This book is about how you listen and what you hear, about how to have a dialogue with the sounds around you. Marcia Jenneth Epstein gives readers the impetus and the tools to understand the sounds and noise that define their daily lives in this groundbreaking interdisciplinary study of how auditory stimuli impact both individuals and communities. Epstein employs scientific and sociological perspectives to examine noise in multiple contexts: as a threat to health and peace of mind, as a motivator for social cohesion, as a potent form of communication and expression of power. She draws on a massive base of specialist literature from fields as diverse as nursing and neuroscience, sociology and sound studies, acoustic ecology and urban planning, engineering, anthropology, and musicology, among others, synthesizing and explaining these findings to evaluate the ubiquitous effects of sound in everyday life. Epstein investigates speech and music as well as noise and explores their physical and cultural dimensions. Ultimately she argues for an engaged public dialogue on sound, built on a shared foundation of critical listening, and provides the understanding for all of us to speak and be heard in such a discussion. Sound and Noise is a timely evaluation of the noise that surrounds us, how we hear it, and what we can do about it.
Marcia Jenneth Epstein is a musicologist and historian at the University of Calgary.