The NAS Blog

Sounding Brighton at White Night

6.00pm Saturday 29 October to 10.00am Sunday 30 October

Sounding Brighton 2011, as part of the contemporary, free arts festival, White Night, will be presenting several innovative, participatory installations aimed at encouraging members of the community to expand their creative engagement with sound. It will raise awareness of new possibilities for quality soundscapes through immersive sonic experiences, using artistic and musical interpretations. There will also be a programme of interactive lectures.  

Listen to Gloria Elliott on the subject - 19/10/2011 BBC Radio 4 Midweek

WEST STREET STORY – a 3D outdoor soundscape installation, transforming the atmosphere and ambience in the heart of Brighton’s cacophonous clubbing area 

The installation is being created by Martyn Ware of The Illustrious Company. Martyn, a founder member of The Human League and Heaven 17, is a musician committed to helping the public understand positive soundscaping. Situated in part of West Street, in the heart of Brighton’s night life, his installation will consist of two rows of speakers creating a 3D soundscape, through which people can walk. Martyn will present a combination of both recorded and live sounds from a kiosk at the side of the street. His soundscapes will present a contrast to the raucous disharmony so frequently heard in lively areas at night, and will be designed to connect with visitors to the area and residents, as well as those exiting the clubs. 

COME TOGETHER – a special event exploring ‘sound and rapport’, in Brighton University’s Sallis Benney Theatre, Grand Parade Campus

Audio from West Street Story, and live film footage of the crowds in the West Street area,will be broadcast by Driftwood Productions at Come Together. Here, psychobiologist and communications expert Dr Harry Witchel will facilitate three entertaining, interactive, masterclasses about Body Language, Music and Social Territory. These will enable participants to analyse the effects of the soundscape on the body language and behaviour of people in general, as well as those filmed during White Night. Dr Witchel, from Brighton and Sussex Medical School, is alsowell known as a media personality and body language commentator for Big Brother. He is author of You Are What You Hear.  

In the adjoining gallery, Brighton University is staging Sounding out the Museum – Peter Vogel Retrospective Exhibition, the first exhibition in the UK of Vogel’s pioneering and influential sound sculptures, which are activated by the movement, gestures and sound emanating from audiences as they enter the space.                                                                     


Julian Treasure and Dr John Drever, both sound experts, will run discussions, as part of a wider programme for White Night involving independent minded thinkers. They will demonstrate how certain sounds, which are fitting in one space, are disturbances in another.   

Julian Treasure of The Sound Agency will discuss Utopia Sounds: In our louder and louder world, he asks “Are we are losing our listening?” Julian will share ways to re-tune our ears for conscious listening – to other people and the world around us.  

In Creation Power, Dr John Drever from Goldsmiths, University of Londonwill illustrate how designers of gadgets and machines, and the individuals using them, should be aware of the impact of sounds associated with these products and the ways in which they affect people – and spaces.

BRIGHTON REMIXED: Soundscape installation, Imperial Arcade

Esther Springett, sound artist and facilitator, is working with Dv8 Training Brighton, who run innovative, creative and media based training for young people. Esther is helping a group of 16-18 year olds to explore their own soundscapes, listen in new ways and learn practical, technical skills, which will open up new opportunities for them in the creative industries. Their White Night soundscape installation, the culmination of this vocational based learning project, will feature their recordings ‘remixing the sounds of Brighton’, presented through an audiovisual display.

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Annoying Announcements – the Scourge of Public Transport

The level of noise on public transport is causing commuters increasing aggravation, anxiety and exasperation.

Stations, by their very nature, are huge bellows of engine emissions, announcements and people – not a place anyone expects to enjoy a quiet read. Everyone is alert, anticipating the arrival of a train, the next platform broadcast and the inevitable dread of “Delays”.

However, announcements are getting louder, more frequent, and shamefully redundant. Anyone who has managed to make it to the station is probably aware that it is best not to leave their bags unattended (if they intend to keep them), much as they in all probability managed to remember to lock their front door.

Anyone who needs reminding not to smoke on trains, almost certainly will not be deterred by an automated message, and the advice to have a bottle of water in hot weather may be a little too late when there is nowhere to buy such a drink on the tube.

I know I am not alone to be irritated by the intrusiveness and frequency of passenger announcements. Most of my fellow tube travelers however exclude themselves from the tirade of broadcasts by closing their ears off with earbuds and daydream to their chosen soundtrack. This may make their journey a little more manageable and less frenetic, but in the long-run, their hearing will suffer as they escalate the volume to drown out the ever-louder announcements. Next stop, tinnitus.

Information can be shared in a number of ways, and I am a big fan of good clear graphics and up to date visual broadcasts. We should leave the aural announcements for when we really have something some news – a bus on diversion, a closed tube station. Otherwise, if we’re running as scheduled, let’s just assume we can all cope with that, and if not, there are people around we can ask.

Which brings me on to my next point, no man is an island. If we continue to broadcast these inane “to do’s and not to do’s” we are discouraging human interaction and discourse, and good old fashioned paying attention one’s surroundings.  Personal responsibility is what is needed for us all to live shoulder to shoulder as cohesive citizens, not a nanny state that reminds us before, during and after every stop which bus we are on.

Surely we need to encourage independent thinking and resourcefulness, it is so much more satisfying than being told what to do all the time!

