007), having established the term in the manner ‘‘... we use it today’’ (Brooks et al., 2014, p.31). Some academic authors speak of ‘Schafer’s concept’, referring specifically to his adaption of the term soundscape, distinct from those of other scholars (Sterne, 2012; Bijsterveld & Pinch, 2012). Interestingly enough, some authors speak of another scholar having been responsible for the introduction of the term soundscape into academia. The urban planner Michael Southworth is recognized in a number of these articles as the pioneer of the usage of the term in the late Sixties (Golan, 2009; Radicchi, 2017; Foale, 2014), while another article refers to Southworth’s text as solely ‘‘... one of the first uses of the term in the literature’’ (Pijanowski et al., 2011, p.203). Delving deeper into academic material published before the Sixties, scholars like Heikki Uimonen (2008) and Élise Geisler (2014) trace back the first usage of the term soundscape in academia to the year 1929 in an article by Finnish geographer Johannes Gabriel Granö (Uimonen, 2008, p.1). In attempting to establish the first usage of the term soundscape in the scholarly world, this thesis seems to have already come to a halt. There seems to be disagreement between scholars and while there has not been a direct debate on the initial usage of the term, it is pivotal to establish the first time the term soundscape was mentioned in academic literature if one is to construct a historical analysis on its development.


3.2 The inception of the soundscape

After scrutinizing the works by R. Murray Schafer, Michael Southworth and Johannes Gabriel Granö, one can conclude that the latter mentioned the term soundscape a number of decades before Southworth or Schafer. The question arises why Gräno’s work is not known more widely among those scholars who omitted him from their research. The unfamiliarity of his work by these academics can only partially be the result of their plausible lack of

knowledge of the Finnish language, as the original book was published in German (1929), after which the Finnish version followed in 1930. An English version of the article however, only came to be available in 1997. Presumably, the broader contemporary academic world has had insufficient knowledge of the Finnish and German language. It should also be considered that these two languages were probably out of reach for scholars like Southworth and Schafer, as neither they referred to Gräno’s book in their texts. Arguably, this is the reason Gräno’s work did not achieve wide recognition. Regardless, Gräno appears to be the first to mention the term soundscape.

Gräno is considered to be one of the earliest scholars to include the usage of various human senses in geographical research. To do so required him to establish ‘‘... a terminology for visual, auditory, olfactory and tactile phenomena sensed in the environment…’’

(Uimonen, 2008, p.14). One of the terms he introduced in regards to the auditory senses, ‘soundscape’ (Gräno, 1929, p.1), was never clearly defined during his article. What one can derive from scrutinizing his text however is that the term was connected to subjective human perception, as Gräno did not believe that the regions he studied should be reduced to mere measurable objects. He argued that subjective human perception should be included in geographical research as well. His work ‘‘... emphasized the role of a perceiving human being’’ (Uimonen, 2008, p.14) and he even suggested that human perception should form ‘‘... the core subject matter of geography’’ (Hunn & Johnson, 2010, p.29). Two more aspects in Gräno’s books are of importance for the development of the term soundscape and soundscape research. Firstly, Gräno’s multidisciplinary approach, as he was willing to work together with scholars from the field of sociology in order to form a discipline that he called ‘human ecology’. In many ways this discipline resembles the much later established ‘acoustic ecology’ (Uimonen, 2008, p.14), an important field in regards to the development of soundscape research which will be discussed in details further on during this paper. The second prominent aspect Gräno brings to the table is his distinction between the study of sounds and the study of noise. The distinction between both, in the context of human


perception, has become one of the most explored topics in academic literature concerning soundscape research (Turner et al., 2003, p.1) and will therefore be discussed frequently during this paper.

While Gräno is not mentioned concurrently in scholarly texts, neither in more recent academic articles and books, his work has pioneered soundscape research and therefore deserves recognition.

3.3 Pursuing new perceptions

R. Murray Schafer states that his use of the term soundscape originally hails from Michael Southworth’s work (Sterne, 2013, p.186). In contrast to Granö, Southworth utilized the term soundscape in a much more elaborated manner. But before scrutinizing his work, an

important remark should be made. A problem I have stumbled upon is the disagreement of scholars referring to the initial year Southworth published his The Sonic Environment of Cities, in which he firstly mentioned the term soundscape. One scholar refers to the year 1966 (Radicchi, 2017, p.12), while others mention the year 1969 as the year of publication

(Pijanowski et al., 2011; Golan, 2009). The original however, seems to have been published on May 19, 1967 as a thesis for Southworth’s master degree in the academic discipline of City Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Having settled the year of publication, it will become much easier to put his work into historical perspective, as Southworth’s thesis (1967) was published two years prior to a booklet by Schafer (1969) in which he mentions the term soundscape.

It is likely that Southworth’s usage of the word soundscape cannot be traced back to Gräno’s 1929 article. A more plausible reasoning is that Southworth was directly inspired by his tutor Kevin Lynch, a renowned urban planner. His tutor used to refer to ‘cityscape’ in relation to the various forms of impact that cities had on people. He distinguished various factors that were important to create such an impact, among others ‘‘... open space, vegetation, sense of motion on the paths, visual contrasts…’’ (Lynch, 1960, p.16).

Southworth attempted to search for a new aspect of the city, which had not yet been studied by his tutor. He started to look beyond the visual and turned to the audible aspects of the urban area (Sterne, 2015, p.70). He stated that his thesis would ‘‘... explore one aspect of this non-visual environment which seems particularly important: the sonic environment’’

(Southworth, 1967, p.1). By ‘‘[analysing] the perceptual form of the soundscape’’ (1967, p.1), Southworth was assured to discover new ways of understanding the city.


During his thesis, Southworth never directly defined the term soundscape. Instead, the goal of his thesis was to develop new techniques ‘‘... for analyzing the public soundscape’’

(Southworth, 1967, p.1). Southworth was interested in the way the urban soundscapes could alter the human perception of the city and how, what he called, ‘sonic design’ could

contribute to this. During his research, one of Southworth’s primary concerns was ‘‘... to determine how much one could tell about the city just by listening to it…’’ (Southworth, 1967, p.31). While he recognized the soundscape as an independent aspect of the city and therefore useful as an independent variable to analyse that specific urban environment, he considered the soundscape to be crucially related to the visual aspects of that city

(Southworth, 1967, pp.70-71). An objective analysis, according to Southworth, always required ‘‘... the relations of the sounds to the visible form and activity’’ (1967, p.3). He argued that the senses could never operate fully independent from one another. Hence, the audible could not be analysed independently to gain a full understanding of the city

(Southworth, 1967, pp.3-4). Therefore, we can discern that Southworth believed that visual and auditory perceptions were in alignment with one another:

Southworth evaluates the connection between visual and auditory perception in order to understand how much the spatial form or activity in an area affects the identity and appreciation of a particular soundscape, and vice versa, to what extent the sounds influence

the perception of the urban form (Radicchi, 2017, p.14).

