Soundscape  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A soundscape is a sound or combination of sounds that forms or arises from an immersive environment. The study of soundscape is the subject of acoustic ecology. The idea of soundscape refers to both the natural acoustic environment, consisting of natural sounds, including animal vocalizations and, for instance, the sounds of weather and other natural elements; and environmental sounds created by humans, through musical composition, sound design, and other ordinary human activities including conversation, work, and sounds of mechanical origin resulting from use of industrial technology. The disruption of these acoustic environments results in noise pollution.

The term "soundscape" can also refer to an audio recording or performance of sounds that create the sensation of experiencing a particular acoustic environment, or compositions created using the found sounds of an acoustic environment, either exclusively or in conjunction with musical performances.

Contents

Elements

The term soundscape was coined by Canadian composer and environmentalist, R. Murray Schafer. According to this author there are three main elements of the soundscape:

  • Keynote sounds
This is a musical term that identifies the key of a piece, not always audible… the key might stray from the original, but it will return. The keynote sounds may not always be heard consciously, but they “outline the character of the people living there” (Schafer). They are created by nature (geography and climate): wind, water, forests, plains, birds, insects, animals. In many urban areas, traffic has become the keynote sound.
  • Sound signals
These are foreground sounds, which are listened to consciously; examples would be warning devices, bells, whistles, horns, sirens, etc.
  • Soundmark
This is derived from the term landmark. A soundmark is a sound which is unique to an area.

...and the elements have been further defined as to essential sources:

  • Geophony
Consisting of the prefix, geo (gr. earth), and phon (gr. sound), this refers to the soundscape sources that are generated by non-biological natural sources such as wind in the trees, water in a stream or waves at the ocean, and earth movement, the first sounds heard on earth by any sound-sentient organism.
  • Biophony
Consisting of the prefix, bio (gr. life) and the suffix for sound, this term refers to all of the non-human, non-domestic biological soundscape sources of sound.
  • Anthrophony
Consisting of the prefix, anthro (gr. human), this term refers to all of the sound signatures generated by humans.

In his 1977 book, The Tuning of the World, Schafer wrote, “Once a Soundmark has been identified, it deserves to be protected, for soundmarks make the acoustic life of a community unique”.

Pauline Oliveros, composer of post-World War II electronic art music, defined the term "soundscape" as "All of the waveforms faithfully transmitted to our audio cortex by the ear and its mechanisms".

Bernie Krause, musician and bioacoustician, redefined the soundscape elements in terms of their three main sources, geophony, biophony, and anthrophony.

Soundscapes in music

In music, soundscape compositions are often a form of electronic music, or electroacoustic music. Composers who use soundscapes include real-time granular synthesis pioneer Barry Truax and Luc Ferrari, whose Presque rien, numéro 1 (1970) is an early soundscape composition.

Music soundscapes can also be generated by automated software methods, such as the experimental TAPESTREA application, a framework for sound design and soundscape composition, and others.

IC555 , a contemporary artist from India is considered to be a pioneer of soundscape fusion design.He combines sounds of music ,nature and electronica from various musical genres.

The soundscape is often the subject of mimicry in Timbre-centered music such as Tuvan throat singing. The process of Timbral Listening is used to interpret the timbre of the soundscape. This timbre is mimicked and reproduced using the voice or rich harmonic producing instruments.

The soundscape consists of three major sources or components. They are the biophony (the non-human, non-domestic animal sound signatures that occur in any given biome), the geophony (non-biological natural sounds that occur in any given biome and that include the effects of wind, water, earth movement, etc.), and anthrophony (human-generated sounds that include entropic electro-mechanical noise, and structured sound such as music and theatre).

Soundscapes in health care

Soundscapes from a computerized acoustic device with a camera may also offer synthetic vision to the blind, utilizing human echolocation, as is the goal of the seeing with sound project.

Soundscapes and noise pollution

Papers on noise pollution are increasingly taking a holistic, soundscape approach to noise control. Whereas acoustics tends to rely on lab measurements and individual acoustic characteristics of cars and so on, soundscape takes a top-down approach. Drawing on John Cage's ideas of the whole world as composition, soundscape researchers investigate people's attitudes to soundscapes as a whole rather than individual aspects - and look at how the entire environment can be changed to be more pleasing to the ear.

It has been suggested that people's opportunity to access quiet, natural places in urban areas can be enhanced by improving the ecological quality of urban green spaces through targeted planning and design and that in turn has psychological benefits.

See also

Further reading




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Soundscape" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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