Week 2 assignment and materials

For next week, I have asked you to create your own “soundscape”, to capture a sonic reality that interest you. You are free to decide what degree of interaction and/or manipulation you want to have with the materials, whether to present them “as they are” or to stamp them with your “compositional” signature.

Readings to explore:

First, a must-read/skim daily dose of crotchetiness on noise from “Studies in Pessimism (The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer)”, Schopenhauer on “Noise”.

R. Murray Schafer’s famous chapter on Soundscape, born of his World Soundscape Project at Simon Fraser University (and previous iterations in the Vancouver Soundscape Project, etc).

Related, Schafer’s The New Soundscape, a “handbook” for teachers of the new area of soundscapes, sound ecology, and later sound studies. Rooted in pedagogy buy well beyond it.

Another important figure in the WSP to examine is Barry Truax, in particular his book “Acoustic Communication”, which attempts to explore the relationships attempts to understand the “interlocking behavior of sound, the listener and the environment as a system of relationships,
not as isolated entities.”

Max Neuhaus’s description for his soundwalk, “Listen”  (1966), a location-specific work that has been done many times elsewhere…a quick search will bring several “performances”. Note, too, Neuhaus’s contrast between the ideals of his work and Schafer / Truax’s Soundscape Project.

Neuhaus is worth exploring further. his best known work, Times Square is worth a look (listen) but you should take the time to explore his background and motivations, how he went from a percussionist for the avant-garde to a performer in public spaces to a “sound artist” interested in publics spaces.

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