An important concern Southworth addressed in his thesis was the unreliability of sounds, as they could easily change over time and due to various changing weather conditions (1967, p.31). Whenever sounds change, the soundscape will change accordingly (Southworth, 1967, p.34). At this point it is interesting to note that it appears that Southworth’s soundscape exists as an entity changing over time depending on various factors, but that the ambiguous mind of humans could change the perception of the soundscape likewise. Southworth’s view here is similar to Gräno’s (Uimonen, 2008, p.14). According to Southworth, humans also had the capability to change the soundscape directly in a physical way, as Southworth speaks of the progress of technology changing the future of soundscapes (1967, p.70). Human factors therefore play a role in its creation and modification. Southworth realized the increasing level of noise due to human activity and the importance of noise control in urban areas


research states that ‘‘... according to Southworth, it is necessary to address the problem of noise pollution caused by traffic…’’ (Radicchi, 2017, p.14). ‘Noise pollution’, a term that will be thoroughly scrutinized further on during this paper, is not mentioned in Southworth’s thesis however. Presumably, Radicchi refers to Schafer’s terminology of ‘noise pollution’, introduced in his The New Soundscape: A Handbook for the Modern Music Teacher (1969). In constructing a truthful account of the historical development of the term soundscape, underlying concepts connected to this term have to be ordered into the right time frame. It is therefore pivotal to comprehend that the term ‘noise pollution’ was not coined and neither directly mentioned by Southworth. Nonetheless, the issue of noise played a crucial role in his thesis, as he argued that without any ‘‘... design intervention’’, the future of the urban

soundscape would lose its audible character as it would turn less and less distinguishable from other soundscapes (Southworth, 1967, p.70). Southworth was interested in how such sonic intervention, or sonic design, could change the soundscape, especially in regards to the wellbeing of humans (1967, p.70). A method he devised to discover ways to improve the soundscape was a form of what would later be termed ‘soundwalk’ by Schafer (1977, p.208). A group of people would walk together and listen closely to the sonic environment that surrounded them, noting their observations of what was happening in the soundscape

(Southworth, 1967, pp.70-71). This would lead to a broader comprehension of the crucial role the soundscape played in humans’ perception of their surroundings, as well as providing useful information on how to modify the soundscape in accordance to human needs.

Southworth paves the way for the discipline of ‘acoustic design’, which gained prominence from the Seventies onwards due to the work of the World Soundscape Project. Later on during this thesis it will become clearer how important the factor of noise and its control have been in the development of the term soundscape.

Without disregarding the importance of Southworth’s ideas, Radicchi mentions that his work ‘‘... remained at the level of a master’s thesis…’’ and that ‘‘... the first systematic research that created the field of study known as ‘soundscape studies’ is attributed to the Canadian composer and theorist R. Murray Schafer’’ (Radicchi, 2017, p.15).

3.4 Establishing the soundscape

Since the Sixties, the Canadian scholar R. Murray Schafer has been a leading figure in the development of academic disciplines such as acoustic ecology, sound studies and soundscape ecology. One of his most notable books, The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the


Tuning of the World (1977), explored topics, concepts and ideas discovered during his time as leader of the World Soundscape Project, a research group at the Simon Fraser University that published its articles during the 1970s. The book formed the basis for many of these and future academic disciplines to come. As mentioned before, Schafer has often been hailed as the author coining the term ‘soundscape’ in academia. Such notions however have shown to be fallacious. Instead, Schafer as the first among his peers, defined the term soundscape in a direct manner. While Johannes Gabriel Gärno and Michael Southworth already mentioned the term before him, they never attempted to provide a direct definition for it. However, as research will point out, it took several years of research before Schafer came up with a suitable definition for the term soundscape. In the following part of this thesis, a number of his most notable booklets will be scrutinized. These formed the starting point for his more elaborative soundscape research during the mid- and later Seventies, which also led to a more direct definition for the term soundscape.

Schafer’s earlier research on soundscapes resulted in one article and two booklets: The Music of the Environment (1973), The New Soundscape: A Handbook for the Modern Music Teacher (1969) and The Book of Noise (1970). Regarding the first of the booklets, Schafer states that:

One of the purposes of this booklet is to direct the ear of the listener towards the new soundscape of contemporary life, to acquaint him with a vocabulary of sounds he may expect

to hear both inside and outside concert halls. It may be that he will not like all the tunes of this new music, and that too will be good. For together with other forms of pollution, the sound sewage of our contemporary environment is unprecedented in human history (Schafer,

1969, p.3).

This seems to be the first time Schafer uses the term soundscape in his academic writing. Arguably due to his background as a composer, the foundation of a lot of his early work lies in the initial question of the definition of music. During the Fifties and Sixties the

conventions of traditional Western music seemed to vanish. Contemporary pieces often lacked a sense of pitch, a steady rhythm and harmonic structure (Akiyama, 2010, p.54). Schafer notes that composers such as John Cage have created works that questioned the very essence of what music meant (Schafer, 1969, p.1). ‘‘Music is sounds, sounds around us whether we’re in or out of concert halls’’, Cage answers Schafer when the latter asks him to define the term music (Schafer, 1969, p.1). Schafer himself perceives the sounds of the world


as part of one big composition (1977, p.5). In this booklet a number of terms, used in the research and analysis of soundscapes, make an appearance. ‘Sound events’, ‘sound objects’ and ‘schizophonia’ are mentioned. All three terms are closely related to the term soundscape as they give this term its initial ‘shape’.

The first term Schafer utilizes is ‘sound object’, originally coined by composer, musicologist and acoustical engineer Pierre Schaeffer (1977, p.137). Schafer states that the sound object is a smaller component within a sound event. A sound object can be ‘‘each of the things you hear…’’ (1969, p.51) and exist in itself as an entity. Schafer adds to this that every sound object is completely unique, as it is conceived, lives its life and then in the end dies; something he calls ‘‘... the biological life of the sound object’’ (Schafer, 1969, p.49). Many sound objects occur at the same time and this intermingling of sound objects is what Schafer calls ‘‘... the social life of the sound object’’ (Schafer, 1969, p.49).

The second term, ‘sound event’, refers to a sound as it is perceived by humans and it is therefore much more ambiguous in nature than the sound object. Schafer also states ‘‘from sound events are soundscapes built’’ (Schafer, 1969, p.51). One particular interesting form of sound event Schafer points out is that of a sound event to be perceived as silent by humans, but that is active physically, presumably in a frequency or volume level not perceivable by the human ear. Only when such events ‘‘... flash into the foreground we call them noise’’ (Schafer, 1969, p.11). More specifically, Schafer states that noise is ‘‘... any undesired sound signal’’ (Schafer, 1969, p.18). During his academic career, Schafer has written many articles and books about or partly about the nuisance of noise in urban and rural areas, as well as the effect of noise on living creatures, especially humans. While elaborating on noise and ‘noise pollution’ much more in-depth in later work, Schafer already creates a foundation for his future research in this booklet. He argues that noises are sounds humans have learned to ignore (Schafer, 1969, p.11).

