Cover image for Acoustic communication
Acoustic communication
Truax, Barry.
Personal Author:
Second edition.
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Ablex, [2001]

Physical Description:
xxvi, 284 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm + 1 computer optical disc (4 3/4 in.).

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QC225.15 .T78 2001 Book and Software Set Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Since the first edition was published seventeen years ago social and technical changes have altered the world of acoustic communication. This book draws upon many traditional disciplines that deal with specific aspects of sound, and presents material within an interdisciplinary framework. It establishes a model for understanding all acoustic and aural experiences both in their traditional forms and as they have been radically altered in the 20th century, Digital technology has completely redefined the listening and consumption patterns of sound. We are now able to benefit from the march of technology via a companion CD-ROM, which accompanies this volume for the first time.

Author Notes

Barry Truax is a Professor in both the School of Communication and the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Truax attempts to describe in the most general terms the interdependence of sound sources, the surrounding environment, and the listener. His two major areas of discussion therefore are communication through sound and the natural impediments to such communication (principally noise), and improvements in communication, which may be passive (acoustic design) or active (electroacoustic techniques). Although typical treatises on acoustics usually emphasize the transfer of acoustic power, this one emphasizes the transfer of information and is more concerned with philosophy than with technology. It is well written, with many bibliographic references, but more illustrations would ease our understanding. There are not many other books available in this field; R.M. Schafer's The Tuning of the World (CH, Dec '77) is probably the best. In addition to its general interest, Truax's book would be most suitable as a graduate-level reference source for musicians and urban designers.-H.C. Roberts, University of Colorado

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
Handbook for Acoustic Ecology: CD-ROM Editionp. xiii
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Introduction to the First Editionp. xvii
I. Sound, Listening, and Soundscape
1. Acoustic Tradition and the Communicational Approach: Energy Transfer and Information Processingp. 3
The Energy Transfer Modelp. 4
Signal Processingp. 9
A Communicational Approachp. 11
2. The Listenerp. 15
Hearing and Listeningp. 15
Listening to the Pastp. 19
Listening-in-Search and Listening-in-Readinessp. 21
Background Listening and the Keynote Soundp. 24
Listener Preferences and Attitudesp. 27
3. Voice and Soundmakingp. 33
Voice and the Whole Personp. 34
Paralanguagep. 38
Soundmaking in Pairs and Groupsp. 42
4. Systems of Acoustic Communication: Speech, Music, and Soundscapep. 49
The Continuump. 50
The Modelp. 55
The Brainp. 59
5. The Acoustic Communityp. 65
Characteristics of the Acoustic Communityp. 66
Variety, Complexity, and Balancep. 76
Some Case Studiesp. 83
6. Noise and the Urban Soundscapep. 93
Noise and Acoustic Communicationp. 94
Interlude: The "Deaf Spots" of Noisep. 98
The Path Toward Changep. 105
7. Acoustic Designp. 109
Variety and Coherencep. 110
Conclusionp. 115
II. Electroacoustics--The Impact of Technology on Acoustic Communication
8. Electroacoustic Communication: Breaking Constraintsp. 121
The New Tools: Extensions or Transformations?p. 123
Space and Loudnessp. 125
Time and Repetitionp. 128
Objectification and Commodityp. 131
Schizophoniap. 134
9. Electrification: The New Soundscapep. 137
Redundancy and Uniformityp. 137
Dynamic Behaviorp. 142
Response Characteristicsp. 145
Analog and Digitalp. 153
10. The Listener As Consumerp. 159
Extension and Simplificationp. 160
Analytical and Distracted Listeningp. 163
Consumerismp. 170
11. The Electroacoustic Media: Audio Mediationp. 177
Form and Content in Radiop. 179
Radio Structurep. 181
Characteristics of Radio Formatsp. 200
12. The Acoustic Community As Marketp. 205
Redefinition of the Acoustic Communityp. 205
Electroacoustic Sound in the Communityp. 207
The International Audio Industryp. 213
13. Regaining Control: Electroacoustic Alternativesp. 217
Recording and the Document in Soundp. 218
Text-Sound, Electroacoustic Music, and the Soundscape Compositionp. 227
Conclusionp. 241
14. Electroacoustic Designp. 243
Principles of Electroacoustic Designp. 244
Design of the Compositional Systemp. 250
Conclusionp. 256
Discographyp. 259
Referencesp. 263
Indexp. 277