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Qualitative Judgements of Urban Soundscapes: Questionning Questionnaires and Semantic Scales

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The present work aims at a qualitative analysis of various soundscapes in two French cities in order to evaluate and potentially improve urban development. The method employs an analysis of open-ended questions and of verbal comments and judgments on a semantic differential grid. On-site experiments were carried out in various urban locations of two French cities, such as main thoroughfares, pedestrian districts, playgrounds and market squares. Differential patterns were clearly seen from a histogram analysis of the differential grid, which points to the limits of an average calculation of the semantic scale. A psycholinguistic analysis of the verbal comments was carried out to explicate the heterogeneous judgements across people about temporal, spatial and activity appraisals that the quantitative data obscure. Such an analysis allowed us to differentiate two cognitive modes for representing urban soundscapes: (i) a "descriptive listening" mode which refers to the identification of acoustic sources or events; and (ii) a "holistic hearing" mode which refers to the soundscape as a whole, without semantic processing of any specific sources. Since the same physical phenomenon may be interpreted by two distinct cognitive representations, the results highlight the need for employing differential scales with a semantic analysis to improve qualitative judgement and to further elaborate new semantic as well as physical indicators based on community noise measurements.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2006

More about this publication?
  • Acta Acustica united with Acustica, published together with the European Acoustics Association (EAA), is an international, peer-reviewed journal on acoustics. It publishes original articles on all subjects in the field of acoustics, such as general linear acoustics, nonlinear acoustics, macrosonics, flow acoustics, atmospheric sound, underwater sound, ultrasonics, physical acoustics, structural acoustics, noise control, active control, environmental noise, building acoustics, room acoustics, acoustic materials, acoustic signal processing, computational and numerical acoustics, hearing, audiology and psychoacoustics, speech, musical acoustics, electroacoustics, auditory quality of systems. It reports on original scientific research in acoustics and on engineering applications. The journal considers scientific papers, technical and applied papers, book reviews, short communications, doctoral thesis abstracts, etc. In irregular intervals also special issues and review articles are published.
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