Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Sound Worlds of the School Children

Pupils of Strathdevon Primary School took part to Sound Preference Tests on Thursday 28th April. Many thanks to each and everyone who participated and filled out the forms about the sounds they like and dislike in Dollar.

Five liked and disliked sounds were inquired including where these sounds can be heard. These preliminary results are based on sounds that were written in the first row in the form and are thus presumably the ones that came first to respondents’ mind. More results will be posted in the near future.

The most liked sounds according to the 7 years old (27 pupils) were the sounds of the birds “in trees”, “in garden” and “everywhere”. Other sounds mentioned were quite diverse including rain, sounds of cars, rustling of the leaves and “barking in my house” (probably the pet dog). Music was liked both indoors and outdoors i.e. “in the car” and “Dollar Academy Band”, the latter referring to the bagpipe orchestra rehearsing outdoors during summer semester.

The most disliked sounds according to the 7 years old were the voices and human sounds: people shouting and screaming at school and home. Whispering in the house was not liked either, not to mention the siblings (“Sally asking me to play when I’m reading”). Disliked traffic included cars, lorries and engines. Other disliked sounds were wind on the window, turning pages as school, kettle boiling, cracking of glass and the all time non-favourite sound of most of the pupils probably all over the world: “nails on the blackboard”.

The most liked sounds according to the 10 to 11 years old (31 pupils) were the sounds of The Burn and the birds. Dollar Burn streams in the middle of the village and is quite audible close to Strathdevon Primary School as well. According to the answers the bird singing can be heard in Dollar almost everywhere. Other sounds mentioned were the rustling trees, cat purring at home and bees near flowers. Another liked sound was the opening doors of the bus at the bus stop.

The most disliked sound was traffic including loud engines. Voices and animal sounds were mentioned as well: shouting, crying babies and children, barking dogs and birds in the trees (sound that were actually liked very much, too). Signals such as ambulance sounds, alarm clock and car alarm were not liked either. Other sounds mentioned here were the sandpaper and rolling baskets in the Co-op, nails on chalkboard and the “gillotene at school” (a paper cutter, perhaps?)

According to preliminary results it seems that the bird singing was liked in both groups probably because you really cannot escape it in Dollar. Quite interestingly, the sound of the Burn was mentioned only once in the first group whereas the second group rated it very high. The disliked sounds of the first group were human sounds and voices that were replaced by the sounds of traffic in the second group. The sounds of the two age groups tell us that their everyday lives differ sonically quite a bit regarding the disliked sounds. The older ones pay more attention to the traffic sounds not present most of the time whereas the little ones are more sensitive to shouts, screams and cries around them. In the school environment the high-pitched sound of the chalkboard was equally disliked.

Please tell us, what you think. There will be more information coming in the future.

Heikki Uimonen

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Making Everyday Sounds More Audible

On Thursday sixteen pupils of Strathdevon Primary School volunteered to take part in morning sound walk. The participants aged of seven and eight were not only listening to their everyday sounds but also making sounds in the schoolyard in groups of fours. The sound examples here include different springtime sound sources and making of various sounds.

The pupils were asked to describe the making of the sounds to someone who is not there to see what they were actually doing. The few-minute soundwalks were recorded and edited to sound samples. As a result we have a very interesting compilation of rhythms and timbres of the sounds that usually go unnoticed: soft polystyrene foam, crisp packets, empty plastic bottles, railings, different surfaces under the feet, sounds of the swing and so on. 

Have fun with all the sounds and the comments! 

Heikki Uimonen    

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Homework Recording

Three 10-year-old students of Strathdevon Primary School, who took the sound preference test yesterday, agreed to take the handy recorders and earphones home with them. They were advised to document their soundscapes by searching for the sound they like and dislike without forgetting to tell their names and what they were recording to the microphone. In the next afternoon the results were introduced to the rest of the class who took part in telling their opinions on the sounds. The recordist themselves described where in Dollar the recordings were done and how they succeeded in their jobs.

It turned out, that besides the recording event a new and somewhat exiting sound-related experience was to hear one’s voice from the loudspeakers for the first time. So ladies and gentlemen: here are the contributions of the slightly blushing soundscape recording artists Finlay, Megan and Leah of Strathdevon Primary School in Dollar. They all did excellent job and probably we’ll be hearing more of them on this website in the near future.


Heikki Uimonen

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Sheep

Economy-related sounds of Dollar include agriculture, especially sheep farming. In the fifties the animals were sheared by hand before the electric motors replaced the manual and distinctive-sounding clippers. The sound signals associated with sheep-hearding are the whistles that are used to give orders to the dogs. Today you can spot the sheep grazing on the local Dollar Golf Club green to control the vegetation.

The bleating of the acoustic ecological lawnmowers pictured here on the wrong side of the fence is accompanied by the sounds of the birds, the Dollar Burn and the golfers.

