BBC Report on World Listening Day by David Sillito

2013 World Listening Day

You are invited to participate in the 2013 World Listening Day. World Listening Day has been happening annually on July 18, since 2010, and the fourth annual World Listening Day happens on Thursday, July 18. The purposes of World Listening Day are:

  • to celebrate the practice of listening as it relates to the world around us, environmental awareness, and acoustic ecology;
  • to raise awareness about issues related to the World Soundscape Project, World Forum for Acoustic Ecology, World Listening Project, and individual and group efforts to creatively explore phonography;
  • and to design and implement educational initiatives which explore these concepts and practices.

World Listening Day is co-organized by the World Listening Project (WLP) and the Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology (MSAE). July 18 was chosen as the date because it is the birthday of the Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer, who is celebrating his 80th birthday this year. Schafer is one of the founders of the Acoustic Ecology movement; the World Soundscape Project, which Schafer founded in 1971, is an important organization which has inspired a lot of activity in this field. The culmination of the World Soundscape Project’s pioneering research into the sound environment is described in his seminal book, The Tuning of the World. Published in 1977, it gained international attention and defined many new terms and concepts in sound and ecology popularly used to this day.

WLP and MSAE invite you to participate in the 2013 World Listening Day, which will happen on Thursday, July 18. Other WLD events will be happening during the week of July 14th-20th. Here are several possibilities. You can—

  • organize a soundwalk or a listening party when people play field recordings.
  • organize a performance event that involves field recordings and other artistic expressions that explore our soundscape and how we can listen to our sonic environment.
  • participate in a private / solitary way, by paying attention to your soundscape.
  • facilitate an educational event that relates to acoustic ecology, field recordings, or a similar topic.
  • Contact organizations that are participating in World Listening Day, to see if you can get involved that way.

The level of participation that happened during the first several World Listening Days was wonderful, and we look forward to the kind of participation we’ll be having this year. If you would like to participate in the 2013 World Listening Day, please email worldlistening@gmail.com, and be sure to include “World Listening Day” in the subject line.  You could also download the 2013 World Listening Day participation form here. Thanks!

Download Korean WLD participation form(한글버전 WLD 지원서), Korean WLD Invitation letter(한글버전 WLD 초대장).

Soundscapes and Architecture — a New Love Affair or a Long-Term Relationship? Part II

But do we tend to associate certain sounds with certain rooms? Do the spaces speak?

Hogarth webIt is a common knowledge that we experience places not only by seeing but also by listening. In Spaces Speak, Are You Listening?, Barry Blesser and Linda- Ruth Salter take advance of his long career in audio engineering and her experience regarding space, and they examine auditory spatial awareness. They introduce the notion of aural architecture, integrating contributions from a wide range of disciplines such as architecture, music, acoustics, psychology, art and many others. According to them, when we think of architecture, we tend to visualize the properties of space that can be seen, especially boundaries like walls and surfaces. In contrast, aural architecture has aural boundaries. Moreover, the aural and acoustic attributes of a space have an influence on the moods and feeling of those who inhabit it. Searching for a certain high-impact space is easier than trying to construct it, since it is impossible to auralize a space that has never been experienced. So, it is obvious that we tend to listen to the unique voice of certain spaces but without realizing it most of the times.

But what happens when we leave our home? How we tend to aurally experience the city? The French philosopher and phenomenologist Jean- Francois Augoyard at the Centre de researche sur l’espace sonore et l’ environment urbain (CRESSON) at the National School of Architecture of Grenoble and lead soundscape researcher, makes an innovative approach. In his book, Sonic experience, a guide on everyday sounds, he introduces the notion of sonic effect, and he provides a sourcebook full of auditory examples with a distinctive architectural and urban context. Nevertheless, he clearly uses the notion of R. Murray’s soundscape and Pierre Schaeffer’s sound object. Augoyard believes that never before has the everyday contemporary soundtrack of urban space been so cacophonous, and he hopes to enrich our understanding of what it is to listen and the role sound plays to our environment.

kentrikos stathmos tokxolmiFollowing the same path with CRESSON Bjorn Hellstrom, the writer of Noise Design: Architectural Modelling and the Aesthetics of Urban Acoustic Space, takes a structural approach to urban acoustic space. While most regulations adopt a defensive attitude towards noise, as unwanted sound, Hellstrom believes that urban noise, transient and immaterial as it is, makes public and private space less predictable and less monotonous, having a direct connection to transparent and fluid space, which is a central principle of contemporary architectural composition.

But is this transformboston-symphony-hallation of the contemporary urban soundscape in the Western World, the result of major cultural and technological changes that took place in the beginning of 20th century? Emily Thomson, in her book The Soundscape of Modernity: Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening in America, 1900-1933, agrees that the dramatic transformations in what people heard and how they listened, were the result of the prevalence of a neradio-city-music-hallw aural culture. The new sound of the modern technology changed radically the experience of sonic space. This is a fact that you can visually notice for example when you experience the architecture of Boston’s Symphony Hall, which was built in 1900s and the architecture of Radio City Music Hall, which was built in the 1930’s. The architectural composition of these two stages is mainly the result of acoustics but its function changes entirely in these two cases.

The result of this journey is that; the connection between soundscapes and architecture is not a new but an ancient one. While the soundscape of the world changes, as R. Murray Schafer has stated in his book that introduced the notion of soundscape, modern man should learn to inhabit a world with an acoustic environment radically different from any other era. I believe that contemporary architects should stop designing for people without senses and focus on real space rather than space constructed by bits!

 

References:

Blesser, Barry and Linda-Ruth Salter. Spaces Speak, Are You Listening?: Experiencing aural architecture. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2007. Print.

Auguyard, Jean-Francois and Henry Torgue. Sonic experience, a guide on everyday sounds. Quebec: McGill- Queen’s University Press, 2005. Print.

Hellstrom, Bjorn. Noise Design: Architectural Modelling and the Aesthetics of Urban Acoustic Space. (Doctoral Dissertation, School of Architecture, Royal Institute of Technology, KTH) Gotenborg: Reproman AB, 2003. Print.

Thomson, Emily. The Soundscape of Modernity: Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening in America, 1900-1933. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2004. Print.

Schafer, R. Murray. The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World. Vermont: Destiny Books, 1977,1994. Print

 

Picture sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Enraged_Musician

Second photograph is courtesy of Alex Stogiannis; Stockholm’s central station January 2013.

http://bicycleresearchproject.blogspot.gr/2013/01/18-emily-thompsons-soundscape-of.html

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