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The Soundscape: Our Environment and the Tuning of the World
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The Soundscape: Our Environment and the Tuning of the World

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  612 ratings  ·  34 reviews
The soundscape--a term coined by the author--is our sonic environment, the ever-present array of noises with which we all live. Beginning with the primordial sounds of nature, we have experienced an ever-increasing complexity of our sonic surroundings. As civilization develops, new noises rise up around us: from the creaking wheel, the clang of the blacksmith’s hamme ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 1st 1993 by Destiny Books (first published January 1st 1977)
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is mostly a pretty fun book with some sections that inspired a good deal of thought. There are some really interesting maps & data scattered throughout the book that's fun too...
His conservative, finger-wagging tone is kind of galling though. I keep saying the title of the book could have also been "The Way Things Ought to Sound". R. Murray is unhappy with the world as it sounds, and he wants qualified people to change it.

The takeaway is that people trained in acoustics & music should be th
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sound
At times I found myself laughing, frowning and completely disagreeing with the autor and in a matter of seconds, completely inspired.
I absolutely loved this book.
Alex Walz
Jan 12, 2022 rated it really liked it
Throughout the time I was reading this book I noticed myself pausing to reflect on the soundscapes I occupy. Cars driving in the slurry of melted snow were less annoying once I heard them as waves and wind.

The book is broken into parts which examine nqtural sounds, the sounds of people, the sounds of all industry and modern society, and the development of acoustic profiles.

For me personally I found the opening and closing sections to be the most inspiring with its poetic descriptions painting pi
Edward Ferrari
Sep 07, 2013 rated it liked it
I knew it was bound to be a little a bit dated when I chose it (it was published in the 70's), but a lot of what must have been inspirational about it at the time remains that way. I found it frequently to be on the right side of poetic overstatement and despite the anti-noise argument frequently relying on rhetoric rather than reason I found it an enjoyable and informative read. ...more
May 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
I was assigned this book for a class. For a textbook it reads really well. I read it fron to back no problem bc it is filled with interesting ideas on sounds, memory, experience, emotions, psychology, etc.
Apr 21, 2020 rated it liked it
“The final question will be: is the soundscape of the world an indeterminate composition over which we have no control, or are we its composers and performers, responsible for giving it form and beauty?”

“The sense of hearing cannot be closed off at will… McLuhan wrote: “Terror is the normal state of any oral society for in it everything affects everything all the time.”

“Evergreen forest, in its mature phase, produces darkly vaulted aisles, through which sound reverberates with unusual clarity
Tried to revisit this cover-to-cover but I just could't persist. Schafer's unscholarliness would be tolerable if he wasn't also trying to trojan horse his fears of a chaotic modernity under the cover of ecological awareness-raising. Schafer suggests many interesting connections between sounds and the evolution of human social organisation and industry but they mostly lack the poeticism required to paper over their lack of rigour. Three stars to acknowledge the work's role is provoking attention ...more
Conrad Leibel
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! Obviously the first book one must read when studying and producing soundscape design. There is so much information here with a high degree of historical breadth. While one must certainly read further into more specified histories, this is the best introduction on the topic. Highly recommended for all interested in sound design, noise, music, silence and everything else heard and unheard.
May 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, favourites, theory
An excellent study of environmental sound and the role we play within the "acoustic ecology". Picking up where Marshall McLuhan left off with how society traded the ear for the eye and is being shocked back into using its ears again, he delivers a very comprehensive study of how we perceive (or don't perceive) sounds, noise, and the different ways we currently and may possibly listen. ...more
James Carroll
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating book about the music of the world around us. As a composer it has literally tuned me in to how musical materials surround us, making it easier to find accessible compositional ideas from nature and from technology.
Oct 26, 2020 added it
"But the designer does not redesign a whole society: he merely shows society what it is missing by not redesigning itself." 💖💖💖 ...more
Jan 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: health-sciences
A must-read for anyone learning or interested in Cultural Studies and Environmental Psychology.
Jul 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Interesting book. A bit dense at times. The content is somewhat dated but it is a good read.
Cole Blouin
Sep 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
An important and helpful book. But not without some considerable flaws.
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
The word “Soundscape” is a term coined by the composer and writer R. Murray Schafer which means our ever-present sonic environment. Through history this soundscape has continued to increase in complexity as the world of the post-industrial revolution continues to evolve.

