Posted in Critique

Who’s afraid of R. Murray Schafer?

r-murray-schafer-marcia-adair Photograph by Miss Mussel

Who is, indeed? Both a fervid apology of and a furious pamphlet for Murray Schafer, written by James Wyness last year. Still groovy!

Fouter & Swick

frog

It has become fashionable in some sound and new music quarters to sneer and snipe at R. Murray Schafer and his ideas on the soundscape. In particular I’ve noticed that the ideas set forth in Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World come under attack for being nostalgic, romantic (without defining what this means), idealist, utopian – the list goes on. Of course the detractors rarely come up with any positive ideas themselves. And no I’m not going to name names – that’s for the reader to discover. The critics, if I may dignify them with such a title, range from academics seeking to distinguish their own second-hand ideas to the composer who seeks to validate his or her compositional aesthetic. Personally I doubt if many of the snipers have actually taken time to read the book from cover to cover. I confess openly that after years of taking for granted the…

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Posted in Critique, Report

A soundscape remodelled

Urban square Nauener Platz in Berlin was recently remodelled and reconstructed by urban planners and acousticians in order to improve its ambiance – with special regard to its sonic properties. One of the outcomes of this project is a middle-sized noise barrier (gabion wall) reducing the crossroads’ traffic noise on the playground by 3 dB.

Nauener Platz playground with noise barrierNauener Platz playground with noise barrier (gabion wall)

Following a distinct ›soundscape approach‹, acoustician Prof. Dr. Brigitte Schulte-Fortkamp and her colleagues at Technische Universität Berlin not only took measurements and calculated noise contour maps. They also conducted ›soundwalks‹ and even invited local residents to participate in the planning process. In the end, local residents required more pleasant sounds at Nauener Platz.

Sound devices installed on Nauener Platz

In respondance, several ›audio islands‹ were installed: today’s visitors of Nauener Platz are supposed to sit down on ›ear benches‹ with integrated speakers to listen to ocean surf or birdsong (sound devices by Barbara Willecke, sound files by Konstantin Dudel). Continue reading “A soundscape remodelled”