02 February 2009

Cultural Awareness of Sound

In 2006, Daniel Barenboim gave the BBC Radio 4 Reith Lectures on the topic of sound. The lectures were broadcast on Radio National in Australia and I made a point of listening.

In my own view, making a point of listening is important in daily life. We are bombarded with sounds from all directions, but how many of us truly listen to what we are hearing? Do we usually attempt to shut out all of the sounds around us?

Have we become insensitive to the sounds of the natural world? Are we insensitive to the negative psychological associations others might have for particular sounds, even the ones we may personally consider to be musical?

When is making a sound appropriate and when is it disrespectful of the needs of others? Have you ever considered the needs of people whose employment requires them to sleep when you are awake?

Have you been kept awake by sounds, whether at home or when travelling? How did you feel? What might be the health implications of noise?

Perhaps you have had the experience of a beautiful piece of music being played or broadcast in an inappropriate context. How did it make you feel about the music, then and afterwards?

Click here to visit the BBC's main web page about the 2006 Reith Lectures.

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