Saturday, 19 November 2011

Objective Proficiency p 50. Julian Treasure: The 4 Ways Sound Affects Us. Extra Listening



Listen to the talk on the TED website.

Fill in the gaps

In this talk I would like to change your relationship with sound. First of all, most of the sound around us is 1__________, and 2_____________. (Traffic noise) We pretend that it doesn't exist. This habit of 3__________________ sound has meant that we are unconscious about it.

Sound is affecting us in four major ways and I'd like to raise them in your 4________________ today. First is physiological. (Loud alarm clocks) Sorry about that. I've just given you a shot of cortisol, your 5_________/ __________ hormone. Sounds are affecting your hormone 6_____________ all the time, but also your breathing, your heart rate and your 7___________________.

It's not just unpleasant sounds like that that do it. This is 8_________. (Ocean waves) It has the frequency of 9___________ 12 cycles per minute. Most people find that very 10_____________. It is similar to the frequency of the breathing of a sleeping human. There is a deep 11_____________ with being at rest. We also associate it with being stress-free and on holiday.

Secondly, sound affects us psychologically. Music is the most powerful form of sound that we know that affects our emotional state. (Albinoni's Adagio) This is 12_____________ to make most of you feel pretty sad if I leave it on. Nevertheless other sounds can also affect your emotions. 13_____________, for example, is a sound which most people find 14______________. (Birds chirping (Sp. piar)).

Thirdly, sound affects us is 15______________. We have a very small amount of 16_____________ for processing auditory input, which is why noise like this -- (Office noise) -- is extremely damaging for productivity. If you have to work in an 17_____________ office like this, your productivity is greatly reduced.

The fourth way in which sound affects us is behaviourally. With so much going on, it is no surprise that our behaviour changes. (Techno music inside a car) So, ask yourself: Is this person ever going to drive at a 18__________ 28 miles per hour? I don't think so. Basically, we move away from unpleasant sound and move towards pleasant ones. So were I to play this -- (Jackhammer) -- for more than a few seconds, you'd feel uncomfortable; for more than a few minutes, you'd be leaving the room in 19_____________.

Moreover,  most 20___________ sound is inappropriate and accidental, and even hostile, and it has a dramatic effect on sales. We all have done it, leaving the area because the sound in there is so 21___________.

I want to spend just a moment talking about the model that we've developed, which allows us to start at the top and look at the drivers of sound, analyze the 22______________ and then predict the four 23____________ I've just talked about.

Music is the most powerful sound there is, often inappropriately 24_____________. It's powerful for two reasons. You recognize it fast, and you associate it very powerfully. And unfortunately it's 25_____________ commercial spaces, often inappropriately.

I would like to talk about brands for a moment, because some of you 26________ brands. Every brand is out there making sound right now. And every brand needs to have 27_____________ at the centre. (Intel ad jingle) You all recognize that one. (Nokia ringtone) This is the most-played tune in the world today. 1.8 billion times a day, that tune is played. And it cost Nokia absolutely nothing.

Finally, I would like to leave you with four golden rules, for those of you who run businesses, for commercial sound. First, make it 28______________, pointing in the same direction as your visual communication. That increases impact by over 1,100 percent. If your sound is pointing the opposite direction,29____________, you reduce impact by 86 percent. Secondly, make it appropriate to the situation. Thirdly, make it valuable. Give people something with the sound. Don't just bombard them with stuff. And, finally, test and test it again. Sound is complex. There are many 30______________ influences. It can be a bit like a bowl of spaghetti: sometimes you just have to eat it and see what happens.

If you're listening consciously, you can take control of the sound around you. It's good for your health. It's good for your productivity. Thank you for 31____________ me your ears today. 

 KEY
1. accidental



2. unpleasant



3. suppressing



4. consciousness



5. fight/ flight (the instinctive physiological response to a threatening situation, which readies one either to resist forcibly or to run away.)



6. secretions 



7. brainwaves 



8. surf 



9. roughly 



10. soothing (having a gently calming effect. E.g. she put on some soothing music).



11. resonance (/ˈrezənəns/ the power to evoke enduring images, memories, and emotions. E.g. the concepts lose their emotional resonance).



12. guaranteed 



13. Birdsong (the musical sounds made by birds. E.g. The woods were full of sunlight and birdsong.)



14. reassuring (/ˌriːəˈʃʊərɪŋ/ /ˌriːəˈʃɔːrɪŋ/ making you feel less worried or uncertain about something. Sp. tranquilizador. E.g. a reassuring smile. It's reassuring (to know) that we've got the money if necessary.)



15. cognitively



16. bandwidth (the energy or mental capacity required to deal with a situation. E.g. he lives alone, and says he doesn’t have the bandwidth to handle a steady relationship)



17. open-plan (an open-plan building or area does not have inside walls dividing it up into rooms. E.g. an open-plan office)



18. steady (not changing, regular)



19. droves (drove: a large number of people or animals, often moving or doing something as a group. E.g.
droves of tourists. People were leaving the countryside in droves to look for work in the cities.)



20. retail (the selling of goods to the public)



21. dreadful



22. soundscape (The sounds heard in a particular location, considered as a whole.)



23. outcomes (the way a thing turns out; a consequence. E.g. it is the outcome of the vote that counts)



24. deployed (deploy: to use something effectively. E.g. to deploy arguments/ resources)



25. veneering (cover or disguise (someone or something’s true nature) with an attractive appearance.) 



26. run (to be in charge of a business, etc. to run a hotel/ store/ language school)



27. guidelines (rules or instructions) 



28. congruent (congruent (with something) (formal) suitable for something; appropriate in a particular situation. E.g. The measures are congruent with the changes in management policy.)