The third term Schafer coins is ‘schizophonia’. He defines the term as ‘‘... the cutting free of sound from its natural origins’’ (Schafer, 1969, p.46). An example of this can be the telephone, which has cut off the human sound from the actual human source and. Instead, it transfers the sound through the phone connection. Schafer argues that schizophonia has had ‘‘... profound effects on our lives’’ (Schafer, 1969, p.43).

In the subsequent decade, Schafer wrote about the terms ‘sound object’, ‘sound event’ and ‘schizophonia’ in a much more elaborated and precise manner. However, at this early stage of his academic career, Schafer had already started to shape a clear vision of terms and concepts that would become useful in upcoming soundscape research. Clearly in his 1969


and 1970 booklets his version of the term soundscape was still in its infancy stage, as a clear definition for the term was not yet directly provided.

In The Book of Noise (1970), Schafer elaborated more in-depth on the matters of what he called ‘noise’ and ‘noise pollution’, which he argued to be the most substantial factors for changing and destroying the soundscape (Schafer, 1970, p.1). With this booklet, Schafer attempted ‘‘... to point out some of the dangers of noise pollution and to suggest ways we can help to reduce it’’ (Schafer, 1970, p.3). Similar to Southworth, Schafer was basically paving the way for what would later be called ‘acoustic design’. Already touched upon in his earlier writing (1969), Schafer defines the term ‘noise’ in a much clearer way in this particular booklet. He states that ‘‘noise is unwanted sound. It is accordingly

distinguished from signals, which are wanted sounds’’ (Schafer, 1970, p.4). Interesting to note here is Schafer’s usage of the word ‘signal’, as this term will become more prominent during his later writing (1973) regarding the different aspects that make a soundscape unique. Schafer is also very aware of the ambiguous perception of sounds. Therefore, he argues noise to be subjective: ‘‘the same sound heard in different settings may be either wanted or

unwanted, signal noise’’ (Schafer 1970, p.4).

In The Music of the Environment (1973), Schafer introduced the idea of an ‘acoustic design’ for the first time. This field would blend ‘‘... discipline and artistic imagination’’ (Schafer, 1973 p.30) in order to change entire soundscapes or even create them from scratch. Such a discipline would be able to tackle the growth of the earlier discussed noise pollution.

4. Venturing into the field

4.1 The World Soundscape Project

Alongside his personal research, Schafer founded the World Soundscape Project (also known as WSP), a research group based in Vancouver (Canada) that cooperated from the late Sixties until the second half of the Seventies. The goal of the World Soundscape Project was ‘‘... to find solutions for an ecologically balanced soundscape where the relationship between the human community and its sonic environment is in harmony’’ (Westerkamp, Woog, Kallman & Truax, 2006, n.p.) The core of the WSP consisted of a number of students and composers: Bruce Davis, Barry Truax, Howard Broomfield, Hildegard Westerkamp, Peter Huse, Colin Miles and R. Murray Schafer himself.

Deriving from the research of this group, a number of influential papers, articles and books emerged that contributed to the history of the use of the term soundscape. Some of its members continued their work after the research of the WSP had ceded and became leading


scholars of their own in various emerging disciplines. Next to a number of articles on

performed researches, two books were published that would change the understanding of the term soundscape forever: The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World, originally published as ‘just’ The Tuning of the World (Schafer, 1977) and The World Soundscape Project's Handbook for Acoustic Ecology (Truax, 1978).

Part of the World Soundscape Project team venturing into the field. From left to right: R. Murray Schafer, Bruce Davis, Peter Huse, Barry Truax & Howard Broomfield (Truax, 1973).

4.2 The Vancouver Soundscape

The first research performed by the World Soundscape Project consisted of field recordings of the soundscape of Vancouver, Canada. In their research account, named The Vancouver Soundscape, the question is being raised: what precisely is a soundscape (Schafer, 1973, p.28)? The closest to an answer the research team derives at is when they argue to ‘‘... employ this term to mean the sonic environment’’ (Schafer, 1973, p.28). By arguing so, the WSP team is not so much defining the term as seemingly comparing it to another term. We have encountered the term ‘sonic environment’ earlier on during this paper in the form of Michael Southworth’s thesis The Sonic Environment of Cities (1967) and this is not the first time the term has occurred in academia, as Southworth refers to the 1965 publication The Sonic Environment and Its Effects on Man (Barnett & Erickson). Analysing the history of the


term ‘sonic environment’ is not the purpose of this paper, but it is useful to know that the WSP team did not clearly define the term soundscape in their own words in this written account. Instead, they refer to a similar term. The term ‘sonic environment’ is referred to more often during later WSP texts as well. They argue that such a soundscape, or sonic environment, can be isolated as a separate field of study (Schafer, 1973, p.28). Stressing the difficulty of representing or formulating the soundscape due to its rapidly changing nature, the team comes to the conclusion that for such an endeavour ‘‘... thousands of recordings would have to be made; tens of thousands of measurements would have to be taken; and a new notion would have to be devised’’ (Schafer, 1973, p.28). In order to make fruitful research possible, without having to spend years of one’s life just to analyse one specific soundscape, the researcher must narrow down his or her field of research by focussing on discovering ‘‘... the significant features of the soundscape…’’ (Schafer, 1973, p.28). These features are significant due to a number of aspects: first of all, such a feature can be deemed important in the soundscape due to its individual character. Such a feature stands out

immediately when picked up by the human ear. Just like certain ‘landmarks’ in a landscape, this particular sound stands out in the soundscape (Schafer, 1973, p.37). Therefore, the research team has given this feature the name ‘soundmark’ (Schafer, 1973, p.28). The second feature can already be encountered in Schafer’s The New Soundscape: A Handbook for the Modern Music Teacher (1969) and is called the ‘sound signal’. It is referred to as a

dominating feature in the soundscape. These sounds literally ‘signal’ one’s senses. An example of such a sound signal could be the horn of a car or a police siren (Schafer, 1973, p.31). The last feature is the ‘keynote’, analogous to the term keynote used in music, which refers to the ‘tonic’ of a specific piece of music and therefore crucial in deciding the tonality of the piece (Wrightson, 2000, p.10). Similarly, the keynote Schafer speaks about also decides the ‘tonality’ of the soundscape. It refers to a sound that has become such an integral part of the soundscape, that it is mainly perceived as a sort of background sound. However, if this sound would vanish, the whole soundscape would be heard in a different way: keynotes ‘‘are overhead but cannot be overlooked’’ and are therefore a crucial component of a soundscape (Schafer, 1973, p.29).

