Getting to grips with noise


With International Noise Awareness Day coming up on 25 April, it’s a good time to think about noise: what it is, and what we can do about it.

According to the government’s Noise Policy Statement, ‘sound only becomes noise (often defined as ‘unwanted sound’) when it exists in the wrong place or at the wrong time’ causing harmful effects like annoyance or sleep disturbance.

The composer John Cage took a more Zen approach. ‘Wherever we are, what we hear is mostly noise. When we ignore it, it disturbs us. When we listen to it, we find it fascinating.’ So, he proposed finding intrigue and reward rather than frustration in the noise we can’t control.

At Dotmaker Tours we’re fascinated by noise. That’s why we’ve revised the The London Ear walk to take place during the week. It’s a chance to unplug our ears and tune into the urban din that we usually try to ignore. We’ll enjoy the chance collisions of sounds, and consider how we might better control the ‘needless noise’. We’ll find out about historic sounds we have lost, and consider what London might sound like in the future.

We’re leading the weekday London Ear on Wednesday 2 May, 5.30-7.30pm; Wednesday 16 May, 12.45-2.45pm; Tuesday 12 June, 5.30-7.30pm; and Wednesday 17 October, 12.45-2.45pm. Tickets are available from Eventbrite.  The walk is also available at other times to private groups such as students and corporates.