29. incongruent (incompatible, does not fit)



30. countervailing (having an equal but opposite effect. Compensating. Sp. Compensatorio. E.g. the dominance of the party was mediated by a number of countervailing factors) 



31. lending 

 

Transcript
Over the next five minutes, my intention is to transform your relationship with sound. Let me start with the observation that most of the sound around us is accidental, and much of it is unpleasant. (Traffic noise) We stand on street corners, shouting over noise like this, and pretending that it doesn't exist. Well, this habit of suppressing sound has meant that our relationship with sound has become largely unconscious.

There are four major ways sound is affecting you all the time, and I'd like to raise them in your consciousness today. First is physiological. (Loud alarm clocks) Sorry about that. I've just given you a shot of cortisol, your fight/flight hormone. Sounds are affecting your hormone secretions all the time, but also your breathing, your heart rate -- which I just also did -- and your brainwaves.

It's not just unpleasant sounds like that that do it. This is surf. (Ocean waves) It has the frequency of roughly 12 cycles per minute. Most people find that very soothing, and, interestingly, 12 cycles per minute is roughly the frequency of the breathing of a sleeping human. There is a deep resonance with being at rest. We also associate it with being stress-free and on holiday.

The second way in which sound affects you is psychological. Music is the most powerful form of sound that we know that affects our emotional state. (Albinoni's Adagio) This is guaranteed to make most of you feel pretty sad if I leave it on. Music is not the only kind of sound, however, which affects your emotions.

Natural sound can do that too. Birdsong, for example, is a sound which most people find reassuring. (Birds chirping) There is a reason for that. Over hundreds of thousands of years we've learned that when the birds are singing, things are safe. It's when they stop you need to be worried.

The third way in which sound affects you is cognitively. You can't understand two people talking at once ("If you're listening to this version of") ("me you're on the wrong track.") or in this case one person talking twice. Try and listen to the other one. ("You have to choose which me you're going to listen to.")

We have a very small amount of bandwidth for processing auditory input, which is why noise like this -- (Office noise) -- is extremely damaging for productivity. If you have to work in an open-plan office like this, your productivity is greatly reduced. And whatever number you're thinking of, it probably isn't as bad as this. (Ominous music) You are one third as productive in open-plan offices as in quiet rooms. And I have a tip for you. If you have to work in spaces like that, carry headphones with you, with a soothing sound like birdsong. Put them on and your productivity goes back up to triple what it would be.

The fourth way in which sound affects us is behaviourally. With all that other stuff going on, it would be amazing if our behaviour didn't change. (Techno music inside a car) So, ask yourself: Is this person ever going to drive at a steady 28 miles per hour? I don't think so. At the simplest, you move away from unpleasant sound and towards pleasant sounds. So if I were to play this -- (Jackhammer) -- for more than a few seconds, you'd feel uncomfortable; for more than a few minutes, you'd be leaving the room in droves. For people who can't get away from noise like that, it's extremely damaging for their health.

And that's not the only thing that bad sound damages. Most retail sound is inappropriate and accidental, and even hostile, and it has a dramatic effect on sales. For those of you who are retailers, you may want to look away before I show this slide. They are losing up to 30 percent of their business with people leaving shops faster, or just turning around on the door. We all have done it, leaving the area because the sound in there is so dreadful.

I want to spend just a moment talking about the model that we've developed, which allows us to start at the top and look at the drivers of sound, analyze the soundscape and then predict the four outcomes I've just talked about. Or start at the bottom, and say what outcomes do we want, and then design a soundscape to have a desired effect. At last we've got some science we can apply. And we're in the business of designing soundscapes.

Just a word on music. Music is the most powerful sound there is, often inappropriately deployed. It's powerful for two reasons. You recognize it fast, and you associate it very powerfully. I'll give you two examples. (First chord of The Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night") Most of you recognize that immediately. The younger, maybe not. (Laughter) (First two notes of "Jaws" theme) And most of you associate that with something! Now, those are one-second samples of music. Music is very powerful. And unfortunately it's veneering commercial spaces, often inappropriately. I hope that's going to change over the next few years.

Let me just talk about brands for a moment, because some of you run brands. Every brand is out there making sound right now. There are eight expressions of a brand in sound. They are all important. And every brand needs to have guidelines at the centre. I'm glad to say that is starting to happen now. (Intel ad jingle) You all recognize that one. (Nokia ringtone) This is the most-played tune in the world today. 1.8 billion times a day, that tune is played. And it cost Nokia absolutely nothing.

Just leave you with four golden rules, for those of you who run businesses, for commercial sound. First, make it congruent, pointing in the same direction as your visual communication. That increases impact by over 1,100 percent. If your sound is pointing the opposite direction, incongruent, you reduce impact by 86 percent. That's an order of magnitude, up or down. This is important. Secondly, make it appropriate to the situation. Thirdly, make it valuable. Give people something with the sound. Don't just bombard them with stuff. And, finally, test and test it again. Sound is complex. There are many countervailing influences. It can be a bit like a bowl of spaghetti: sometimes you just have to eat it and see what happens.

So I hope this talk has raised sound in your consciousness. If you're listening consciously, you can take control of the sound around you. It's good for your health. It's good for your productivity. If we all do that we move to a state that I like to think will be sound living in the world. I'm going to leave you with a little bit more birdsong. (Birds chirping) I recommend at least five minutes a day, but there is no maximum dose. Thank you for lending me your ears today. (Applause)

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