Honestly. Aren’t we all used to random amounts of noise? Don’t we collectively accept noise as a part of the urban soundscape? Don’t we count noise as one of the experiences in our daily lives? Why else would the phrase ‘sights, sounds and smells of the city’ be so commonplace? Are you acousticians expecting to make the whole world deathly quiet and get paid for it too? I mean, nobody ever died because something was too loud.

To start with, let’s differentiate between sound and noise.  Sound is an auditory sensation. Noise is too, but the difference is, Noise is always unwanted. It is never what you ‘wish’ to hear.  You may yearn to hear the  bustling, noisy bazaars of your hometown when you first move to colder countries and see all windows closed. The quietness gets to you. Some people even feel enlivened and enthused on their way to work, as they hear the whole city bustling about them, preparing for the day ahead. I am one of them.

But you don’t want to live in one of those bazaars. If your house was located there, you’d be shutting your doors and windows all the time to shut out the clamour and the chaos.  The keyword here is time. Noise never killed anyone instantly. Well, it did, but that’s rare.  What’s commonplace, is prolonged exposure. That can do you in. And you’ll never even know what caused it. You’d blame it on your genes, faulty lifestyle, etc. I’m not trying to take the blame away from those factors, but if you’ll excuse the irony, noise is a silent killer. And not many can pinpoint that.

If this sounds far fetched, the next few posts will  look at some common examples, and then more believable facts and figures. The next post looks at the “kinds of” noise that exist, that we sometimes don’t even notice, and that we could all really do without.

Well, Hello World!

Soundscape is the difference between trying to hear bird tweets in a city, and bird tweets in the countryside. This is not to say that cities are generally noisy. The soundscape is also the difference between a quiet boardroom and a noisy village classroom.

To start with the crusty, brusque definition, acoustics is the science of sound. This is about how sound moves around you. Why would you care? If the spoken word is important to you, or if music leaves you feeling blissful, you might be interested to ensure that car horns and rumbling vehicles don’t drown the more subtle aspects of your music.

Conversely, if you can hear every footstep of your neighbour on your ceiling, or if you wish to god drum kits were never invented, you might be interested to contact an acoustical consultant.

While the bulk of us largely ignore the soundscape around us and concentrate on the work at hand, soundscapes are so much a part of our lives that it’s easier to make some small improvements to them than use will power or unknowingly suffer attention lapses and raised blood pressure.

Quite simply, sound affects our mood.

And this is the corner of the internet where you’ll find my accounts of soundscapes I have seen, and of things we can do to change the soundscapes around us for the better.