Environmental soundscapes

In the 1960s, the Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer founded the World Soundscape Project at Simon Fraser University.  The research group explored the sonic environment.  Later projects would include  The Vancouver Soundscapes of Canada (1973), European Sound Diary, and Five Village Soundscapes.  In his book on the subject, The Tuning of the World, Schafer wrote that the project consisted of

documenting important features, of notating differences, parallels and trends, of collecting sounds threatened with extinction, of studying the effects of new sounds before they are indiscriminately released into the environment, of studying the rich symbolism sounds have for man and of studying human behavior patterns in different sonic environments in order to use these insights in planning future environments for man. … The final question will be: is the soundscape of the world an indeterminate composition over which we have no control, or are we its composer and performers, responsible for giving it form and beauty? (1)

Links:
World Soundscape Project – Simon Fraser University
Soundscape Explorations: Includes videos of different acoustic environments
World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE)

(1) Schafer, Murray (1977) The Tuning of the World.  New York: Knopf, pp. 4-5.  Cited in: Morgan, Robert (1991) Twentieth-Century Music.  New York: New York, p.454.