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Posts Tagged ‘Julian Treasure

Architects: Design for the ear

Noise goes up, heart rate goes up.

Because of poor acoustics, students in classrooms miss 50% of what their teachers say and patients in hospitals have trouble sleeping because they continually feel stressed.

Julian Treasure sounds a call to action for designers to pay attention to the “invisible architecture” of sound.

This talk was presented at an official TED conference in 2012, and was featured by our editors on the home page.

Julian Treasure · Sound consultant studies sound and advises businesses on how best to use it.

It’s time to start designing for the ears.

Note 1: In Industrial engineering, there is a section called Human Factors in engineering. It deals with health and safety in workplaces, and product designs. Vision and acoustics are major issues, besides posture (Ergonomics). I was exposed to all these issues in my graduate studies and did a few experiments on degradation of health and safety in noisy environment.

Note 2: All architects, interior designers, urban planners, product designers must be exposed to the health and safety issues in the environment they are professionals in.

Ways to listen better

In our louder world, says sound expert Julian Treasure, “We are losing our listening.”

In this short, fascinating talk, Treasure shares five ways to re-tune your ears for conscious listening — to other people and the world around you.

Julian Treasure studies sound and advises businesses on how best to use it. Full bio

Patsy Z and TEDxSKE shared a link.|By Julian Treasure

We are losing our listening. We spend roughly 60% of our communication time listening, but we’re not very good at it.

We retain just 25 percent of what we hear.

Let’s define listening as making meaning from sound. It’s a mental process, and it’s a process of extraction.

00:34 We use some pretty cool techniques to do this. One of them is pattern recognition. (Crowd Noise) So in a cocktail party like this, if I say, “David, Sara, pay attention,” some of you just sat up.

We recognize patterns to distinguish noise from signal, and especially our name.

Differencing is another technique we use. If I left this pink noise on for more than a couple of minutes, you would literally cease to hear it. We listen to differences, we discount sounds that remain the same.

And then there is a whole range of filters. These filters take us from all sound down to what we pay attention to. Most people are entirely unconscious of these filters. But they actually create our reality in a way, because they tell us what we’re paying attention to right now.

Give you one example of that: Intention is very important in sound, in listening. When I married my wife, I promised her that I would listen to her every day as if for the first time. Now that’s something I fall short of on a daily basis. (Laughter) But it’s a great intention to have in a relationship.

But that’s not all. Sound places us in space and in time.

If you close your eyes right now in this room, you’re aware of the size of the room from the reverberation and the bouncing of the sound off the surfaces. And you’re aware of how many people are around you because of the micro-noises you’re receiving.

And sound places us in time as well, because sound always has time embedded in it. In fact, I would suggest that our listening is the main way that we experience the flow of time from past to future. So, “Sonority is time and meaning” — a great quote.

I said at the beginning, we’re losing our listening. Why did I say that? Well there are a lot of reasons for this.

First of all, we invented ways of recording — first writing, then audio recording and now video recording as well.

The premium on accurate and careful listening has simply disappeared.

Secondly, the world is now so noisy, (Noise) with this cacophony going on visually and auditorily, it’s just hard to listen; it’s tiring to listen.

Many people take refuge in headphones, but they turn big, public spaces like this, shared soundscapes, into millions of tiny, little personal sound bubbles. In this scenario, nobody’s listening to anybody.

We’re becoming impatient. We don’t want oratory anymore, we want sound bites. And the art of conversation is being replaced — dangerously, I think — by personal broadcasting.

I don’t know how much listening there is in this conversation, which is sadly very common, especially in the U.K. We’re becoming desensitized. Our media have to scream at us with these kinds of headlines in order to get our attention. And that means it’s harder for us to pay attention to the quiet, the subtle, the understated.

03:31 This is a serious problem that we’re losing our listening. This is not trivial. Because listening is our access to understanding. Conscious listening always creates understanding.

And only without conscious listening can these things happen — a world where we don’t listen to each other at all, is a very scary place indeed.

So I’d like to share with you five simple exercises, tools you can take away with you, to improve your own conscious listening. Would you like that?

1. The first one is silence. Just three minutes a day of silence is a wonderful exercise to reset your ears and to recalibrate so that you can hear the quiet again. If you can’t get absolute silence, go for quiet, that’s absolutely fine.

2. Second, I call this the mixer. So even if you’re in a noisy environment like this — and we all spend a lot of time in places like this — listen in the coffee bar to how many channels of sound can I hear? How many individual channels in that mix am I listening to?

You can do it in a beautiful place as well, like in a lake. How many birds am I hearing? Where are they? Where are those ripples? It’s a great exercise for improving the quality of your listening.

