Are we living in a Schizo-mediatic Environment?
"May the muse of Muzak rot in hell"
Are we condemned, in the near future, to live in a
low fidelity aural environment? : this is the
question posed by R. Murray Schafer in his book entitled "Music and the environment" (Universal
Edition # 26751).
In this work, the author postulates that we should stop fooling ourselves about the High-Fidelity quality of
our aural environment. In our hyper-mediatic world, dramatic visual effects are often favored over meaningful
sound events. Worse, walls of loud music makes us forget about the quality of a meaningful
Another drawback is that, since decades, audio-analgesic stimuli of over-equalized Muzak music
has conditioned us to feed our voracious needs to consume more and more goods, often
in order to reassure us from our neurosis.
The above illustration is self- explanatory... From primitive cultures till the dawn of our pre-industrial era, acute hearing and the faculty of interpretation of all sounds coming from the environment was of the utmost importance for human survival.
At that time, most pseudo-random sounds had a natural origin (i.e. waterfalls, rain, wind) : all other sounds were clearly segregated from the background noises and were interspersed with long silences: this was the golden age of Hi-Fi sounds!
Evidently, acute seeing was also
important : it confirmed, visually, the origin and the localization of a specific sound
in space/time : this enabled a rapid interpretation and reaction
in case of an alarm.
In the Middle-age, the sound of the Church bell dictated the daily rhythm of life of the community :
time to wake up, time to work, time to pray. Also, it sounded the alarm in case of war invasions
threatening the community.
In France, during that time, the "troubadours" entertained the public with their latest popular
songs, the "trouvères" entertained the chosen few with their witty prose accompanied with
refined music, while Gregorian chorals provided the necessary framework for, the so-called,
A Quest For Private Head-Space
From the post-industrial era to our present time,
the visual aspect of all information became more
and more prevalent over the hearing aspect. The advent of cyclical industrial noises relegated
natural pseudo-random noises to the inaudible background.
And it got worse...Sadly enough, we have nowadays a 1 : 1 ratio of background noises vs.
information! Indeed, real communication is on the verge of disappearing, once in for all, from our discourse and replaced by sneaky propaganda of all sorts. Due to our multi-tasking environment, we seldom have a passive attitude towards unsegregated data surrounding us : our inability to process and digest them meaningfully leads us to the point of a mental Schizo-mediatic saturation.
This situation leads to the entrenchment of individuals into a "head space" bubble (Walkman, Discman), in order to avoid being bombarded with unwanted aural information - and keep at the same time one's sanity more or less intact!