The WSP distinguishes between two forms of soundscapes: ‘hi-fi’ soundscapes and ‘lo-fi’ soundscapes. The terms hi-fi and lo-fi, important in later work by Schafer, are

mentioned firstly in The Vancouver Soundscape (1973). A hi-fi soundscape is characterized by its low ambient noise level (Schafer, 1973, p.48), as well as the substantial amount of information it conveys to the ear in order for the listener to comprehend what is going on in


that particular habitat. Very discrete sounds can be picked-up relatively easy. In general, a place like the countryside is argued to be a hi-fi soundscape, at least the countryside near Vancouver during the early Seventies. City soundscapes are more often of a lo-fi character, in which ‘‘... individual acoustic signals are obscured in an overdense population of sounds’’ (Schafer, 1973, p.48). In order to still be heard, these distinct sounds need to be amplified to a higher volume level. This however raises the ambient noise level, increasing the lo-fi

character of the soundscape.

One term that has already been discussed during an earlier stage of this thesis is ‘schizophonia’. The term is once again used in The Vancouver Soundscape (1973), in which the splitting of sounds from the natural source is discussed in a more throughout manner than in Schafer’s 1969 booklet. The research team argues that new means of schizophonia have been introduced; new ways of extending acoustic signals over a larger area to a larger number of people have become popularized, of which telephone and radio are noted as two prime examples (Schafer, 1973, p.41). The team is aware of the negative aspects the development of schizophonia can have on the soundscape. They state that similar to ‘‘... the related word 'schizophrenia', we want schizophonia to have a nervous ring, for while the benefits such developments bestow are well enough known, we do not want to forget that they are contributing to the overpopulation of the soundscape’’ (Schafer, 1973, p.41).

While research up to this point has not provided the academic world with a concrete definition of the term soundscape, it is important to grasp an understanding of the overall terminology that has been developed to aid soundscape research. Terms like ‘schizophonia’, ‘hi-fi’ and ‘lo-fi’, ‘soundmark’, ‘sound signal’ and ‘keynote’ have become pivotal in shaping the understanding of the soundscape and in the development of the soundscape as a term.

4.3 Five Villages Soundscape

In 1977, the World Soundscape Project ventured out to study five different soundscapes in Northern-Europe. The aim was to record and investigate the soundscapes of five different villages in five different countries and compare them with the data obtained from the aforementioned recording and analysis of the Vancouver soundscape (1973). In the

introduction of their field study account, entitled Five Village Soundscapes (1977), the team states that their research is ‘‘... open to criticism on grounds of accuracy and methodology’’ (Schafer, p.219), due to various aspects of which the team had insufficient knowledge. These included their minimal knowledge of local languages and dialects of the people who were


interviewed in these villages, as well as the limited amount of equipment the team was able to transport overseas in order to ‘‘... measure [their] findings objectively’’ (Schafer, 1977, p.219). At this stage the research team was fully aware of the development that soundscape research would have to undergo. While aware of possible shortcomings in their research, they believed that their field work would lead to ‘‘... improvements in research techniques and methodology…’’, which would finally lead to soundscape studies becoming a reliable discipline (Schafer, 1977, p.219).

The term soundscape itself is referred to a number of times in the introduction of the 1977 account. However, the term is never clearly defined. Other terms closely linked to the soundscape however are disused more elaborately. The team refers back to the term ‘sound signal’, introduced in Schafer’s The New Soundscape: A Handbook for the Modern Music Teacher (1969). The term is more clearly defined in The Vancouver Soundscape (1973) as the ‘‘... dominating feature in the soundscape’’ (Schafer, 1973, p.31). In Five Village

Soundscapes (1977) the team elaborates on the possible forms of sound signals. In the case of the village soundscapes, the ‘‘... community sound signals…’’ seem to be most present and are argued to ‘‘... deliver recognized messages, such as shift whistles and church bells’’ (Schafer, 1977, p.284). In the Italian village of Cembra however, it is the human voice that is most characteristic and intruding in its soundscape (Schafer, 1977, p.300). Because Cembra’s high degree of social activities is very much present as sound signal in the soundscape, the team coins this particular soundscape as a ‘‘... human soundscape’’ (Schafer, 1977, p.240). In contrast to Cembra, the Scottish town of Dollar shows much less social activity and a higher amount of traffic sounds. Dollar’s new dominant sound seems to be that of the A91 highway. However, it has become so integral to its soundscape, that its sound started to become

overlooked. The highway sound is stated to have become the town’s ‘‘... contemporary and more ambivalently appreciated keynote of the community soundscape’’ (Schafer, 1977, p.274). Before the highway sounds became prominent in Dollar’s soundscape, the area had known soundmarks and sound events unique to its village character. Now however, it has undergone a transition and these unique soundmarks and sound events also seem to have disappeared (Schafer, 1977, p.285). We notice that the earlier mentioned terms ‘keynote’ and ‘soundmark’, hailing from the WSP’s The Vancouver Soundscape (1973), and the term ‘sound event’ from Schafer’s The New Soundscape: A Handbook for the Modern Music Teacher (1969) return in this text. The research team argues that


the rate of growth of the soundscape from one to the other is in the direction of the domination of heavy, technological sounds at the expense of the numerous small sounds that

characterize a balanced social soundscape on a human scale (Schafer, 1977, p.262). Their research suggests that an increase in technological sounds will result in a decrease of perceptive social and human sounds, as these will be put to the background of the

soundscape. The increase of technological sounds will also increase the ambient noise level, which on its turn decreases the soundscape’s earlier mentioned hi-fi characteristics. This would mean that the soundscape would start to turn lo-fi (Schafer, 1977, p.262). As the reader probably noticed by now, the terms hi-fi and lo-fi (or high- and low frequency), discussed in the earlier research account The Vancouver Soundscape (1973), have made an appearance in this research account as well. The relevance of including the distinction between human and technological forms of soundscapes and the closely related distinction between lo-fi and hi-fi soundscapes will become clearer later on during this thesis, especially during the scrutinization of academic texts by the influential field recorder and soundscape scholar Bernie Krause. For now it is important to remember that there are two aspects mentioned in The Vancouver Soundscape (1973) that have the power to dominate a soundscape: human interaction and technology, the latter one arguably being a human creation in its very essence.

The research of the WSP also touches upon ‘acoustic design’ (Schafer, 1977, pp.316-317), which had already been addressed in The Music of the Environment (1973). Acoustic design concerns itself with ‘‘... techniques for the analysis and improvement of existing soundscapes and the creation of new ones’’ (Schafer, 1977, p.322). According to the team, acoustic design needs to become wide-spread throughout the many disciplines related to sound. Therefore ‘‘... professional people in government, law, medicine, planning,

architecture and engineering need to be made aware of acoustic problems such that they can individually and collectively exert a positive influence’’ (Schafer, 1977, p.323). The idea of sound design will achieve more prominence during Schafers’ The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World (1977).

