Sound Reasons: Auditory Experience and the Environment

By Andrew Czink.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The culture of major cities in Western developed nations has a long-standing dominantly visual bias. While ‘design’ is expected in the visual arena of architecture and urban planning, it is not a common feature of our soundscape. The urban soundscape is generally a by-product of other human activities and so may be alienating us from our environment. Our relationship to the environment has become dysfunctional.

Unlike the visual domain, auditory experience is fundamentally haptic and brings us into close contact with our environment. We ‘feel’ our environment and our place in it through hearing. Research in the cognitive neurosciences shows that the environment is a continuing influence on the development of our brains throughout our lives. By designing our soundscape and engaging in attentive listening we may enable ourselves to develop a healthy relationship with our environment: one that is more conducive to making genuine, considered decisions about environmental policies and that may motivate us to make the personal and economic adjustments necessary to successful implementation of such policies.

Through sonographic analyses of both natural and urban soundscapes, the alienating nature of the urban soundscape is demonstrated. Features of natural soundscapes will be examined in relation to their applicability to urban sound design of public spaces.

Keywords: Acoustic Ecology, Auditory Experience, Listening, Soundscape, Environment

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp.59-72. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.155MB).

Andrew Czink

Graduate Student, Liberal Studies, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Andrew Czink is a pianist, composer, recording engineer and educator. His music has been presented throughout the world. He has an ongoing interest in auditory culture and acoustic ecology, particularly as they impact upon the environment, knowledge, meaning, and technological mediation. He is currently completing an MA in Liberal Studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

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