“The world once spoke to us in a million voices, rich with meaning, but now we effectively live within a global megamachine which hums constantly… and tells us little that is meaningful.” Max Dixon, paper “New Direction in Soundscape Management”

SOUND IN OUR EVERYDAY LIVES

Home owners have become so taken with “open plan” living that one in five has had a downstairs wall demolished in the past decade according to latest figures in a recent survey commissioned by Lloyds TSB Home Insurance. Rather than moving, people are adjusting their own property to create their dream home and the living space they need This quest for light and space in the home has thrown up a whole new set of challenges and created a far more complex domestic soundscape increasing the demand for quieter domestic appliances. Does it really matter if our appliances are quieter? The World Health Organisation, in their report on Noise Effects and Morbidity, believes it’s crucial, stating: “Environmental noise acts as a stressor at night by disturbing sleep and via annoyance during the day …With chronically strong annoyance a causal chain may exist between the three steps health - annoyance - disease.” So pretty important, then to consider carefully the collection of machines we surround ourselves with: a desirable appliance must not only look good, but needs to sound effortless, smoothly efficient. An appliance instantly becomes unwelcome if it starts to dominate the conversation.

‘We must hear the acoustic environment as a musical composition and own responsibility for that composition.’ R Murray SchaferThe Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World’, 1994