Student Responses: Discussions on Noise
The word noise is derived from the Latin form of nausea, meaning “seasickness”. Noise generally refers to any loud or unmusical sound. However, what is loud to you depends on the current state of your auditory function and what is unmusical is a matter of personal taste. One person’s noise could be another’s delight. So how do we live in our noisy culture without becoming sound paranoiacs? The goal is to protect our hearing mechanisms so we can enjoy the beautiful sounds of our planet. However, almost no place is free from excessive noise. Noise pollution has been an issue since the Industrial Revolution. The soundscape is a constant stimulus. Researchers, theorists, and even artists are looking deeply at its power to both disturb and to heal.
Be it a sudden sound blast or long term exposure to high levels of noise, our audiological health can be affected and often greatly diminished. For most of us, the psychological health of our hearing is never addressed until we notice that something is changing. This raises a number of questions. Who among us has considered the impact of our psychological state that stems from our auditory system? What are the psychological issues that can manifest themselves in the ear? When we experience loss – be it family, job, money, or health- how does that manifest in auditory function and what is the broader impact? Why is stress related auditory dysfunction rarely spoken about?
What can be done? Begin by establishing a new sound awareness. Assert your sonic rights. Become proactive and protect your ears. Learn to create sound and space conductive to the needs of your nervous system. Foster a culture that understands sound as fuel and the ear as a portal for charging the nervous system. Give our ears timely attention. Tend to our auditory health just as we do with our heartbeat and our breathing. The goal is to learn how to use sound with the same consciousness we would apply to food or drink. The conscious use of sound is sonic responsibility. This is the new way of thinking about sound, hearing, and human functionality.