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Soundtracks to our lives

4 white cockatoos

Sound environment musings:


The influence that our local sound environments have upon us is huge; as well as determining 'where' we are in the world, they directly affect 'how' and who we are .. 


If we care to spend a moment listening to - and comprehending - the sounds and noises that are surrounding us right now ... we will realize that these are 'soundtracks' - the soundtracks to our own lives


They may sound like this:





city centre


pple play

wind tree

listen ..

Soundscapes, sound environments and us


Whilst we usually think of 'soundtracks' as (just) accompaniment for film/movie, ipods, shopping centres and restaurants, in reality they are the day to day environmental soundscapes that dominate - and shape - our lives .. and the extent to which we have been conditioned to accepting (mechanical and human-made) noise and obtrusive sound as 'normal' is huge


That our films/movies, music, media, programs, theatres - and our day-to-day life sound-environments - have become so homogenised is hardly surprising .. the same noises are dominating us in every corner of the planet .. with the result that we are limiting ourselves in our ability to hear - and to experience - anything other than a world largely dominated by man made noise .. 

'Noise' because it (the noise) is usually an unintended (?) result of allowing (loud) sound producing machines to take over our lives, then presuming that this is ok (and somehow doesn't have consequences for all of us so affected - is ridiculous

The sound environments that we live in force us to modify the ways we talk and communicate, to hear, to use language and to think 

To illustrate .. 

A (Melbourne) university auditory study here a few years ago found that our (surviving) more gregarious city birds, had raised both the volume and the pitches of their calls; they had become louder and shriller - in order to be able to be heard by the other members of their (bird) communities - as a result of their habitats becoming louder  

How might this be important?

As our bird calls reflect the enforced changes imposed on them by our (human) created urban sound environments, so we are affected too .. if the birds are becoming louder and shriller - so are we

Why might 'becoming louder and shriller' be a problem ?

They signify an imposition that we place on ourselves; they are limiting the range of sound that we are able to hear -- the quieter more subtle 'detail' that we would inherently be able to hear and respond to, has been overwhelmed by the loudness and constancy of the noise

If we do actually need 'space' (a quieter place from which to comprehend - make sense of - our sound-world) then, it seems, we have little chance of achieving it in a contemporary city environment

And, in being surrounded by unrelenting noise - with no space - we can only 'communicate' by increasing our own volume, pitch and speed

Illustration 2

Listening to a soundtrack (from a film or program) from 50+ years ago can be surprising .. these is virtually, no background (added or real) sound - and, often, no sound effects nor wall-to-wall music filler .. ie same representation of our (then) day-to-day life environment

pics .. drws - hd scratch, puzzled looks

If we live in the middle of this 

it is very doubtful that we would respond to - or even notice this ?

freedom shop

Sound environments as soundtracks .. alternatives

Sound environments can be of great value when utilised as a 'base' for soundtrack work because they are 'relatable' - that is, they are the sounds (of wind, the sea, city, water, people, bird and animal and the unrelenting noise) that we all hear (if unconsciously) all the time 


They also determined and shaped any music and constructed sounds created; they 'pitch' and time our music, indicate the 'space' needed for events being introduced into the place; many are so evocative that they provide all the sounds and musics needed in a project's soundtrack



Many nature sounds are sublime, and could be considered as being 'music'; they have colour, shape, space, texture, surprise - and are good to listen to

exs - julatten ckts (4043), badja bd/ck(2722), a/s bb (8008)


Others are wilder, especially those of the elements .. 

ex wind in ti tree, grass, reeds, thunder clap, rain storm, coongie mosquitos,


Some snd envs I have found are ridiculous - choir and chainsaw; others are spectacular - confest d & f


Man made and city sounds are certainly useful, relatively; they do depict the way we are in (a lot) of the world

Unrelenting, 'full-spectrum' stuff -- eg xxx

there is nowhere left to go here, no-where to get out of, no escape .. these are all true - relatively

AS all are man made, so men can unmake them .. or better, learn from the experience of realising that they are all man made .. and that is all they are 

pics; creek, 

Musings 3:

Created 'sound environments' are made for film, cd, installation; they may include music composition,  sound and 'instrument' sourcing and creation, sound design

I prefer not to differentiate between these categories; why not engage all aspects of the process ?


ex - under sea; dredge dino; sea monster; ship in storm; 'rain forest meets reef' ex



music and environment

- maybe heard as being the same thing; 'music is sound .. '

- maybe heard as celebratory/ceremonial, occurring within and as part of, nature, folk musics, chants, raga, mantra

- maybe be based one on the other; transcriptions of bird calls, both 'sharing space'  

- maybe be viewed as separated from nature; as 'art' in concert halls, ego/manufactured 'pop

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