"Where musics divide us, sound brings us together " Michel Risse
None among us, whether they be rich or poor, illiterate or learned, young or old, can break away from their sound environment. While each social group has its favorite music, which it can recognize, comment upon, or sometimes play and while the "other's music" is an undesirable "noise" which is sometimes cast away, even hatefully, the sound environment is a collective world, an invisible but indisputable one perceived by all.
Originating in the 1970’s, “acoustic ecology” is a logical echo (!) of a notion of ecology, at its inception, “…the science of the relations of organisms with the surrounding world, which means in a broader sense, the science of the conditions of existence” (Haeckel, 1866); then, by extension, “the study of reciprocal relations between man and his moral, social, and economic environment. The human communities and societies live in an environment to which they adapt and which reacts upon them.” (Golfin, 1972). In the continuity of these notions, implying the notions equilibrium and harmony, sound ecology attempts to take into account the factual and quantitative elements as much as the more qualitative elements of the acoustics of our environment’s sound aesthetic. Still barely shared or explored, it is thus a domain where the exact and natural sciences, the humanities, and artistic creation come together.
While some may still smile at the term ecology, the real menace of an exhaustion of the planet’s natural resources and an upheaval of its ecological equilibrium by human activities leads us to change our behavior little by little (sort our recycling, avoid wasting water, be careful about what we throw out into nature…). It comes down to a vital individual commitment, with the knowing that each passive act, each feeling of hopelessness only brings us closer to our loss. The idea of sound ecology is a part of this same commitment. As soon as we come to the consciousness that our sound environment is not just an endured fatality, but that we are all authors and that this environment has deep and lasting effects on society, our behaviors and our way of listening to others and to the world can change, without waiting for incentive policies or legislative measures.