4.4 Difficulties found from within

The researches of the World Soundscape Project that have been scrutinized have formed the ‘breeding ground’ for new ideas. As stated before, the team was ‘‘... open to criticism on


grounds of accuracy and methodology’’ (Schafer, 1977, p.219), as they were aware of their limitations as pioneers in the field, due to their limited knowledge of particular aspects before attempting their actual field work. During their research, the World Soundscape Project was still looking for ways to tackle soundscape research and to come up with new ways to understand concepts and construct clear definitions for the terminology they utilized. Searching for answers, they coined terms like ‘soundmark’, ‘keynote’ and utilized and expanded upon terms like ‘sound signal’, ‘sound event’ and ‘schizophonia’, terms that had already been coined by Schafer before his founding of the World Soundscape Project. All these terms led to develop ideas on how the term soundscape could and should be understood.

The World Soundscape Project kept their research mainly based in Canada and Europe. Arguably, research in different places of the world could result in different research outcomes.

5. Completing the World Soundscape Journey 5.1Tuning of the World

Schafer’s work with the World Soundscape Project led to fruitful and innovative ideas for researching, keeping intact and designing the soundscape. In The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World (1977), Schafer’s most referenced text in

academia, he concludes and arranges the outcomes of the WSP researches, while borrowing from his earlier booklets The New Soundscape: A Handbook for the Modern Music Teacher (1969) and The Book of Noise (1970), adding additional information and providing new insights that might guide future research on soundscapes (Schafer, 1977, p.xi).

The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World (1977) is Schafer’s first publication in which he endeavours to define the term soundscape in a much more direct manner than ever before in any of his texts. Schafer considers the world to be one big, macrocosmic musical composition and the soundscape can be ‘‘... any acoustic field of study’’ that is part of this huge musical composition (Schafer, 1977, p.7). His view seems to be influenced by the development of the definition of music, due to, at the time, radical compositions by composers like John Cage, who Schafer mentions in his book as having had a considerable influence on his own thinking about music and sound (Schafer, 1977, p.5).

Schafer stresses the ambiguity of the perception of a soundscape as he states to ‘‘... not wish to forget that the ear is but one sense receptor among many’’ (1997, p.12), directing the outcome of soundscape research into subjectivity. He is very aware of the limitations of the research he has done over the years. As a researcher in the field, it is very easy to


interrupt the habitat around you due to your own presence and that of your recording equipment (Schafer, 1977, p.210). Another limitation is the limited knowledge of an

unknown soundscape. When recording a soundscape the researcher is not thoroughly familiar with, it can be hard to distinguish sound signals, soundmarks and keynotes. Furthermore, due to the limited time spent researching such a soundscape, certain sounds might come to the foreground (Schafer, 1977, p.212). Such sounds might otherwise be much more on the background or not present at all: it depends a lot on the specific time the researcher is in the field, as soundscapes can change quickly. It seems that one can therefore only make a ‘snapshot’ of that specific time one is present in the habitat.

According to Schafer, to analyse the soundscape one must distinguish certain sounds that have achieved a certain audible prominence in a particular habitat. This can be either through the dominating loudness of a sound, its individual character that stands out from the ‘background’ or because of the sheer amount of aspects that make up that noise; its

numerousness (Schafer, 1977, p.9). This is where terms, earlier noted by the World Soundscape Project and Schafer’s booklets, make an appearance.

Some prominent terms that reappear in Schafer’s book are ‘sound signal’ ‘soundmark’, ‘keynote’, ‘hi-fi’, ‘lo-fi’ and ‘schizophonia’. The last four have been elaborated upon substantially during this book. In The Vancouver Soundscape (1973), the keynote has been argued to refer to a sound that has become part of a specific soundscape in such manner that it is almost neglected in conscious hearing; it has become a background sound (Schafer, 1973, p.29). In his 1977 text however, Schafer constructs a much more direct definition for the term. He states he has ‘‘... defined keynote as a regular sound underpinning other more fugitive or novel sound events’’ (Schafer, 1977, p.48). He also elaborates on the keynote by stating that while it might not be consciously perceived, the omnipresence of the keynote sounds might have a ‘‘deep and pervasive influence on our behavior and moods’’ (Schafer, 1977, p.9). He even goes as far as arguing that the keynote sounds of a specific area can help to explain the human character of those living within it and in a broader sense the way a society has been evolving (Schafer, 1977, pp.7 & 9). Another interesting aspects Schafer adds to the concept of the keynote is the influence geography and climate have on defining these keynotes (1977, pp.9-20). Later on, Bernie Krause’s work will refer to very similar influences geography and climate can have on the soundscape of a specific area.

Already mentioned and explained in The Vancouver Soundscape (1973) the terms ‘hi-fi’ and ‘lo-fi’ are scrutinized in a more comprehensive manner in The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World (1977). According to Schafer, initially all


soundscapes were of a hi-fi character. Therefore, sounds in a habitat would not overlap each other frequently (Schafer, 1977, p.43). Only during the Industrial Revolution soundscapes turned lo-fi, due to the loss of the sounds of nature under the pressure of the sounds of industrial, domestic and mechanized machinery resulting from mass-urbanization (Schafer 1977, p.84). Only during the night, the city soundscape would once again win back part of its hi-fi characteristics (Schafer 1977, p.61). With the invention and growth of the usage of automobiles and airplanes, the sound of lower frequencies have become more prominent in contemporary soundscapes, leading to an increase in hearing loss in humans that are affected by it on a daily basis (Schafer, 1977, pp.83-87). The Electronic Revolution, succeeding the Industrial Revolution, extended the lo-fi aspects of the city soundscape due to the congestion of the many different sounds that became audible concurrently, overlapping each other’s frequencies (Schafer, 1977, pp.43 & 71).

The technological advancements in communication during the Electric Revolution led to, what Schafer calls, ‘schizophonia’ (1977, p.90). Schafer defines this phenomena as the ‘‘... splitting of sounds from their original contexts…’’, ‘robbing’ many sounds from its origins (1977, p.88). He provides examples of this schizophonia through the phone, radio and phonograph: ‘‘... sound was no longer tied to its original point in space; with the phonograph it was released from its original point in time’’ (Schafer, 1977, p.89) and the telephone extended the distance of the ‘transportation’ of the audible. After reading Schafer’s book, it becomes clear that he motivates protest against the way the modernization of technology changes the soundscape surrounding him. As already stated earlier in this paper, Schafer purposely ‘‘...coined the term schizophonia (...) intending it to be a nervous word. Related to schizophrenia, I wanted it to convey the same sense of aberration and drama’’ (1977, p.91).