As our awareness concerning the dangers of toxic waste and environmental pollution grows, there is however a lack of awareness concerning the ever-increasing pollution of our sonic environment. In his book “The Soundscape -the Tu
Karen Chung
Sep 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
The writing style of this book put me off a bit at first - it tends to ring pedantic now and then, though you get the feeling the author is fighting hard to not use too many of the obscure, technical words he knows and is comfortable with, including several that he himself has coined. But after a few chapters it didn't bother me much anymore. And the technologies referred to go only back to 1977, but this is not a major problem - the author's points remain largely valid in the present day as wel ...more
Dec 01, 2015 rated it liked it
This is an informative read for somenone interested in sound and its design. Getting through the initial chapters was a struggle. The later half of the book was more useful. It is full of information relating to the author's personal experiences and to studies carried out as part of the world soundscape project. These include numerous facts on various sounds and their significance. This book will definitely point out interested readers in the right direction for further exploration. It reinforce ...more
Jan 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
I expected to like this book more. It's an innovative ecological reading on music and sound. The best part is the glossary and his coining of new words (back in the 70's) like Soundscape, Ear Cleaning, Earwitness, Schizophonia, and Sonography. But I was hoping for more ideas for composing and less just describing the world of sound. ...more
Jun 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is just amazing and I couldn't stop reading it. Finished some chapters and saw that it was the book I wanted to read about ancient music history, noise, techno/house and music explained by the rich vocabulary and historical facts from the pen of the writer. ...more
May 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such an inspiring read! Every chapter brought wonderful insights, especially for a young designer finishing up graduate studies. He has done many studies and the fact that the information is much older really makes me want to go out and redo his studies just to see if anything has changed!
Nov 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Pretty much dated and sloppy writing. However, as a Field Recording listener and person who work lots with sound, this book is really informative though I might not agree with R. Murray's argument on hi-fi and lo-fi. ...more
Emanuele De libero
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Seminal and fascinating introduction to the sound of the world around you. In a visually dominated experience of modern life, this compact and entertaining book will open up your ears and help you appreciate sounds you may have previously tuned out as noise. Revealing and inspiring for musicians.
Jul 01, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I was very curious to learn about the subject, but the writing was so atrocious I couldn't stand it any more. ...more
Oct 28, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Acoustic ecology as a form of urban planning. Nostalgic. Yet truly a pioneer of his field.
Nov 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a critical audible history book. certainly the most engrossing read in a while for me...
Denisse Beltrán
so, I thought my ideas around the terms 'soundscape' and 'soundsphere' were original...and then I googled them. ^_^


I look forward to reading this book
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
Poetic, philosophical, and captivating. A thoughtful book that will open your eyes (and more importantly, ears) to the music of the world around us.
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful. All sound specialists, writers and directors need to read this book.
Onsetsu Evan Cordes
Tough, dry, and good.
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought and read this book when it was first published, 1977. It remains one of the most memorable books I've ever read. ...more
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“Today all sounds belong to a continuous field of possibilities lying within the comprehensive dominion of music. Behold the new orchestra: the sonic universe! And the musicians: anyone and anything that sounds!” 4 likes
“The soundscape of the world is changing. Modern man is beginning to inhabit a world with an acoustic environment radically different from any he has hitherto known. These new sounds, which differ in quality and intensity from those of the past, have alerted many researchers to the dangers of an indiscriminate and imperialistic spread of more and larger sounds into every corner of man’s life. Noise pollution is now a world problem. It would seem that the world soundscape has reached an apex of vulgarity in our time, and many experts have predicted universal deafness as the ultimate consequence unless the problem can be brought quickly under control.” 1 likes
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