3. Third, this exercise I call savoring, and this is a beautiful exercise. It’s about enjoying mundane sounds. This, for example, is my tumble dryer. (Dryer) It’s a waltz. One, two, three. One, two, three. One, two, three. I love it. Or just try this one on for size. (Coffee grinder) Wow! So mundane sounds can be really interesting if you pay attention. I call that the hidden choir. It’s around us all the time.

4. The next exercise is probably the most important of all of these, if you just take one thing away. This is listening positions the idea that you can move your listening position to what’s appropriate to what you’re listening to. This is playing with those filters. Do you remember, I gave you those filters at the beginning. It’s starting to play with them as levers, to get conscious about them and to move to different places. These are just some of the listening positions, or scales of listening positions, that you can use. There are many. Have fun with that. It’s very exciting.

5. And finally, an acronym. You can use this in listening, in communication. If you’re in any one of those roles — and I think that probably is everybody who’s listening to this talk — the acronym is RASA, which is the Sanskrit word for juice or essence.

And RASA stands for Receive, which means pay attention to the person; Appreciate, making little noises like “hmm,” “oh,” “okay”; Summarize, the word “so” is very important in communication; and Ask, ask questions afterward.

Now sound is my passion, it’s my life. I wrote a whole book about it. So I live to listen. That’s too much to ask from most people.

But I believe that every human being needs to listen consciously in order to live fully — connected in space and in time to the physical world around us, connected in understanding to each other, not to mention spiritually connected, because every spiritual path I know of has listening and contemplation at its heart.

06:53 That’s why we need to teach listening in our schools as a skill. Why is it not taught? It’s crazy. And if we can teach listening in our schools, we can take our listening off that slippery slope to that dangerous, scary world that I talked about and move it to a place where everybody is consciously listening all the time — or at least capable of doing it.

Now I don’t know how to do that, but this is TED, and I think the TED community is capable of anything. So I invite you to connect with me, connect with each other, take this mission out and let’s get listening taught in schools, and transform the world in one generation to a conscious listening world — a world of connection, a world of understanding and a world of peace.

Want people to listen? Learn how to speak

The human voice: It’s the instrument we all play.

It’s the most powerful sound in the world, probably. It’s the only one that can start a war or say “I love you.”

And yet many people have the experience that when they speak, people don’t listen to them. And why is that?

How can we speak powerfully to make change in the world?

0:32 What I’d like to suggest, there are a number of habits that we need to move away from.

I’ve assembled for your pleasure here 7 deadly sins of speaking. I’m not pretending this is an exhaustive list, but these seven, I think, are pretty large habits that we can all fall into.

First, gossip. Speaking ill of somebody who’s not present. Not a nice habit, and we know perfectly well the person gossiping, five minutes later, will be gossiping about us.

Second, judging. We know people who are like this in conversation, and it’s very hard to listen to somebody if you know that you’re being judged and found wanting at the same time.

Third, negativity. You can fall into this. My mother, in the last years of her life, became very negative, and it’s hard to listen. I remember one day, I said to her, “It’s October 1 today,” and she said, “I know, isn’t it dreadful?” (Laughter) It’s hard to listen when somebody’s that negative.

And another form of negativity, complaining.

Well, this is the national art of the U.K. It’s our national sport. We complain about the weather, sport, about politics, about everything, but actually, complaining is viral misery. It’s not spreading sunshine and lightness in the world.

Excuses.   Blamethrower

We’ve all met this guy. Maybe we’ve all been this guy. Some people have a blamethrower. They just pass it on to everybody else and don’t take responsibility for their actions, and again, hard to listen to somebody who is being like that.

Penultimate, the sixth of the seven, embroidery, exaggeration. It demeans our language, actually, sometimes. For example, if I see something that really is awesome, what do I call it? (Laughter) And then, of course, this exaggeration becomes lying, and we don’t want to listen to people we know are lying to us.

And finally, dogmatism. The confusion of facts with opinions. When those two things get conflated, you’re listening into the wind.

You know, somebody is bombarding you with their opinions as if they were true. It’s difficult to listen to that.

2:39 So here they are, seven deadly sins of speaking.

These are things I think we need to avoid. But is there a positive way to think about this? Yes, there is.

I’d like to suggest that there are 4 really powerful cornerstones, foundations, that we can stand on if we want our speech to be powerful and to make change in the world.

Fortunately, these things spell a word. The word is “hail,” and it has a great definition as well.

I’m not talking about the stuff that falls from the sky and hits you on the head. I’m talking about this definition, to greet or acclaim enthusiastically, which is how I think our words will be received if we stand on these four things.

So what do they stand for? See if you can guess.

The H, honesty, of course, being true in what you say, being straight and clear.

