A soundscape is a sound or combination of sounds that forms or arises from an immersive environment. The study of soundscape is the subject of acoustic ecology. The idea of soundscape refers to both the natural acoustic environment, consisting of natural sounds, including animal vocalizations and, for instance, the sounds of weather and other natural elements; and environmental sounds created by humans, through musical composition, sound design, and other ordinary human activities including conversation, work, and sounds of mechanical origin resulting from use of industrial technology. The disruption of these acoustic environments results in noise pollution.
The term "soundscape" can also refer to an audio recording or performance of sounds that create the sensation of experiencing a particular acoustic environment, or compositions created using the found sounds of an acoustic environment, either exclusively or in conjunction with musical performances.
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The term soundscape was coined by Canadian composer and environmentalist, R. Murray Schafer. According to this author there are three main elements of the soundscape:
- Keynote sounds
- This is a musical term that identifies the key of a piece, not always audible… the key might stray from the original, but it will return. The keynote sounds may not always be heard consciously, but they “outline the character of the people living there” (Schafer). They are created by nature (geography and climate): wind, water, forests, plains, birds, insects, animals. In many urban areas, traffic has become the keynote sound.
- Sound signals
- These are foreground sounds, which are listened to consciously; examples would be warning devices, bells, whistles, horns, sirens, etc.
- This is derived from the term landmark. A soundmark is a sound which is unique to an area.
...and the elements have been further defined as to essential sources:
- Consisting of the prefix, geo (gr. earth), and phon (gr. sound), this refers to the soundscape sources that are generated by non-biological natural sources such as wind in the trees, water in a stream or waves at the ocean, and earth movement, the first sounds heard on earth by any sound-sentient organism.
- Consisting of the prefix, bio (gr. life) and the suffix for sound, this term refers to all of the non-human, non-domestic biological soundscape sources of sound.
- Consisting of the prefix, anthro (gr. human), this term refers to all of the sound signatures generated by humans.
In his 1977 book, The Tuning of the World, Schafer wrote, “Once a Soundmark has been identified, it deserves to be protected, for soundmarks make the acoustic life of a community unique”.
Pauline Oliveros, composer of post-World War II electronic art music, defined the term "soundscape" as "All of the waveforms faithfully transmitted to our audio cortex by the ear and its mechanisms".
Soundscapes in music 
In music, soundscape compositions are often a form of electronic music, or electroacoustic music. Composers who use soundscapes include real-time granular synthesis pioneer Barry Truax and Luc Ferrari, whose Presque rien, numéro 1 (1970) is an early soundscape composition.
IC555, a contemporary artist from India is considered to be a pioneer of soundscape fusion design.He combines sounds of music, nature and electronica from various musical genres.
The soundscape is often the subject of mimicry in Timbre-centered music such as Tuvan throat singing. The process of Timbral Listening is used to interpret the timbre of the soundscape. This timbre is mimicked and reproduced using the voice or rich harmonic producing instruments.
The soundscape consists of three major sources or components. They are the biophony (the non-human, non-domestic animal sound signatures that occur in any given biome), the geophony (non-biological natural sounds that occur in any given biome and that include the effects of wind, water, earth movement, etc.), and anthrophony (human-generated sounds that include entropic electro-mechanical noise, and structured sound such as music and theatre).
Soundscapes in health care 
Soundscapes and Philosophy 
The perception of sound and music has been used in order to understand complex landscapes such as war, in texts like 'Sonic Warfare', by Goodman and 'The Sound of Geometry' by VK. Guru. Guru's conception of an ethnological soundscape, for example, hinges on the concept of an imaginative sound. Which is described by Guru in his work 'The Sound of Geometry' through the following passage:
'As you stare out into the distance, the range of audibility diminishes, into blurring images, but when one stares at some such distant image, we would be startled to occasionally feel a sound, like burgeoning colour, like a created logic. Such imaginative sound seems to lie at the interstices of the gaps in the modern industrial sensorium, which itself is hooked to the image as the spectacle.'
He also further discusses the idea of disjunctive sound, in the final section of the Sound of Geometry, which bursts into a poetic passage called 'The Ghosts of Conversations':
'Two Ghosts whisper, in a starlit desert. They carry a conversation onward, to a voyage of the world. They have embarked from their bodies many years ago. Sometimes in the depths of an ocean, they meet other ghosts and a new sound bubbles forth, into the world. And so the sounds of the earth grow like the expanding universe, climbing slowly like a branch.'
Soundscapes and noise pollution 
Papers on noise pollution are increasingly taking a holistic, soundscape approach to noise control. Whereas acoustics tends to rely on lab measurements and individual acoustic characteristics of cars and so on, soundscape takes a top-down approach. Drawing on John Cage's ideas of the whole world as composition, soundscape researchers investigate people's attitudes to soundscapes as a whole rather than individual aspects - and look at how the entire environment can be changed to be more pleasing to the ear.
It has been suggested that people's opportunity to access quiet, natural places in urban areas can be enhanced by improving the ecological quality of urban green spaces through targeted planning and design and that in turn has psychological benefits.
