Discord: The Story of Noise

Mike Goldsmith. Oxford Univ., $29.95 (296p) ISBN 978-0-19-960068-7
From the moment the alarm clock sounds until our heads hit the pillow again at night, noise assaults our ears. Yet, as British acoustic scientist Goldsmith reminds us in this sometimes harmonious and occasionally dissonant history, noise has been a part of human society, especially urban society, since ancient Mesopotamia. As society has evolved, the level of noise has grown, accompanying industrial and technological development: the building and operation of factories, railroads, cars, and airplanes. Goldsmith reminds us that both unproductive noises (a neighbor's late-night party) and annoying noises (the garbage truck at 3 a.m.) fill our world. So does productive noise—Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, which introduced listeners to new sounds (which some listeners still considered noise). Goldsmith concludes unremarkably that even though we'll always have noise with us, we can have a quieter future if we work together by using the technology of noise reduction and establishing noise-control regulations 20 illus. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/20/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-19-968779-4
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