Technology reveals information but annuls perception
No iPod and no headphones in that photo, instead I am listening to what Mahatma Gandhi so eloquently described as the Divine Radio. The photo was taken this morning and I am walking on the GR 4 hiking trail near Beaumes de Venise. Of course the scenery is breathtaking; but so is what R. Murray Schafer termed the soundscape - the sounds of the immersive environment. The very low ambient noise level in this unspoilt region means that sound carries for miles, and a distant dog barking becomes an aural event. Today we found ourselves on a ridge midway between Sainte-Madeleine and Notre Dame de l'Annonciation as the bells at both monasteries announced Sexte; the result was the camponological equivalent of the timpani duel in Nielsen's Fourth Symphony. No iPod and no music streaming is no problem at such a time, because as composer, educator and visionary R. Murray-Schafer tells us: "technology annuls perception as much as it reveals information". In 1973 Murray-Schafer, who was leading the World Sounscape Project at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, was invited by CBC to create a series of radio programmes on the theme of 'Soundscapes of Canada'. The following is an extract from the briefing note he sent to the students that worked with him on the project. I suggest that the new controller of BBC Radio 3 Alan Davey uses it as a template when he tells his inherited production team what he expects of them.
I want you, therefore, to begin considering ways to make our work the subject of household conversations across the country. These programmes must be radically inventive - unlike anything you have ever heard from a loudspeaker before. they must be rich, informative, shocking, bold, sweet, sad, urgent...Also on Facebook and Twitter. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use", for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).