Vancouver Folk Music Festival '04

Here are some sound level readings from Friday, July 16, 2004, evening, all taken with a Radio Shack digital Sound Level Meter, set to fast response and A weighting (related to the human ear's most sensitive range).

Warsaw Village Band: 82 to 85 dBA average, 89 dBA maximum, measured near the rear of the audience, about 70 feet back from the central speakers.

Janis Ian: average 83 dBA, maximum 90 dBA measured about 90 feet back from central speakers Jorane, various pieces: 85 dBA average, 93 dBA maximum at the left side about 60 feet from the stage 90 dBA average, 97 dBA maximum 70 feet back from central speakers 72 dBA average, 84 dBA maximum at the right side about level with the central speakers.

Mercan Dede: 75 dBA average, 82 dBA maximum 70 feet back from central speakers.

Los de Abajo: 95 dBA average, 102 dBA maximum at the left side about 60 feet from the stage 87 dBA average, 92 dBA maximum 70 feet back from central speakers 68 dBA average, 72 dBA maximum at NW corner of parking lot 62 dBA average, 71 dBA maximum at W 4th Ave near bicycle parking clearly audible (not measured) at W 5th and Highbury.

In addition, on Sunday, July 18, about 6.30 pm, music was clearly audible at W 8th Avenue and Trimble St. approximately 2 km from the festival site.

- Norman Cousins

Music on the telephone

This summer, while calling Safeway for some information, I was annoyed by their entertainment service while on hold. As I complained, I was given the customer service number to call: 1 800 723 3929. The representative there told me he was located in Arizona, had no idea of the location of the store in Vancouver, but gave me a local number for "human resources", 604 295 3348. Naturally, that number was "not in service". I encourage and urge you to always chide businesses, organisations, government offices etc. for imposing their entertainment and often advertising on callers. Demand either silence or, at the very least, the option to press which ever digit to NOT have to listen to their choice of sounds! This entertainment has absolutely nothing to do with the purpose of a call. It is not merely completely irrelevant but, indeed, an imposition and insult.

Movie sound and sound that moves the mood

While watching the movie The Corporation, a set of earplugs with a 24 dB attenuation was just right to hear the sound well at a comfortable level. One can only speculate on what other spectators without ear-plugs heard. Now we no longer go to see and hear movies because of the painfully loud sound. That includes Fahrenheit 9/11.

How good that there is also silent print media to review such movies. The July 1, 2004 edition of Maclean's magazine carried an account of Michael Moore's widely discussed movie under the headline "The Bushwhacker".

The following sentence from that article is particularly telling about the influence of sound: "But then it moves to Iraq, with images of civilian carnage and glimpses of a U.S. military we haven't seen on television - from tank gunners discussing the heavy metal music they listen to while enjoying 'the ultimate rush' of wasting Iraqis, to embittered soldiers condemning the war as an outrage."

What parallels could there be between the heavy metal music in tanks and the loud sound in cinemas?

Stabbed to death over loud music
Nicola Gatland, 40, was fatally stabbed by her neighbour when the two women argued over her teenage daughter's loud music. At Lewes Crown Court, Sussex, Theresa Derekis, 54, a former legal secretary, admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and was jailed for six years. - Weekly Telegraph (UK), July 28, 2004

Right to Quiet Society Newsletter, Fall 2004
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