So, fight back and let us know your most annoying announcements. Of course there will always be the occasional comedy driver who will insist on breaking onto the airwaves with nothing better than “have a nice day!” but in the meantime, over to you, at “cashier number 11” . . .

Join the discussion about this topic on Facebook

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Question: How many parents and grandparents have bought their teenagers new, higher-capacity phones and mp3 players? And how many of them use these devices regularly?

Whilst we remind our teenagers of the very real dangers of crossing the road with their earphones blaring we very rarely get too much traction from giving them a lesson in hearing health. The perceived infallibility of youth, and their susceptibility to peer and marketing pressures make it hard for hearing health to be given too much thought.

However, the NAS work in schools with the Love Your Ears campaign to get 12 to 16 year olds to recognise the importance of hearing health has been a huge success. We are welcomed into the classroom, as an addition to the PSHE curriculum, to talk about the dangers of mp3 over-usage. With the support of audiologists, we demonstrate the function of the ear and explain its sensitivity and fragility. As part of the practical interaction we use specialized headphone readers, which allow students to test for themselves the output levels of their personal stereos.

Giving the teens an opportunity to talk about their personal stereo in a group, discussing volume levels and their impact on long-term hearing, has proved a very positive way of interacting on this sensitive issue. As a result the teens become engaged and aware of the potential dangers of prolonged mp3 usage and set an intention to reduce the time and volume of their exposure. In short, they embark on a journey to better Love their Ears!

Street Safety: listening to loud music whilst out and about poses huge risks to all road-users. The AA (Automobile Association) puts this in a clear and helpful way. ‘iPod oblivion – a trance like or zombie state entered by some people using Mp3 players, phones and electronic organizers on the move – can be lethal for pedestrians, cyclists and car drivers. It is thought that pedestrians’ lack of attention may be a factor in some of the 500 pedestrian deaths or 26,887 pedestrian casualties last year’
(source: AA Article)

These incidents would happen less often if pedestrians could hear the ambient sounds around them while listening to music without ruining their enjoyment, thus allowing users to remain fully aware of their surroundings. – if only there were such a product… well, you’re in luck.  Air Drives interactive headphones are audiologist approved for all day listening as they exceed the OHSA and House Ear Institute guidelines and allow the user to enjoy music whilst being aware of background sound and oncoming dangers.  You can order yours today from the NAS order line on 0844 571 9585 or email

Help us spread the word further and save more teenagers from noise induced hearing loss. The Love your Ears campaign is the only one of its kind, which specifically targets vulnerable teens and aims to prevent this teenage time bomb.

We rely on your donations and membership to further our commitment to preventative teenage hearing health – act now! Join our Facebook and Twitter communities.

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SoundScape Ezine – what it means to the NAS

Have you heard?

SoundScape has launched.

We have received many messages of thanks and support from people who have already explored SoundScape and enjoyed its articles and design – we look forward to hearing your thoughts.

If you have pre-registered you should be receiving a copy in your inbox any minute now!

If not, it is available here for all to read.  

SoundScape is the first publication of its kind and was born out of the current need to reconnect with the aural environment. Being aware of the sounds around us, their context and potential, is beneficial to everyone’s emotional, social and physical wellbeing.

The magazine brings to the fore technologies, strategies and products that believe in noise mitigation as a core benefit. It offers practical advice for those affected by noise as well as those who affect solutions to noise, whilst championing industry best-practice.

 This launch issue pulls into focus the work of real life heroes and warns of a ticking “time-bomb” that will destroy our current teenagers’ hearing if they do not learn to listen responsibly to their mp3 players. Also featured are perceptive opinion pieces on the state of domestic noise in Britain and the need to establish and protect sound ecosystems.

 Holistic and pragmatic, SoundScape perfectly reflects the ethos of the NAS. 

“SoundScape intelligently investigates the sounds that affect our lives. Professors, scientists, activists, designers, parliamentarians and public alike, share their views, experiences and hopes for the future of our aural ecology”, explains Gloria Elliott, NAS chief executive. “We are all affected by noise, and this publication puts the pollutant into context, bringing in to focus how we can positively change and enhance our soundscape, for the benefit of our health, work and community.”

Let us know what you think. Email us at

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Train your dog not to bark

If your dog barks constantly and is upsetting your neighbours, don’t wait for them to put in a complaint about you, do something about it now.

Every year the Noise Abatement Society receives many calls from members of the public complaining about dogs that bark constantly. It is a problem that can cause a lot of ill feeling between neighbours and in extreme cases can lead to a complaint to the local authorities or a report to the RSPCA, which may ultimately result in a Noise Abatement order.

It is natural for dogs to bark, it is how they communicate, but it is not natural for them to bark all the time and those that do behave in this way will have specific reasons for doing so – dogs that are left alone for long periods of time may be anxious or sad, bored or lonely, others may have been ‘programmed’ to think that if they bark then they will get some attention and some may simply be frustrated and in need of exercise.

In most cases excessive barking is not the dog’s fault – it is often a learned behaviour, caused by the, mostly unintentional, bad habits of their owners. However excessive barking is a behaviour that can be controlled or eliminated with some simple training. It may take time and dedication – you cannot expect your dog to break a lifetime habit in a few days – but you really can train your dog not to bark all the time. You will be happier, your dog will be happier and your neighbours will be happier.

For more information on training your dog not to bark visit the following websites:

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