Emotion, Expression, Explanation
Edited By András Benedek and Kristof Nyiri
“Silence Filled with Sound”: Spatial and Visual Metaphors in Raymond Murray Schafer’s Idea of Soundscape
“The world … is full of sounds. Listen”1 – writes Raymond Murray Schafer. This enticement conceals the fundamental message of the Canadian composer’s writings. The soundscape becomes the central concept in his thought. Schafer uses this word to describe both the sonic environment of a given place and a musical composition. The soundscape is not conceived merely as an acoustic and artistic phenomenon, but one understood in terms of the human environment, perception, sociology, and history.2 Schafer emphasizes that “The soundscape is a field of interactions, even when particularized into its component sound events. To determine the way sounds affect and change one another (and us) in field situations is immeasurably more difficult a task than to chop up individual sounds in a laboratory.”3 He believes the analysis of contemporary soundscapes to be among the foremost tasks of researchers and composers.4
Schafer included his concept in numerous writings, many of them devoted to music education. This is reflected in the publication titles, such as The Composer in the Classroom (1965), The New Soundscape: A Handbook for the Modern Music Teacher (1968), and The Thinking Ear: Complete Writings on Music Education (1986). Schafer’s educational writings do not assume the form of typical textbooks, but instead document classes conducted at universities and secondary ← 132 | 133 → schools. They often constitute a record of discussions led in class, where the composer’s role in conversation with students resembles the Socratic stance. Schafer’s activities form part of a wider current...
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