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Anatomy of the Soundscape: Evolving Perspectives

[Feature] The concept of the soundscape was first introduced by R. Murray Schafer in his 1977 book Tuning of the World. Schafer’s definition of soundscape includes all of the sound from a particular environment that reaches the human ear. Schafer considered that we are linked to the natural world through its perceived voice, and he encouraged us to exam - ine what first stirred human communities to form sound into cohesive and expressive patterns such as music, dance, and even speech. In the past several years, mostly as a result of technological developments in field recording and data analysis, it has become necessary to focus more specifically on the complex sources of soundscape acoustics in order to more accurately explain and probe the roots of this phenomenon. In the following article the soundscape is described as comprised of three basic active acoustic sources : biophony, geophony, and anthrophony. These sources are sometimes independent of one another while at other times intrinsically related in various combinations. In addition, the active soundscape can only be understood in light of the passive surrounding environment in which the source is transmitted. The connection between the natural soundscape and early human culture and spirituality will be addressed. Further - more, this article will touch on the ways in which natural soundscapes are currently thought to be linked to the fields of ecological resource management, geology, medicine, biology, physics, sociology, and many other disciplines.

JAES Volume 56 Issue 1/2 pp. 73-80; January 2008
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AES - Audio Engineering Society