May 2016 i

The study, which used an MRI scanner to monitor brain activity, adds to a growing body of evidence that natural environments are good for humans, affecting mental and physical health and even levels of aggression.
Most architects receive little training in sound, and so are reliant on advice from an acoustic consultant. For this reason, a good relationship between architect and acoustician is vital. A big change in design methods is happening now, where acoustic engineers play architects examples of how their building will sound.
  • Be One
This four-track album imagines the sound of British summertime as heard by one of the most important members of the animal kingdom – the bee.
It emanates from a sense of lack of belonging, and a belief that all other people have a consistent level of confidence in their own competence, which, judging by the huge numbers of people who will admit to being sufferers, is not the case.
  • BBC News article on Impostor Syndrome which also mentions the Dunning-Kruger effect which appeared in This American Life's episode 'In Defence of Ignorance' (Thanks Philip Watson)
  • The theme of Impostor Syndrome is experiencing some morphic resonance at the moment as Tonebenders also feature it in their podcast

Sound. Memory.

Woods Noise

The recent issue of Field Notes magazine, published by the Gruenrekorder label had an unusual article composed of various onomatopoeic poems, written by numerous sound artists. The theme was memory, specifically memory based on sonic sensation. Despite smell being considered the sense connected most vividly with memory, I think there's a certain emotive nature to sound memories that can't be triggered by smell. My own most potent sound memory is of the trees that are outside the back of my family home. They are part of the outer radius of the Rossmore forest. Nothing to me was more primevally terrifying than the

SSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

of the trees on a windy night. The sound seemed to roll down the hill, seeking to wash you away into the anonymous dark. It was a threatening, aggressive sound, completely unlike the calming white noise wash of waves. Even now I still find it recalling those fears, but being a bit older, it provides more of a thrill, like nature releasing a brutal scream towards the listener.

It's a subject discussed several times by David Toop in Sinister Resonance as he tells of the fearful thoughts that are triggered by random nocturnal noises. He describes being 'woken on a Saturday night by sounds  that through the mist of sleep could have been a gang of cannibalistic human babies, crawling around our house, wet, cold, hungry and in search of an entry point'. Sound seems to press itself on the memory in a unique way, being able to emote so much more than other forms of memory. Perhaps in our mind's eye as we review the memory, just as with cinema,  the sonic sensations enhance the visual to a higher level?

Quiet!

An important key to a stress free environment is quiet. This is in particular one of the reasons I enjoy visiting home; the few days out of the consistently noisy Dublin City Centre provides, at least, the option to escape noise. Noise triggers our internal survival response, flooding the body with adrenaline and cortisol* - handy when you are about to be decapitated by a bear, but useless when you're trying to read Wordsworth in the shade of a tree.

So stick on a set of headphones and listen to John Cage's 4'33.