The Ear Decides: Noise or Sound?


By Starre Vartan

In the Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology survey of environmental sound, a questionnaire was passed to a small survey of 77 people, who were asked to categorize noise, and then to judge it (which means to say whether the sound had positive or negative connotations).

According to Catherine Guastavino, the author of the paper, “Human and natural sounds gave rise to positive judgments (except when reflecting anger), whereas mechanical sounds gave rise to negative judgments. This distinction was even observed within certain categories such as music, which gave rise to two opposing qualitative evaluations depending on whether it reflected human activity directly (“musician”) or indirectly (“loudspeakers” “car radio”).”

Live, human-created music was almost universally received positively (think buskers playing music that’s not your style), whereas recorded music choices were seen as negative, unless the person was choosing to listen to their own recorded music or favorite radio station.

Conclusion: Your music is noise, my music fills the world with what I love to hear.

Image via Flickr User Bokah Burger.

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