A pilot experiment on effects of motor and cognitive activities on memories of soundscapes

Invited paper

Edda Bild


Tuesday 2 june, 2015, 18:00 - 18:20

0.6 Madrid (49)

Sound, particularly noise and its effects on urban dwellers, has been a main concern for urban public campaigns for centuries worldwide. While policies relating to noise control have origins documented as far back as the 7th century, noise abatement campaigns, with the objective to assess and reduce “annoying” or dangerous noise, started in the early years of the 20th century. Soundscape research originated in the 1970s, with a broader perspective offering a wider and more ecological understanding of sound perception, instead of focusing exclusively on the negative effects of sound on daily life. While noise control and abatement strategies have been developed from a concern for human wellbeing, these issues have mainly been addressed through object-centered approaches, relying on physical descriptions and measurements, and using methods from psychophysics and physics. Given the empirical evidence produced by soundscape researchers and the work of historians, ethnographers, sociologists and anthropologists of sound on the two-way relationship between humans and sound in urban contexts, we propose a new approach that centers on human activities as a mediator between the perception of sounds at an individual level (psychological dimension) and the social values of these sounds (sociological dimension). By accounting for the observation that activity is driven by and drives the way in which humans relate to their environments, we focus on how the meanings of sounds vary across psychological and sociological factors as given through the activities in which individuals engage. We propose theoretical considerations for researching this relationship between humans and sounds from a sociological perspective as well as a heuristic framework for evaluating the variety of research methodologies addressing this relationship.

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