Have We Found the Line Between Sound and Noise?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


A quiet moment in New Orleans has very little white noise. If you are on the streets of the French Quarter you can hear traffic, layered on dixieland, dancing, street life and the boisterous sounds of restaurants, clubs and bars.

New Orleans is a city of sound – or is it a din of noise? When does the jazz band cease to be music and become an oppressive force assaulting city dwellers? Sorting noise from music, street soundtrack from din is an old argument. With technology we can try and win that argument all on our own. Noise can be cancelled with fancy new headphones. But what are they cancelling and is the cancelling of noise also the erasing of culture? 

Megan Garber, a staff writer at the Atlantic has some thoughts on technology, noise and noise cancelling in a city where not even Hurricane Katrina cancelled Mardi Gras. She's wrote about sound in her piece for The Atlantic called "Sonic Boom: How digital technology is transforming our relationship with sound."

Record the sounds of your city or town and tell us is it "noise" or is it "sound"? You can email us an mp3 of your recording at takeawayaudio@gmail.com




Megan Garber

Produced by:

Tim Einenkel


Allie Ferguson

Comments [4]

Betty from Top Coast

Too conflicting for a comment.
My issue is with loud neighbors.
What happened to the golden rule; maybe broken once in a blue moon. But not on a regular basis.
We live on great sized lots,but unfortunately noisy endless,care taking of those lots.

The US is blessed w fantastic engineering schools, we cannot sit outside and enjoy the fruits of Gods and our labor due to the nasty chidings of foreign produced cheap lawn/garden equipment which really shouldn't be running on expensive gas
Come on engineering schools/american companies put out some Affordable, quieter, less energy consuming products.
I think legalizing goats for yard care is a time whose come!

May. 27 2014 02:18 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

There's an old record label that recorded some songs as they fried bacon in the studio. It makes me laugh. I wouldn't want to hear the song without those pops and sizzles.

May. 27 2014 01:31 PM

One person's sense of "communion and fellowship" can be another's torture. But it seems, if you live in a city, you have to accept that loud noises will always be present.

May. 27 2014 10:03 AM
Corinna Moebius from Miami, FL

When I lived in Washington, DC beginning in 1998, I became a regular at the drummings in Malcolm X Park (officially Meridian Hill Park). For nearly thirty years prior, drummings had brought together African-Americans, Africans and Latino Afrodescendents for a kind of communion and fellowship in a city that was increasingly gentrifying and changing, forcing many long-time residents to move away. The gathering wasn't just about sharing rhythms. It was deeper than that -- a kind of holding on. But then new condo owners moved in around the park and wanted to ban the decades-long tradition. We were fortunate enough to organize and prevent this from happening, but I've also experienced this threat to drummings in Miami, Florida, where I live now. About a year ago, a handful of new residents wanted to stop the drummings in the heart of Calle Ocho, in Little Havana. I can't help but notice how complaints of "noise" are used against gatherings of people of African descent.

May. 27 2014 09:18 AM

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