We are surrounded by sound 24-7. Some sounds, like music or birdsong, we choose ourselves to listen to, while others are bi products of processes in our immediate environment: traffic noises, the hissing from air conditionings or noise from household appliances.
Our sonic environment has changed dramatically in just a few generations. To the renaissance man, the surrounding sounds consisted predominantly of natural and man made sounds and a small portion from simple tools. Today the bulk of our soundscape is filled with sounds produced by various electric and mechanical products and processes and only a fraction are human or nature sounds. In comparison, biologically, we've hardly changed at all.
A large part of these artificial sounds describe a continuous and monotonous audio stream, rarely found in nature.
Pre-industrial sounds were dynamic, flowing, more human if you like, while theses modern day sounds are constant, never changing, and non dynamic. It is a well known fact that our perceptual capacity suffers in these conditions and you could state that these continuous noises, low in amplitude they may be, function as a sort of anti-intellectual drug.
To simply dampen or eliminate these sounds is no real solution. And even though tinnitus and loss of hearing is proof that we are increasingly exposed to harmful sound levels, we are affected just as much in environments which we regard as normal, especially concerning our capacity for concentration and creativity.
You have to see the whole picture.
If the total impact of all the elements in a room isn't considered you can actually
worsen the conditions for creative thinking.The best sonic environment is achieved through a dynamic interplay between all the acoustic properties of a room and the sound itself. This is created by first minimizing the inhearent noise, and then add sound with a positive impact. It should however be noted that we are equally affected by what's outside of our hearing range and not only what the brain register as audible sounds.
But we have only begun scratching the surface of this subject. For a continued increasing awareness of how sound affects us and how we can use sounds in a positive way, we need to learn more, and not just about sounds that are pleasing to the ear, it is equally important that we learn about the sounds that actually make us feel good and be properly functioning individuals.