Posted by: kaleidophonic | September 30, 2011

Coffeeshop ramblings and a book review

I’m back at my local coffee shop, trying to polish my chapter enough that I’m comfortable letting other eyes at it. Today the music here is some kind of old vocal jazz, of the easy listening variety. Not something I’d normally listen to, but it’s good as background music I guess.

I just finished writing a few paragraphs about the idea of the soundscape and keynotes, mostly referring to Murray Schafer’s work but also this new(ish) book I was excited about when I first heard about it, but less so once I actually got my hands on it: Sonic Experience: A Guide to Everyday Sounds, edited by Jean-François Augoyard & Henry Torge.

Initially I thought this book would be a collection of essays about sounds we hear in our everyday lives. I wanted to read about traffic noise, and birdsong, and human conversation, music, wind, construction… you know, the sounds of the everyday. Alas, this book is actually more of a technical manual, full of terms and definitions that might be useful in terms of the study, engineering, and description of noises. If was interested in acoustic design or electro-acoustic engineering this book would probably be quite useful. But for a humanities-brain like mine, the technical scientific language (not to mention the graphs!) is intimidating and sometimes downright indecipherable. But the book does get into a bit of critical discussion about the concepts of the soundscape and of keynotes, which helped me define more clearly some of the terms that I use to help readers think sonically about Montreal’s past.

Speaking of the historical soundscape of Montreal… more on that tomorrow. Stay tuned.


  1. Your “old vocal jazz of the easy listening variety” piques me.

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