Noise in the City

February 28, 2019

Hugh Davies, Karl Raab, Hans Schmid & Barry Truax

Thursday, February 28, 6:00PM–8:00PM, Room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre

Sponsored by SFU's J.S. Woodsworth Chair in the Humanities

Is noise the price people must pay to live in urban areas? Noise from traffic: honking horns, emergency sirens, souped-up car engines, garbage trucks, blaring car music with bass vibrations, car alarms, and trucks backing up. Noise from construction: street/sidewalk repairs and home renovations. Noise from powered garden tools: lawn mowers, leaf blowers, mulchers, and chippers. Noise in restaurants and pubs where music is played so loud that patrons have to shout to their companions in order to be heard. Noise from the streets: yelling and obnoxiously loud talk when the bars close.

Environmental noise pollution is a problem throughout metro-Vancouver, which affects humanand animalhealth and behaviours. Join us to hear a panel of distinguished noise experts, followed by general discussion.


Dr. Hugh Davies, PhD, is an associate professor of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of British Columbia, an adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo, and an affiliated scientist with the Occupational Cancer Research Center in Toronto. Prof. Davies’ research examines chemical and physical hazards in the workplace and in the community and their effects on human health. He has researched the role of noise on human health for over 20 years, including the first “noise map” of a major Canadian city, and numerous papers examining the role of occupational and transport noise on the health of children and adults. Prof. Davies teaches occupational health, exposure assessment, epidemiology and research development in the UBC School of Population and Public Health. He is the past-chair of the Physiological Effects Team of the International Commission on the Biological Effects of Noise.

Dr. Karl Raab is an environmental health consultant and translator. An Austrian educated in the US, his career has included cancer research at McGill and indoor air quality projects for CMHC. In the 1970s, his environmental group in Montreal, STOP, launched the Canadian non-smokers' rights movement.

Mr. Hans Schmid had his compulsory schooling, apprenticeship and training in construction supervision in Lower Austria. He travelled, visited, lived or worked and volunteered in 38 different countries, as a substitute for an academic career. In 1968 he emigrated to Canada. He joined the Right to Quiet Society in 1985 and became actively involved in its work in 1988.

(Dr. Karl Raab and Mr. Hans Schmid will be co-presenting on "The soundscape: too often neglected and poorly understood")

Barry Truax is professor emeritus in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University where he taught courses in acoustic communication and electroacoustic music. He worked with the World Soundscape Project, edited its Handbook for Acoustic Ecology, and has published a book Acoustic Communication dealing with sound and technology. As a composer, Truax is best known for his work with the PODX computer music system which he has used for tape solo works, music theatre pieces and those with live performers or computer graphics. In 1991 his work, Riverrun, was awarded the Magisterium at the International Competition of Electroacoustic Music in Bourges, France. Truax’s multi-channel soundscape compositions are frequently featured in concerts and festivals around the world. Since his retirement in 2015, he has been the Edgard Varèse guest professor at the Technical University (Berlin), and guest composer at the 2016 BEAST Festival (Birmingham), as well as similar events in Hamburg, Lisbon, and Milan. He has guest edited two theme issues on soundscape composition for the Cambridge journal Organised Sound, and is co-editor of the Routledge Companion to Sounding Art.