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June 30, 2006


John Davies

Those survey findings chime with one done recently here, on a housing estate hemmed in by major roads, among children and young people up to 16 - for them noise was by far the greatest nuisance, car noise, sirens from local hospital / police and fire stations. Ask the older people and surveyers tend to mostly tick the box 'youth disorder', which generally amounts to youngsters shouting and yelling - as they do - in bus stops and chippies at night. In both cases excess noise signals danger - real or perceived. You're right - noise is a major issue in making healthy cities. A major indicator. The London Noise project is a great idea and it looks lovely too!

Andrew Dowsett

This is fascinating - thank you.

It makes me wonder about ways in which we can work to create the kinds of aural environment that enhances calm and peace. Running/bubbling water would seem key to me; perhaps channeling wind (such as chimes, though small chimes can be a bit twee); and planting in ways to encourage birdsong (and screen-out traffic noise)...

Also about the balance of creating space into which people can step-out of psychologically irritating background noise, alongside working to transform the overall picture. It's not an either/or; and the former isn't even a short-term measure along the way to the latter as long-term aim - at least, not if what we might be after is a textured soundscape...


same info different perspective.......

Dana Ames

Hmm- perhaps the draw of country is its quietness, especially at night. There are plenty of sounds in the countryside, but they are sounds made by living beings, not machines. -children notwithstanding :)



Strange experience: take a bunch of city-dwelling kids to the countryside where it's totally silent at night. And they get a bit scared. They start 'hearing things'... their ears compensating for the lack of hum by inventing noises for them.

Paul Fromont

Hmmm. I agree Kester. I wonder about the upsurge in use of the iPods etc - the retreat into aural worlds of our own choosing - one way to 'close' your ears. Shut your eyes, turn on you iPod and you're in another 'place.'


Good point Paul. The question might then be, has the upsurge in personal aural spaces exacebated the problem once the earphones are out? Are people now less tolerant of noise that they can't control with devices?


it was recognising that by being plugged into my own music source when journeying through town that i was missing something. found that being squashed amongst others was more annoying when i couldnt hear them, people that bumped into me were less real, less human, just an annoyance, doing it to specifically piss me off.
you miss alot of the richness when you moderate your environment, when you listen to your own individual soundtrack.
the real soundtrack to the city changes as you move through it, many places sound quite distinct. plus there's that joy of the unexpected that comes from the half heard conversations, from the music coming from bedroom windows. the rhythm of walkers, or changes in floor materials. the way all
yes there is a whole of white fuzz; someof which is down right irritating, but there is only one noise that I really would do without completely....the tinny sound that comes from other peoples headphones.
im much happier moving through the city now that i can hear it.

Ruth Williams

The Aural Environment seems to constantly be under threat as more sources of, and louder noises become acceptable. Part of the human condition is the need to wonder and to follow unstructured thought processes much as described by 'Kester' in the listening to aural cityscapes; much of the 'polluting' sounds produced are regular in pattern, often too loud and counterproductive to these processes. I would say that aural pollution is about more than irritation and stress, I believe that continued subjection to certain sound styles (piped music, mobile ringtones,TV as background, bleeps at the supermarket), reduce the power of independent thought. Recently I complained to a car park attendant at Kennack Sands, a beautiful and peaceful beach site of special scientific interest, who was playing loud disco music from his van, I wanted the peace and quiet to begin as I arrived in the car park, his opinion was that I should be content to scurry to the beach and out of earshot. I pointed out that a precedent of innappropriate noise levels was being set and the incident set me wondering about the whole issue of aural pollution and why I found the music so irritating. I really need a gentle soundscape from time to time.

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