In the introduction to The Soundscape by R. Murray Schafer one key idea is missing. That being what makes a positive soundscape and what makes a negative soundscape. Schafer makes clear that we should take a positive approach toward encouraging and preserving the sounds we like. This provides a reason for eliminating noise instead of letting negativity be at the core. Schafer also states that a ‘soundmark deserves to be protected’. While these statements lack specificity, it is certainly possible more specificity will be provided later in the book. Using our own specific instances of sounds we enjoy and sounds we do not can give more context to the ideas introduced.
A particularly eye-catching header was “Dionysian Versus Apollonian Concepts of Music”. The Dionysian concept is that music is meant to evoke emotion. This is a very familiar and intuitive definition that may resonated with many of us. The Apollonian concept says music is really its own entity and the evocation of emotion is a byproduct. While the Dionysian concept that music is inherently tied to emotion feels more familiar, both concepts contain truth. When I put on music intentionally it is often with the intention of evoking feeling in myself or others.
Schafer urges us to extend our definition of music in this introduction. Simply, he says that music is sounds. Under this definition it is much easier to see how an Apollonian concept fits it. The sound of rustling leaves or rain falling does not exist to evoke emotion. These sounds are merely part of our environment, but they are often quite pleasant.
We are able to categorize positive sounds with this framework, but what does this tell us about negative sounds? Certainly, not all music is positive. Despite this, it can be challenging to say what is bad about music. Music could be unpleasant if it is boring, abrasive, repetitive, or drowns out things that we want to hear. Boring or repetitive music generally fails to evoke emotion. By failing to evoke emotion the music becomes noise. Abrasiveness is not an issue unless if fails to evoke emotion.