Another way schizophonia has emerged is through the increase of noise. In this book Schafer argues that noise is ‘‘... unwanted sound’’ (1977, p.183). This means Schafer

believes noise is a subjective term, as he states that ‘‘one man’s music may be another man’s noise’’ (1977, p.183). What he does stress however is that there must be a consensus among people living in a given society as to which of the sounds represent noise. A more general example he provides is by stating that technological sounds are often seen as noise by highly technologically advanced countries. In less technologically advanced countries on the other hand, technological sounds may be appreciated (Schafer, 1977, p.147). While he does refer back to one of the studies done by the World Soundscape Project in which they investigate the way different people thought about different sounds (Schafer, 1997, p.147), Schafer does


not support his argument with much backing and his statements seem a bit underdeveloped in convincing context.

Schafer was one of the first scholars to stress noise as a danger to humanity, as it had been proven to generate hearing loss. Schafer therefore emphasized the importance of

modifying certain soundscapes in order to prevent the continuation of the existence of such harmful sounds (1977, p.183). While Granö and Southworth already initiated the idea of modifying soundscapes, Schafer aimed much higher. His wish was to spread knowledge about soundscapes and noise pollution through educational reforms and to make people aware of the benefits of listening and the possibility of improving the sonic environment. On the long term, the creation of the aforementioned discipline of ‘acoustic design’ would lead to the removal of sounds responsible of hurting the human ear and to an improvement of the soundscape (Schafer, 1977, p.205). According to Schafer, a discipline of acoustic design must include four different principals (1977, p.271). Firstly, the soundscape designer can restrict or even altogether eliminate specific sounds. One way of doing this, Schafer stresses, is through noise abatement, often executed through laws. Secondly, the designer is able to test particular sounds that have been designed to be released into an environment. Thirdly, the preservation of specific sounds is an important task of the acoustic designer. Schafer stresses especially ‘soundmarks’, the unique aspect of a specific soundscape, to be endangered in contemporary soundscapes. Sound designers could ‘save’ these soundmarks from harm or distinction. And at last, designers should contemplate about new sounds that could contribute aurally in an attractive manner to the surrounding environment. Schafer stated that through acoustic design ‘‘... destructive sounds will become conspicuous enough and we will know why we must eliminate them’’ (1977, p.205). He suggests that the best candidates for

executing acoustic design would be composers. After all, they have had vast experience in the creation, as well as in the modification of sounds, to the extent of evoking emotional

reactions in their audience (Schafer, 1977, p.206). However, what composers often lack is knowledge on a number of other subjects that are important for acoustic design. As the ‘‘... true acoustic designer must thoroughly understand the environment he is tacking’’ (Schafer, 1977, p.206), knowledge must be gathered from fields like acoustics, psychology, sociology, biology and more, depending on the specific situation. Hence, he deemed it crucial that experts hailing from these fields would collaborate. The joint effort of these experts and composers would ‘‘… [establish] the data base required for acoustic design’’ (Laske, 1978, p.396).


The establishment of such a data base could lead to the forming of new specialized schools focused on training their pupils in the many different aspects of importance for the acoustic design expert. Subjects like ‘ear cleaning’ and methods like ‘soundwalking’ would have to become pivotal in the training process of such schools (Schafer, 1977, pp.208 & 213). The soundwalk, according to Schafer, is an exploration of a soundscape conducted in an urban area, using specific pre-established guidelines organized in a score to ‘‘... [draw] the listener’s attention to unusual sounds and ambiences to be heard along the way’’ (1977, p.213). In combination with the soundwalk, Schafer suggest possible ear training exercises (Schafer, 1977, p.213). Such soundwalks would be an apt method for introducing schools to what Schafer calls ‘ear cleaning’; the careful listening to sounds and their relationships to one another (Schafer, 1977, p.272). These schools and subjects could spark generations of well-trained acoustic designers.

One approach to change a soundscape for the better is that of the method of

‘masking’. Masking was already swiftly mentioned in The New Soundscape: A Handbook for the Modern Music Teacher (1969), but never explained, let alone defined. In The

Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World (1977), masking is said to be a method that ‘‘... covers one sound by another…’’ (Schafer, p.151). Architects just as acoustical engineers have often ‘conspired’, as Schafer argues, to ‘‘... make modern buildings noisier’’ (Schafer, 1975, p.223). Schafer claims that ‘moozak’ (also known as ‘muzak’), a form of background music, has been one particularly interesting way of masking. Masking has been used frequently in the construction of modern architecture in order to tackle

unwanted, unpleasant sounds or noises. Moozak is used to cover, or ‘mask’, these sounds like a calming ‘acoustic perfume’ (Schafer, 1975, p.223). Another example of masking can be the construction of a loud fountain in a park drowning out the sounds of a highway running parallel. This method however does not fulfil the main goal of making the soundscape less noisy. Instead, one sound is being masked by another one. This only adds to the amount of noises in a soundscape and turns it even more lo-fi. Therefore, this form of design is not well suited to get rid of noise pollution and hearing loss. Schafer even stresses the danger of such masking techniques and acoustic design as a whole, as this discipline would be put in power, deciding which sounds we will be hearing in the future and which we will not. Acoustic design, according to Schafer, should therefore ‘‘... never become design control from above’’ (1977, p.206).

Schafer provides a number of specific examples of tasks for the upcoming acoustic designers. One of these is the sonic signal that occurs in many traffic crosswalks for pedestrians. Some


of these signals came in the form of a ‘‘… hideous buzz, yet neither loud enough nor of sufficiently high frequency to clear the traffic noise…’’ (Schafer, 1977, p.240), while other forms included a number of beeps, a semitone apart. These beeps would, according to Schafer, ‘‘… go out of phase, the one lagging slightly behind the other, in a manner that defied ineptitude’’ (1977, p.241). The point Schafer tries to make is that such sound signals could be vastly improved in order to become socially, as well as aesthetically pleasing. Another example Schafer provides is the sound signal that occurs in many cars when seatbelts are not fastened while driving. Often there is no way to turn such a sound off. Schafer wonders: ‘‘why must an acoustic attention-getter always be abominable?’’ (1977, p.241). On the other hand, in contrast to Schafer, one could argue that such a sound signal sounds abominable simply for the reason to get the attention of the driver and to make him or her fasten the seatbelt as soon as possible. Arguably, in this case safety plays a more

important role than aesthetics or social pleasing. 5.2 Epitomizing acoustic design

One particularly interesting way in which acoustic design has been utilized is through music. Brian Eno, arguably unfamiliar with the term acoustic design, pinpointed a new form of music with a strong connection to its environment. Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports (1978) would directly influence the soundscape of a very specific environment; the airport. Eno had recently visited the newly constructed Cologne-Bonn Airport in Germany (Rötter, 2017, pp.224-225). The music being played there annoyed him fiercely, as these Top 40 hits did not match the new and innovative design of the building. Eno decided to design music for the sole purpose of being played at airports. The music had to be low in intensity, so that visitors of the airport would not stress out. At the same time, the music had to be cut-off whenever an important message had to be spread throughout the amplification system of the airport. Hence, the music would not include any major contrast structure wise. At the same time however, the music had to be interesting for those that wished to listen to it more deeply; the small details would make all the difference. In the liner notes of the album, he stated that the music ‘‘…must be as ignorable as it is interesting’’ (liner notes on Music for Airports!!!).