See also 
- Ambient music
- Environments (series)
- Field recording
- Musique concrète
- Noise map
- Program music
- Sound art
- Sound installation
- Sound sculpture
- Space music
- Imaginative Sound
- V.K. Guru
- Ghosts of Conversations
- LaBelle, Brandon (2006). Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 198, 214. ISBN 0-8264-1845-7.
- Truax, Barry (1992). "Electroacoustic Music and the Soundscape: The inner and the Outer World". In Paynter, John. Companion to Contemporary Musical Thought. Routledge. pp. 374–398. ISBN 0-415-07225-5.
- Oliveros, Pauline (2005). Deep Listening: A Composer's Sound Practice. iUniverse. p. 18. ISBN 0-595-34365-1.
- Krause, Bernie (2012). The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World's Wild Places. Little Brown. p. 278. ISBN 978-0-316-08687-5.
- Roads, Curtis (2001). Microsound. Cambridge: MIT Press. p. 312. ISBN 0-262-18215-7.
- Boodler ambient soundscape generator written in Python
- fLOW ambient soundscape generator (Apple Macintosh)
- Levin, Theodore (2006). Where Rivers and Mountains Sing, Sound, Music and Nomadism in Tuva and Beyond. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
- Krause, B (January/February 2008). "The Anatomy of a Soundscape". Journal of the Audio Engineering Society 56 (1/2).
- Krause, B (2012). The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World's Wild Places. New York: Little Brown. ISBN 978-0-316-08687-5.
- Pijanowski, Bryan C.; Villanueva-Rivera, Luis J.; Dumyahn, Sarah L.; Farina, Almo; Krause, Bernie; Napoletano, Brian M.; Gage, Stuart H.; Pieretti, Nadia (March 2011). "Soundscape Ecology: The Science of Sound in the Landscape". BioScience 61 (3): 203–216.
- Seeing with Sound
- Irvine, K. N.; Devine-Wright, P.; Payne, S. R.; Fuller, R. A.; Painter, B.; Gaston, K. J. (2009). "Green space, soundscape and urban sustainability: An interdisciplinary, empirical study". Local Environment 14 (2): 155. doi:10.1080/13549830802522061.
Further reading 
- 1969 The New Soundscape - R. Murray Schafer
- 1977 The Tuning of the World - R. Murray Schafer (ISBN 0394409663)
- These 2 works were adapted to become part of the 1993 book, The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World - R. Murray Schafer (ISBN 0-89281-455-1)
- 1977 Five village soundscapes (Music of the environment series) - A.R.C. Publications (ISBN 0-88985-005-4)
- 1978 Handbook for Acoustic Ecology - Barry Truax (ISBN 0-88985-011-9)
- 1985 Acoustic Communication : Second Edition - Barry Truax & World Soundscape Project (ISBN 1-56750-537-6
- 1994 Soundscapes: Essays on Vroom and Moo, Eds: Jarviluoma, Helmi - Department of Folk Tradition
- 2002 Wild Soundscapes: Discovering the Voice of the Natural World - Bernard L. Krause (ISBN 0-89997-296-9) - book & CD
- 2003 Site Soundscapes: Landscape architecture in the light of sound - Sonotope Design Strategies, Per Hedfors (Diss.: ISSN 1401-6249 ISBN 91-576-6425-0  Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Diss. summary: ISBN 978-3-639-09413-8
- 2004 The Auditory Culture Reader (Sensory Formations) - Michael Bull (ISBN 1-85973-618-1)
- 2005 "Acoustic Ecology Considered as a Connotation: Semiotic, Post-Colonial and Educational Views of Soundscape" in Soundscape: The Journal of Acoustic Ecology Vol.6 No.2 - Tadahiko Imada 13-17 (ISSN 1607-3304)
- 2006 Qualitative Judgements of Urban Soundscapes: Questionning Questionnaires and Semantic Scales - Raimbault, Manon, Acta Acustica united with Acustica 92(6), 929–937
- "Soundscapes / Paesaggi sonori". lo Squaderno (10). December 2008. ISSN 1973-9141. Retrieved 2009-03-14.
- 2006, “Gebiete, Schichten und Klanglandschaften in den Alpen. Zum Gebrauch einiger historischer Begriffe aus der Musikethnologie”, Marcello Sorce Keller, in T. Nussbaumer (ed.), Volksmusik in den Alpen: Interkulturelle Horizonte und Crossovers, Salzburg, Verlag Mueller-Speiser, 2006, pp. 9–18.
- 2006 The West Meets the East in Acoustic Ecology (Tadahiko Imada Kozo Hiramatsu et al. Eds), Japanese Association for Sound Ecology & Hirosaki University International Music Centre ISBN 4-9903332-1-7
- 2008 "Soundscape, postcolonial and music education: Experiencing the earliest grain of the body and music" - Tadahiko Imada in Music Education Policy and Implementation: International Perspectives (Chi Cheung Leung, Lai Chi Rita Yip and Tadahiko Imada Eds, Hirosaki University Press) ISBN 978-4-902774-39-9
- 2009 A Little Sound Education - R. Murray Schafer & Tadahiko Imada (Shunjusha, Tokyo) ISBN 978-4-393-93539-2
- 2012 The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World's Wild Places, Bernie Krause, Little Brown New York, ISBN 978-0-316-08687-5
- World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE)
- Soundscape: The Journal of Acoustic Ecology, published by WFAE