Heikki Uimonen

Disliked Sounds and Innovative Thinking

Eco Newsletter March 2011 posted on the wall at the Strathdevon Primary School welcomed us by telling about the Quiet Garden. Now, this looked very promising for us, who were visiting school in order to inquire about the sound preferences of the pupils.

After two memorable meetings, here are a few examples from the young villagers of Dollar aged 10, 10 1/2, 10 3/4 and 11 when asked about sounds that they would like to change in Dollar.

“Lower the sound of engines” 
“The traffic at night”  
“My mom singing in the shower”
“I would like to change Justin Beeber [Bieber] singing voice”

And when there is a problem, there is a solution:
“Dogs barking a lot, dogs barking occasionally”
"The road drill - I would make it play a tune”
“The squeaky gate - silent”
“Hoover - I would make it play rap music”

Tomorrow it is time for the recordings and listening to the sound samples.

Heikki Uimonen 

Birds singing

As I´m following the Mill Green Walk, I hear birds cheerful singing in the picnic area near the Castle Road.
While climbing up to the glen I discover various songbirds as blackbird, sparrows and other birds I don´t unfortunately recognize.

The sheep are grazing nearby and the sun comfortably warms my face. No traffic sounds can be heard, other than an airplane flying above. Distant dog is barking and someones telephone ringing.

After noises in Edinburgh´s big and busy Princes Street, listening birds and the wind humming in the trees feels very pleasant.

Viika Sankila

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Closed Paths

The railroad line from Dollar to the nearby village of Tillicoultry was opened in 1869. It was told that a popular local character Peter Dudgeon’s impressive announcement Do-lar! carried all the way up to the Dollar Hill located 1,5 kilometres away from the station. The passenger traffic was discontinued in 1964 and the railway foundations turned in the pathway, at the moment being temporarily closed because of the improvement works. Here is Mike Jodeluk’s wonderful recording and comments on Dollar Railway track from the 1960s (with the courtesy of the Dollar Museum).

The discontinuation of the railway inevitably changed the soundscape of the rail yard: the foreground sounds of the signal box informing about the arriving train, the doors of the carriages slamming, the station master giving instructions, and the guard blowing his whistle were all replaced on one hand by nature sounds, on the other by sounds connected to contemporary way of living. The April soundscape of the old platform is today composed of the various birds in the middleground, passing airplane in the background and the humming garden trimmer/electric lawn mower in the foreground.

Heikki Uimonen

Soundscapes and Cultural Sustainability at the Dollar Museum on Thursday 28th April

Finnish research group have visited Dollar three times starting from 1999 following the path of the Canadian World Soundscape Project carrying out research here in 1975. The recently published book Acoustic Environments in Change / Five Village Soundscapes is including sounds and stories of this village. The book will be presented at the Dollar Museum on Thursday 28th April at 7.30 o’clock pm.

What is more important is that we would like to hear your impressions on our research. So anyone interested in sharing his or her thoughts of the past, present and future soundscapes of Dollar is welcomed to join us on Thursday. We will be there for you on Saturday 30th as well from 11am to 1pm and from 2pm to 4.30pm.

This Dollar’s research website will be updated daily by the Soundscapes and Cultural Sustainability group. Villagers are hereby invited to contribute the website, too.

See you soon
Heikki & Viika

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dear reader in Dollar

After eleven years we are here to discuss with you about the past, the present and the future soundscapes of Dollar one more time. This blog will be updated daily, meanwhile you can check out the stories from our previous visit here and to rest of the Five European Villages at Just click ‘enter’ and then ‘news archive’.

Here’s what happened 15th May 2000, 4 am.

“At quarter to four I packed my gear, put a microphone stand across my shoulder and headed to the centre of the Dollar where I was supposed to do my share of the 24-hour traffic count. While I reached my destination I realized that during the early morning hours the main road of Dollar was silent. Very, very silent.

For a shivering listener the only audible sounds were the wind that was blowing in the trees nearby, a few birds and a constant gurgle of a Dollar Burn. The stream's beautiful keynote sound is present almost everywhere in mainstreet while there are no other sounds masking it. Not a soul was in sight excluding the cat that was chasing dry leaves on the pavement. In a soundscape like this one feels a bit uncomfortable in making any sounds to disturb the sleeping village. Maybe that is the reason why the squeaking microphone stand sounded like a seagull on a quiet main road […]”

Hope to hear from you very soon!
Heikki & Viika
Tigh Ur B & B, a nice place with melodius gate

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dollar Blacksmith

Albert Mylne, the last blacksmith of Dollar, is describing how the villagers reacted to the sounds from his blacksmith shop. They were liked very much. The story of the Wilson sisters especially reveals how a soundscape competent person can tell a trained blacksmith by ear.