Eno had toyed with the idea of a form of background music in order to enhance people’s experience in that environment. Utilizing the new technological advancements in computing, he was able to edit sonic environments or design them from scratch (Mazierska, 2018, n.p.). He had come to call this form of music ‘ambient music’, a music that would


recreate a ‘‘… place, a feeling an all-around tint to my sonic environment’’ (Mazierska, 2018, n.p.).

Closely related to this ambient genre was another form of background music called ‘muzak’. The term originated from the company Muzak Inc. which produced renowned songs in a softer, more relaxed setting, in order to give the people in the environment a feeling of calm. R. Murray Schafer mentioned the term muzak as well, even though he names it ‘moozak’ in his book (1977). He calls this form of music ‘‘… schizophonic musical drool, especially in public places’’ (1977, p.272). Not at all a fan of this form of music, Schafer believed moozak to be a form of masking, frequently used in architecture in order to tackle undesirable sounds and to form a so-called ‘acoustic perfume’ to mask these (1977, p.98). He stated that ‘‘moozak reduces music to ground. It is a deliberate concession to lo-fi-ism. It multiplies sounds. It reduces a sacred art to a slobber. Moozak is music that is not to be listened to’’ (Schafer, 1977, p.98). The differences between ambient music and muzak (or moozak) are substantial. The latter is often used to mask annoying sounds or noise, while the first attempts to enhance people’s experience in a soundscape while attempting not to disturb them in any way possible.

5.3 Founder of fields

Schafer as an educator has had a profound influence on music education. A list of educational books by Schafer include The Composer in the Classroom (1965), Ear cleaning: Notes for an experimental music course (1967), the aforementioned The New Soundscape: A Handbook for the Modern Music Teacher (1969), Creative Music Education: A Handbook for the Modern Music Teacher (1976), The Thinking Ear: On Music Education (1986) A Sound Education: 100 Exercises in Listening and Soundmaking (1992), and A Little Sound

Education (1996). Many of these focus on exercises to achieve a better perceiving ear, often in regards to the creation of the discipline of acoustic design.

Acoustic design however is but one of the disciplines Schafer elaborates upon in his book. During the 70s, many academic disciplines have started to adopt the term soundscape into their curricula (Schafer, 1977, p.146). Some of these fields include ‘‘... acoustics, psychoacoustics, ontology, international noise abatement practices and procedures,

communications and sound recording engineering (electroacoustics and electronic music), aural pattern perception and the structural analysis of language and music’’ (1977, pp.3-4). What still remains to be done, according to Schafer, is to establish a unification of two


divergent categories of disciplines: those focused on the scientific aspects of sounds and those concerned with the artistic approach to sound (Schafer, 1977, p.4).

Schafer believes that this would ultimately lead to two new disciplines; ‘acoustic ecology’ and the aforementioned ‘acoustic design’ (1977, p.205). Schafer’s hopeful

predictions have been answered to quite an extent, as ‘acoustic ecology’ has indeed become an emerging field in academia. The idea was already toyed with by Schafer during some of his research with the World Soundscape Project (1973). In his The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World (1977), he states that acoustic ecology is ‘‘... the study of sounds in relationship to life and society’’ (Schafer, p.205). Acoustic ecology as a field has known a lot of development during the 1990s and 00s. Later on during this thesis, the field and its development will be thoroughly discussed.

While Schafer is still writing, his earlier works from the Sixties and Seventies remain to be some of the most referred to works in soundscape academia of today. Schafer himself is still often invited to conferences concerning soundscape research and acoustic design and the first conference of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology in 1993 was called after his book: The Tuning of the World.

5.4 Criticizing Schafer

At this point I deem it valuable to reflect on Schafer’s The Soundscape: Our Sonic

Environment and the Tuning of the World (1977) in a more critical manner. While Schafer definitely can be mentioned as one of the most pivotal ‘players’ in the academic research on soundscapes, the tone of his book tends to be rather un-academic at times. An example of this can be noticed in the many metaphors, myths and anecdotes he refers to. While referring to such can be fruitful if it helps to explain certain terms or concepts in a more comprehensive manner, I have found some of these references to be rather futile for doing so. It looks as if Schafer adds these merely for the sake of constructing a more poetical sounding text. An example can be found on page 89. While Schafer explains human’s long-lasting dream of the invention of the telephone and radio, he states the following: ‘‘The telephone had already been dreamed of when Moses and Zoroaster conversed with God, and the radio as an instrument for transmission of divine messages was well imagined before that’’ (Schafer, 1977, p.89). Schafer appears to make rather farfetched, out of the blue statements without any argumentation to back these up. Perhaps these statements are meant as comic relief and while I appreciate his efforts to make his book an enjoyable read, such statements are rather


numerous in number and many of these feel superfluous. Another example of a rather vague reference can be found in a chapter on the influence of the industrial revolution. While discussing the immense noise pollution automobiles create, Schafer refers to Sigmund Freud, seemingly out of the blue (Schafer, 1977, p.84):

Sheer volume aside, the human sound which most closely approximates that of the internal combustion engine is the fart. The analogies between the automobile and the anus are conspicuous. First of all the exhaust pipe is placed at the rear, at the same position as the rectum in animals. Cars are also stored in dirty and dark underground garages, beneath the haunches of the modern dwelling. Freud says there are anal types. There are probably also

anal eras (Schafer, 1977, p.84).

I would not feel the need to criticize Schafer for such references if they would lead to a better understanding of his arguments and utilized terminology. But quite frankly, they do not seem to have such an explanatory function. Some of the references he makes in his book should therefore be taken with a grain of salt.

