In Murray Schafer’s The Soundscape: our sonic environment and the tuning of the world, the author begins to postulate how changing sounds affect human life. The study of this was explained in a way I hadn’t before considered. Though I knew that daily life and images of the past were studied through first-hand accounts from that era, either through written or artistic works, I had not previously considered that the sounds of the time needed first-hand accounts. The author mentions knowing “the ambient sound level” at the time of a diary entry from the amount of miles away Niagra Falls could be heard. The increased ambient sound level is–at least for me–a seldom considered effect of industrialization. Though this increase may not be as negative as increased carbon emissions, it still harms human’s relations with the environment. As electronic noises increase, we are increasingly detached from nature and can picture with greater ease a world with less nature. Our norm becomes traffic rather than birds, leading us further down a path of industrialization.
The author also argues that the health of the community can be discerned from the tone of their music: rigid music in a time of stability, chaotic music in a time of unrest, and so on. This idea can be applied both to the ambient sounds of the modern world and to modern music. With increased congestion in cities, ambient noise worldwide has increased to a frantic pace, mirroring the increased rush of modern life. Instead of waking up to soothing bird calls, we are awoken to blaring horns reminding us to get a move on. This is also mirrored in our music in the increased use of electronically produced sounds. Instead of invoking images of nature, most modern songs reflect the chaos of daily life. Harsh drum beats of rock’n’roll has replaced the soothing tones of cellos for most modern music enthusiasts. These changes have both reflected and encouraged a more human-centric lifestyle; our separation from the sounds of nature has pushed nature to a lower priority than humans as we are increasingly less reminded of its existence.