The World Soundscape Project (WSP)

The origins of acoustic ecology lie in Vancouver, Canada, at the Simon Frasier University (SFU). While teaching in the Communications Department at SFU in the late 1960’s, R. Murray Schafer started The World Soundscape Project (WSP). This was a team comprised of R. Murray Schafer, Barry Truax, Hildegard Westerkamp, Bruce Davis, Peter Huse, and Howard Broomfield. The team shared Schafer’s concerns about noise pollution and how rapidly the sonic landscape was changing in Vancouver, and wanted to investigate whether it was possible to educate in order to sustain a more natural sonic environment.

The Vancouver Soundscape 1973 was the first detailed study of the local environment, and proceeded a country-wide tour of Canada which comprised the Soundscapes of Canada in 1974.

As part of the continuing experiments and experiences, the group later repeated the same study to see if and how the shape of the sonic environment had changed in the time between recordings which was The Vancouver Soundscape 1996.

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The Vancouver Soundscapes are the commercial releases of the recordings made in the study of the soundscape and are available for purchase from the Simon Frasier University. They feature specific sites chosen by the WSP to produce a diverse and quality range of sound sources which accurate demonstrate the sound of the city, and how it has changed over time.

In 1975 the WSP started an investigation on a much larger scale in Europe, with a larger group of researchers, led by Schafer. The Five Village Soundscapes was spread across Sweden, Germany, Italy, France, and Scotland which contributed to a library of over 300 tapes, which was published as a sound diary and recently made available.

The original Vancouver Soundscape project was completed in 1978 when R. Murray Schafer’s Our Sonic Environment and the Soundscape: The Tuning of the World (1977), and Barry Truax’s Handbook for Acoustic Ecology (1978) were published.