One could argue against Schafer’s concepts and ideas in many different ways. While addressing the importance of divergent approaches of soundscape research in his book, he does not present a ‘‘… comprehensive scientific methodology for dealing with matters of the soundscape…’’ (Laske, 1978, p.396). While contemplating about the collaboration of many divergent disciplines to create a strong grounding for the future discipline of acoustic design, he does not present the reader with clear points on how to establish such a school. His ideas of ear cleaning and soundwalking are useful contributions to the forming of the discipline, but they do not establish the more comprehensive methodology that needs to be learned and comprehended by such acoustic design pupils. Many questions arise. Besides the methods of soundwalking and ear cleaning, what should become the major subjects taught at such a school? Who will become part of the first staff of teachers for such an education? Will pupils have to learn aspects of disciplines like psychology, acoustics, biology, sociology? Can one focus on all these different disciplines and would it not be more fruitful and less time

consuming to make experts of these different disciplines work together in the field of acoustic design, instead of shaping pupils to become merely ‘well acquainted’ with this considerable amount of different disciplines? As it arguably takes a substantial amount of effort to become expertized in all these fields, it could take many years to become sufficiently knowledgeable in all of them. Perhaps it would take a ‘homo universalis’ for such an endeavour. Is Schafer’s


vision utopian or is it actually possible? None of these questions are adequately addressed in Schafer’s book. It seems to me that Schafer’s attempt to create a well-educated sound designer erudite in all of those different fields would take a long time. Perhaps too long, as Schafer stresses the importance of the rapid establishment of such a school to tackle the strong rise of noise pollution (Schafer, 1977, p.206). The way one could see it is that there will come to be a dilemma between two different options. The first option would be that the acoustic designer is educated in many different fields, but does not expertize in any of them; basically this acoustic designer is a jack of all trades and a master of none. Such acoustic designers could be trained relatively quickly, as none of the disciplines have to be learned thoroughly or in great detail. These acoustic designers could get to work rapidly in order to tackle noise pollution. In the second option, the acoustic designer is an expert in all of the different fields Schafer addresses. The education of such an acoustic designer would take substantially longer and as noise pollution is truly such a big threat as Schafer argues it to be (1977, pp.205-206), this form of education might take too long. So long that it might already be too late to tackle noise pollution at that point.

One last point of critique I would like to mention is that Schafer is not very clear in his definition of the term soundscape. He leaves the reader behind with many answers on what a soundscape could be, but arguably, with even more questions. What he does provide however is a proper grounding; an elaborative introduction to the topic of soundscape research. It is even said that Schafer ‘‘… set forth the topic of a new branch of

musicology…’’ and ‘‘… begun to assemble the first repertory of data with which this new discipline can deal’’ (Laske, 1978, p.396).

5.5 Handbook for Acoustic Ecology

In 1978 the Handbook for Acoustic Ecology was published by Barry Truax, one of the former members of the World Soundscape Project. This enchiridion contains a lot of essential information for the soundscape researcher. Hundreds of terms used by Schafer and his fellow WSP members have been noted down and attempted to be defined. Aforementioned terms like ‘acoustic design’, ‘acoustic ecology’, ‘soundwalk’, ‘keynote’, ‘sound event’,

‘soundmark’, ‘sound object’, ‘sound signal’ and ‘schizophonia’ are all included. The book could therefore serve as a very useful tool for acoustic designers, as it would enable them to quickly refer to the handbook and establish a common understanding of the soundscape terminology between these acoustic designers.


5.6 Foundations

Hitherto, this thesis has included some of the major academic works that have contributed to the development of the term soundscape and its research. Texts by Johannes Gabriel Gräno and Michael Southworth have laid a foundation for the soundscape principals. Schafer elaborated on the idea of the soundscape and actively participated in field work with his World Soundscape Project. These projects have laid the basis for new disciplines to emerge, like acoustic ecology and acoustic design. The second part of this thesis will have a strong focus on these disciplines.

6. Acoustic Ecology: an emerging discipline

In The Journal of Acoustic Ecology (2000), Hildegard Westerkamp states: ‘‘the term acoustic ecology first appeared (…) when the World Soundscape Project (WSP) at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada published the Handbook for Acoustic Ecology’’ (p.3). However, after careful research the term ‘acoustic ecology’ can already be found as early as the year 1977 in Schafer’s book The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World, a year prior to Truax’ handbook. In this book, Schafer states that acoustic ecology is ‘‘... the study of sounds in relationship to life and society’’ (p.205). In the same book, Schafer also states a second definition of acoustic ecology: ‘‘... the study of the effects of the acoustic environment or soundscape on the physical responses or behavioural characteristics of creatures living within it’’ (1977, p.271). The latter definition seems to be more one-directionally focused on the way a soundscape affects living creatures, while the first has a bi-directional focus between both the soundscape and living creatures. Having scrutinized Schafer’s work during this thesis, one can conclude that he presents the outcome of his researches mostly in the light of his first definition (1977, p.271). This definition seems to fit much better with his argument that humans have a substantial influence on the soundscape by means of technology and acoustic design, as well as the influence the soundscape has on humans through noise pollution and the awakening of schizophonia.

Acoustic ecology as a truly established field started in 1993 with the Tuning of the World Conference, named after Schafer’s 1977 book. It was here that, under the leadership of Hildegard Westerkamp, the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE) was founded. The WFAE promoted and initiated collaboration between scholars and artists interested in soundscapes on an international level. The creation of acoustic ecology, a discipline to bring


together various different fields, had been Schafer’s long lasting aspiration (1977, p.271). The goal of acoustic ecology to bring together scholars from various disciplines appears to be somewhat similar to geographer Johannes Gabriel Granö’s wish to establish the field of ‘human ecology’, in which he was willing to cooperate with a very different field than his own: sociology (Uimonen, 2008, p.14). Some of the most recent research on soundscapes is published in the annual journal published by the WFAE, called Soundscape: Journal of Acoustic Ecology.

Since the founding of the WFAE, a considerable amount of people have contributed to the field of acoustic ecology. One of them is Bernie Krause, who published an article in one of the WFAE letters. In this letter, Krause addressed a theory called the ‘niche

hypothesis’ (1993, p.6). This theory has become an important contribution to soundscape research and the way the various components within the soundscape are perceived to function in relation to one another. The niche hypothesis will be addressed at a later stage in this thesis during the scrutinization of Bernie Krause’s researches and texts. Many other influential authors have emerged during the 1990’s and 00’s, but one text that always stands out and is referred to in almost every article published by members of the WFAE is Schafer’s The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World (1977). It resides as one of the most pivotal and essential works for the basic understanding of the field of acoustic ecology (Wrightson, 2000, p.10). Also the work of the World Soundscape Project, under the leadership of Schafer, is acknowledged as pivotal for the discourse of acoustic ecology, as it addressed the fundamentals the discipline was built upon (Krause, 2016, p.17).

While these works had contributed greatly to the creation and development of the discipline, acoustic ecology during the 1990s and early 00s was still, and arguably still is to this day, a relatively new field and ‘‘... in the process of defining itself’’ (Westerkamp, 2000, p.4). Arguably, due to this factor contrasting arguments have been made over the years in texts published by scholars in the field of acoustic ecology. To epitomize, whereas Hildegard Westerkamp in the editorial of the Journal of Acoustic Ecology states that the discipline ‘‘... does not specialize in specific acoustic areas without always making the connection to the entire acoustic system of our world’’ (Westerkamp, 2000, p.3), other authors have argued that the discipline ‘‘largely emphasizes human-centred inquiry rather than the larger

socioecological systems approach...’’ (Pijanowski et al., 2011, p.204). The latter statement would support the idea that acoustic ecology has a much narrower and less holistic research




Related subjects :