STAC 1P99, the Culture of Noise, explores the role of noise in music, social space and art. Culture of Noise examines the value of sound studies, from the influences of the Dada art movement to the historical and ground-breaking sonic environment theories of the late Canadian composer, writer and sound theorist R. Murray Schafer.
In Spring of 2021, STAC students had the opportunity to gain hands-on sound experience in sound production, execute their own sound walk recording, and learn how to use digital sound editing software.
Taught by Ryan Bruce, the assignment was to create a finished work that could be included in an exhibition and their portfolios. Working in teams of three, the first student recorded a 25-minute sound walk using a sound recording device; the second student edited the recording on Audacity (sound-editing software) to produce a final three-minute soundscape; and the third student reflected on the process and wrote a description.
The outcome was learning the value of active listening and how this impacts our environment, allowing students to engage with sound in a different way.
sound walk assignment
GROUP 6 – The Digital Tempo of Sound and Waves
This recording presents a vast array of sounds. Similar to composer R. Murray Schafer’s use of nature and his environment to create music, we have presented a “world soundscape.” Connected to the avant-garde movements of Dada and musique concrète, this recording was created from the everyday sounds of nature. It starts with the sounds of birds chirping and gusts of wind, followed by rushing waves. There are repetitive sounds of clicking, a brief portion of speech, and the sound of cars moving. Recurrent pitter-patter can be heard with different intensities of sound and speed. The tempo increases and decreases, followed by silence, and an exchange of loud bursts with faint sounds of birds and frogs in the distance. As the recording concludes, the voices and footsteps emerge once more as the sounds of nature continue in the background.
GROUP 16 – Suburbia
This piece feels like a suspenseful dream; an escape from reality.
Silence welcomes us at the beginning, followed by a mixture of sounds like a dog barking, a kid screaming, and cars honking that at first all seem incoherent, but collectively build up a sense of suspension. At this point, we are trapped in an unpleasant place with no escape. All of a sudden, the car horn disrupts the dissonance, noting a perspective change.
Appearing peacefully is the consonance of birds’ chirpings in the rain, only to be disturbed by the sonorous noise of urgently running steps. At this point, all of the sounds feel like they are echoing in our heads, which combined become a dissonant background to the accelerated footsteps. This is an attempt to run away from everything. All of a sudden, the car horn’s disruption wakes us up…
It’s time to face reality.
Thu Hoang Nguyen Pham
Group 21 – Before the Storm
This sound walk takes rural and urban sounds, natural and man-made noises and blends them together to make a soundscape. The sonic noises from animals such as birds, dogs, wind, and thunder meet the phonic life of children playing, bicycles and cars, creating what R. Murray Schafer considered to be “The Music of the Environment”. The acoustic ecology of stochastic sounds from natural surroundings creates a very peaceful and harmonistic soundscape. This piece is designed to be evocative, using various effects to manipulate and contrast the timbres, reverberations, and sonorousness of the sounds. The development and intensity of the sounds create an immersive aural experience that wavers between cheerful noise and ominous storms—while the strategic addition of positive encourages the listener to be attentive to and reflect on what they hear.