Manifesto for a better acoustic environment
The Sound Environment Centre at Lund University – is pleased to present a new edition of the MANIFESTO for a better acoustic environment (originally published in 1995 by the Royal Academy of Music). The ‘sound manifesto’ has been drawn up by a working group comprising Stig Arlinger, Bengt Holmstrand, Henrik Karlsson, Leo Nilsson, Ludvig Rasmusson, Torbjörn Stockfelt, Ola Stockfelt and Mikael Strömberg.
Below is part of the introduction. The manifesto can be downloaded via the link “report series” on the left.
Why a sound manifesto?
With this manifesto, the Sound Environment Centre and the Royal Academy of Music want to:
• raise interest in our soundscapes and promote active listening
• emphasise the importance of the acoustic environment for a good quality of life
• advocate healthy ears and good hearing for all
• encourage a general reduction in noise levels in our day-to-day surroundings
• demand greater consideration of the acoustic environment in the planning of housing, offices, transport and recreation areas
• draw attention to sound-sensitive environments and argue for their protection from extraneous sounds
• assert the individual’s fundamental right to silence
• highlight the place of silence as a prerequisite for musical experiences
• call for further research into the effects of sound on humans
This manifesto was prompted by unanimous research reports from a number of sub-fields and growing concern over the deterioration of the acoustic environment and a lack of awareness from individuals and public authorities.
Noise pollution is now widespread in Sweden. Everywhere and at all hours of the day and night, we are exposed to unwanted sounds. Total noise levels are increasing almost uncontrollably.
An increasing number of people are being disturbed by noise and an increasing number are suffering incurable damage to their hearing.
Hearing, one of our most vital senses, has been neglected in our visually dominated culture. A healthy acoustic environment and undamaged ears are necessary conditions for good health, orientation, communication with the world around us, creating, thinking, and enjoying music and the fascinating soundscape we have around us.
In our surroundings, there must be space for silences as well as stimulating sounds. Work and rest also apply in the world of sound. We all have a fundamental right to an undisturbed acoustic environment. It is not acceptable for us to be robbed of the silence we should have ‘at our disposal’ by our surroundings. No one should be forced to listen to anything they perceive as an intrusive disturbance.
We call for a new, strong commitment to a balanced, diverse and positive acoustic environment. People’s senses should be allowed to function optimally; the individual’s emotions should not be harmed by the noise of his or her surroundings, and communication between people should be able to take place undisturbed without danger to mental or physical health.
In order to achieve this goal, we must refuse to accept the increasing levels of noise and strive to spread understanding of and interest in acoustic environment issues, while paving the way for the possibilities associated with active listening.