Quiet-List 1997

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Introducing myself

I am a self employed business/systems analyst who has been around for fifty
odd years and still cannot understand why the human race appears to have a
major problem with being considerate. Cape Town is my adopted home and is,
by all accounts,  a beautiful city. I am part of a (growing) body who
secretly hope that we do not get the 2004 Olympics. We see an increase in
crime, debt and poverty as the only lasting results.
Some years ago I came across the following, “About 2000 years ago the
Chinese discovered that noise can be used for torture. Criminals were
subjected to the constant ringing of bells which first drove them crazy and
then killed them.” These few words explained quite a lot! 
I am in the process of trying to set up "Noise Free Neighbourhoods" in Cape
Town aimed specifically (initially) at residential areas. I have always
wondered why some people have an apparent higher noise tolerance than
others. Perhaps some people use noise as a drug and like all other drugs
continued high doses lead to a weakened response which in turn requires
increased dosages. Could it also be used to alter the state of
consciousness, as in voodoo ritual drums?**
Many people I speak to complain, particularly, about loud music. However,
they always “try to put up with it”, or “sit through it” in places such as
theatres, cinemas and restaurants. In a “phone in “ program that I was part
of on 30 April one woman said that when she asked the manager of a cinema
to turn down the volume as there were only a handful of people in the
cinema he replied that the advertisers require that they never turn down
the volume “below level 6..” In response to this another caller (an
engineer) stated that the TV stations compress the frequency range of
advertisements and “blast” them at the viewers, which explains why the
adverts are always louder than the preceding volume.** Do any of you have
any data on these practices?
The (sole) Noise Control Officer of Cape Town City Council tells me that at
least 50% of all noise complaints relate to music. Generally our main
problems appear to be amplified music and “music” (usually emanating from,
euphemistically named, “parties”); barking dogs; and alarms (usually
triggered by carelessness). Some people appear to labour under the delusion
that if they tell their neighbours that they are “having a party” that this
excuses their noise..... I am afraid that the fact that you tell someone
that you are about to commit a crime does not make it legal (or
acceptable). I heard an interesting comment on our national radio which
went something like, “..the fact that it is not illegal does not mean that
it is not a gross violation of human rights...”, does the phrase “a crime
against humanity” also fit?  Don’t we need to get this message across to
legislators as far as noise is concerned? Other required messages might be:

- “In our modern world we are subject to continual noise in our city work
environments which is an additional stress factor on top of all the other
stress we experience. We need to be able to escape from this in the
evenings, and during weekends and holidays, by relaxing and unwinding in
our (quiet) homes.”
- R J Stewart (Music and the Elemental Psyche 1987) states: “Avoid
high-volume music... Sheer volume acts as a drug, triggering our power
centres in devolved and unhealthy ways**,... ... certain classical and
avant garde musical forms can be most depressing and unhealthy.”. 
- In a paper delivered at the “Urban Noise: tools for diagnosis and
perception” workshop held in Brussels on 24 March 1997, Valerie Gibson MBE,
of the Noise Network, UK, said: “It is not only loud sounds that are
harmful. She quoted Glass and Singer (1971) who state that ‘It is the
unpredictable and uncontrollable aspects of noise that can be especially
upsetting and potentially physiologically damaging’. Uncontrollable noise
places the victims’s body in permanent ‘fright, flight or fight’ mode. This
state leads to the over or under production of the brain/body chemicals
which are the very driving force of life itself. Nighttime disturbance
leads to serious disruption of the body’s biological circadian rhythms and
the loss of the restorative benefit of sleep.”
Perhaps the increase in noisy behaviour is also linked to the increase in
anti-social behaviour (or is it the other war round?); the increase in
aggressive behaviour (or is this caused, in part, by noise?); and the
growing culture of disobedience many of us detect around us.
Ray .
** Has the whole modern music industry perhaps stumbled on some or all of

Ray and Julie Hattingh
27 21 531-6781
P O Box 111
Howard Place
South Africa

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