Right to Quiet Society Noiseletter
Spring 2007 - page 2

President's message , continued from page 1

Another result of that human endeavour for progress is the acquisition of technology to generate more and much louder sounds than ever before. Worse, sounds can be recorded, reproduced and played back over and over with hardly any limitation, even in the most remote parts of this planet and beyond. In the first edition of The Book of Noise (1970) R. Murray Schafer wrote about "Sound Imperialism" as follows:

It is we of Europe and America who have produced these problems. It is we who have produced the technology of outrageous sound. It is consistent with our behaviour in other aspects of life. Territorial expansion has always been one of our aims. Just as we refuse to leave a space of our environment uncultivated, un-mastered, so too have we refused to leave an acoustic space quiet, un-punctured by sound. The huge noises of our civilization are also a crude manifestation of this same imperialistic ambition. We are now in danger of erasing all acoustic refinements with an environmental soundscape that is characterised exclusively by its amplitude and brutality.


In the same book, Mr. Schafer used other striking headlines like "Sonic Weaponry", "The Modern City as Blitzkrieg", "The Big Sound Sewer of the Sky" and "The Sonic Boom". Under "A UNESCO Resolution" he wrote:

When groups normally concerned with the production of sounds suddenly turn to their reduction, we may realise that an international saturation point has been reached. Such is the case with the following resolution, unanimously passed
by the General Assembly of the International Music Council (UNESCO), Paris, October, 1969.
"We denounce unanimously the intolerable infringement on individual freedom and of the right of everyone to silence, because of the abusive use, in private and public places, of recorded or broadcast music. We ask the Executive Committee of the International Music Council to initiate a study from all angles—medical, scientific and juridical—without overlooking its artistic and educational aspects, and with a view to proposing to UNESCO, and to the proper authorities everywhere, measures calculated to put an end to this abuse."

continued on next panel, below...

President's message , continued

Now, 37 years after the first edition of The Book of Noise (there is a new edition out, available from Noise Watch), the world is much noisier than ever, providing plenty of material to write about. There was a rather revealing article about noise and hearing loss by Claudia Cornwall in Readers Digest of November 2006. It contains an intriguing tip from Marshall Chasin, an audiologist with the Musicians' Clinics of Canada. He points out that humming causes a small muscle in the middle ear to contract, and helps to lessen the effects of a loud noise. Mr. Chasin says, "If a musician is about to hit a rim shot on the drums, humming very quietly, almost inaudibly, can give 15 to 20 decibels of protection." Shouldn't we rather think twice about beating the drum instead of having to hum ourselves hoarse? That entire article is exclusively about auditory effects of noise. If those were not bad enough, we have to also pay due attention to all the non-auditory effects, not only of audible but, equally, of inaudible sound (infra and ultra sound).


In the 22 years I have been with the Right to Quiet Society, I have heard of so many problems with different types of noise from numerous people, that I could fill many pages. In interviews I am frequently asked what I consider to be the worst kind of noise. To me, noise that is made deliberately to disturb, annoy, impose, even assault and torture, is the worst, regardless of its loudness. This is followed by noise made out of negligence, thoughtlessness or lack of consideration. Whatever each individual may find to be offending, if we want to improve this situation, we have to make a combined effort to prevent and abate all noise. For that, I renew my call for your support and co-operation in which ever way you can help our cause. I also take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all our staunch supporters for their generous contributions over the years, some since the founding of our Society. Please bear with us to successfully tackle the problems with noise in the next 25 years!

—Hans Schmid

Talking surveillance cameras

Now police forces and councils [in Great Britain] are considering attaching high-powered microphones [to surveillance cameras] to "record aggressive exchanges before they become violent." The mikes are said to be able to detect conversations from 100 yards away. Holland already has such listening cameras in place. More than 300 of them have been installed in Groningen, Utrecht and Rotterdam. Exchange some heated words with a friend or stranger, and the cameras immediately swivel in your direction. Yet the Brits have done the Dutch one better.

They have camera systems that actually talk.


Britain's first "talking" CCTV cameras are "publicly berating bad behaviour and shaming offenders into acting more responsibly," according to the Daily Mail. The streets of Middlebrough are the first bit of Blighty selected for this loudmouth Big Brother.
Drop litter, engage in a verbal brawl or more, and speakers attached to the cameras bark orders to straighten up and fly right. "It's a hell of a deterrent," says system manager Jack Bonner in the story. "Most people are so a- shamed and embarrassed at being caught they quickly slink off without further trouble."

—Excerpted from Goeff Olson's "Opinion",
The Vancouver Courier, Dec. 8, 2006

Entire contents © 2007 Right to Quiet Society. Cartoon © 1996 Right to Quiet Society
< Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Next >

Right to Quiet Home Page