R. Murray Schafer

Mr. Schafer died on August 14th, age 88.

He was a Canadian composer, and he was also very much part of the critique of noise in the world. It is he who made the phrase “soundscape” popular.

Here is his obituary from CBC:


Plus here is the NFB video made about him a number of years ago:

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I lost my ears in San Francisco

Well, OK, that is not a very good riff off the old song made so famous by Tony Bennett. BUT – apparently the Golden Gate Bridge has started humming in the past year or so. And the ‘noise’ is driving people nuts. (Though some people like it.)

This is what it sounds like!!! (Don’t listen for too long – you will get the point very quickly!)

According to this article, researchers here in Ontario are trying to figure out what is going on. It seems that the sound is due to some new railings on the bridge that respond to winds from certain directions. The plan is to fix it this summer.

Here is another video clip of the sound, by someone who likes it.

If you get to San Francisco in early summer, you might get to hear it.

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The noise/sound of others eating

Do you hate the sound of other people eating, chewing, swallowing, etc. ? IF so, you are not alone. You have what is called ‘misophonia’ (nothing to do with miso soup, in case you were wondering.)

New research has discovered that those with misophonia “…have stronger connectivity between the part of the brain that processes sounds and the part of the so-called premotor cortex which handles mouth and throat muscle movements.” It has to do with your brain’s mirror neuron system. (Huh, you say? Well, read the article here and see if it makes more sense to you.)

If you were part of the photo below, and if you have misophonia, you would probably have to run screaming from the room!

I hope no one has this problem. It would be especially bad for an extrovert.

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whales and noise (again)

Yes, more on the impact of noise on whales (and other sea life.)

I have never been sure if whale watching is a good thing – for the whales. Fun for us, but maybe not so much fun for them.

There are many places where you can watch whales. One of the first locations was off Húsavík, in north Iceland. They started running tours in 1995. And were very successful.

Now, they are using electric boats for these tours. The whales seem pleased (they come closer and stay around for longer). The captain doesn’t go home with a huge headache. And the watchers are watching in a quiet space, where they can hear the whales, not the loud deisel engine! Doesn’t that sound like a good plan?

You can read about the boats right here.

It still might be ‘wrong’ to go out and bug the whales. (Would you like it if boats came around your home, with people wanting to stare at you? I doubt it.) But at least it can be done quietly!

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The god of war? Maybe. But not today.

This recording is of Ingenuity, the helicopter flying around up there on the planet Mars. NASA has isolated and enhanced the sound so we can hear it. It is sort of cool to hear, though if you have hearing issues the low pitch of the droning sound might mess with you.

Listen/watch here.

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Noise and the Sea

I just watched the documentary “Sonic Sea”. This film, from 2017, tracks the impact of human noise on the sea and the various creatures who live there. If you ever wanted a really good reason to NEVER go on a cruise ship; OR if you are willing to buy less stuff that you don’t need, stuff that is shipped from across the oceans, then you should watch this. Navies, oil drilling, oil surveying, commercial shipping, commercial fishing – all generate an immense level of noise.

IF you have never thought about these issues before, then you should watch this. This film will anger you no end, and will leave you in tears about what we are doing to planet Earth.

Here is the link to the trailer – you can purchase the video for just a few dollars.

In addition, you can donate to help the cause here.

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I just sent out a posting that was intended for the International Jazz Day site. Please ignore!


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International Jazz Day, 2021

Once again, we have to postpone IJD events for April 30.

We HOPE to do something this fall, when things are closer to normal and we can have ‘real’ events.

You can still celebrate IJD with the IJD organization.

Here it a link to a news article about the events:https://www.wyomingpublicmedia.org/post/international-jazz-days-global-celebrations-are-and-again-online#stream/0

And here is a direct link to the IJD main page:https://jazzday.com/

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Noise and Trees

(A pinyon pine seedling.)

It is not that noise directly affects trees, though I would not be surprised if that were the case. This article is about a study of pinyon trees in New Mexico. A good number of these wells have compressors running 24/7. They are very loud:

“Dominated by woodland plants, the area in the US south-west contains a high density of natural gas wells, some of which are coupled with compressors that run continuously and generate chronic noise at up to 100 decibels. That is as loud “as being next to the speakers at a Black Sabbath concert or standing right next to the train tracks as the train goes by”, said Dr Jenny Phillips, who was lead author of the study while at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo.”

It seems that the noise from the many natural gas wells has scared off scrub jays, which are essential in the ecosystem for distributing the seeds of pinyon pines. As the article notes, these jays are smart and have episodic memories, which means that they remember what places scared them and they don’t return. Hence these seeds are not being distributed.

Here is the link to the article.

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For those of you who live in Toronto, or visit Toronto, here is recent information about noise by-laws in Toronto.

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