The A is authenticity, just being yourself. A friend of mine described it as standing in your own truth, which I think is a lovely way to put it.

The I is integrity, being your word, actually doing what you say, and being somebody people can trust.

And the L is love. I don’t mean romantic love, but I do mean wishing people well, for two reasons.

First of all, I think absolute honesty may not be what we want. I mean, my goodness, you look ugly this morning. Perhaps that’s not necessary. Tempered with love, of course, honesty is a great thing. But also, if you’re really wishing somebody well, it’s very hard to judge them at the same time. I’m not even sure you can do those two things simultaneously. So hail.

4:15 Also, now that’s what you say, and it’s like the old song, it is what you say, it’s also the way that you say it. You have an amazing toolbox.

This instrument is incredible, and yet this is a toolbox that very few people have ever opened. I’d like to have a little rummage in there with you now and just pull a few tools out that you might like to take away and play with, which will increase the power of your speaking.

  1. Register, for example. Now, falsetto register may not be very useful most of the time, but there’s a register in between. I’m not going to get very technical about this for any of you who are voice coaches. You can locate your voice, however.

So if I talk up here in my nose, you can hear the difference. If I go down here in my throat, which is where most of us speak from most of the time.

But if you want weight, you need to go down here to the chest.

You hear the difference? We vote for politicians with lower voices, it’s true, because we associate depth with power and with authority. That’s register.

2. We have timbre. It’s the way your voice feels. Again, the research shows that we prefer voices which are rich, smooth, warm, like hot chocolate. Well if that’s not you, that’s not the end of the world, because you can train. Go and get a voice coach.

And there are amazing things you can do with breathing, with posture, and with exercises to improve the timbre of your voice.

3. Then prosody. I love prosody. This is the sing-song, the meta-language that we use in order to impart meaning. It’s root one for meaning in conversation.

People who speak all on one note are really quite hard to listen to if they don’t have any prosody at all. That’s where the word “monotonic” comes from, or monotonous, monotone.

Also, we have repetitive prosody now coming in, where every sentence ends as if it were a question when it’s actually not a question, it’s a statement? (Laughter) And if you repeat that one, it’s actually restricting your ability to communicate through prosody, which I think is a shame, so let’s try and break that habit. 

(I noticed that American end their sentences as if they were questions. And people who wants to sound Americans imitate that habit)

6:20 Pace.

 I can get very excited by saying something really quickly, or I can slow right down to emphasize, and at the end of that, of course, is our old friend silence. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of silence in a talk, is there? We don’t have to fill it with ums and ahs. It can be very powerful.

Of course, pitch often goes along with pace to indicate arousal, but you can do it just with pitch. Where did you leave my keys? (Higher pitch) Where did you leave my keys? So, slightly different meaning in those two deliveries.

And finally, volume. (Loud) I can get really excited by using volume. Sorry about that, if I startled anybody.

Or, I can have you really pay attention by getting very quiet. Some people broadcast the whole time. Try not to do that. That’s called sodcasting, (Laughter) Imposing your sound on people around you carelessly and inconsiderately. Not nice.

Where this all comes into play most of all is when you’ve got something really important to do. It might be standing on a stage like this and giving a talk to people. It might be proposing marriage, asking for a raise, a wedding speech.

Whatever it is, if it’s really important, you owe it to yourself to look at this toolbox and the engine that it’s going to work on, and no engine works well without being warmed up. Warm up your voice.

7:46 Actually, let me show you how to do that.

Would you all like to stand up for a moment? I’m going to show you the 6 vocal warm-up exercises that I do before every talk I ever do.

Any time you’re going to talk to anybody important, do these.

First, arms up, deep breath in, and sigh out, ahhhhh, like that. One more time. Ahhhh, very good.

Now we’re going to warm up our lips, and we’re going to go Ba, Ba, Ba, Ba, Ba, Ba, Ba, Ba. Very good. And now, brrrrrrrrrr, just like when you were a kid. Brrrr. Now your lips should be coming alive.

We’re going to do the tongue next with exaggerated la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la. Beautiful. You’re getting really good at this. And then, roll an R. Rrrrrrr. That’s like champagne for the tongue.

Finally, and if I can only do one, the pros call this the siren. It’s really good. It starts with “we” and goes to “aw.” The “we” is high, the “aw” is low. So you go, weeeaawww, weeeaawww.  

8:58 Next time you speak, do those in advance.

Now let me just put this in context to close. This is a serious point here.

This is where we are now, right? We speak not very well to people who simply aren’t listening in an environment that’s all about noise and bad acoustics.

I have talked about that on this stage in different phases. What would the world be like if we were speaking powerfully to people who were listening consciously in environments which were actually fit for purpose?

Or to make that a bit larger, what would the world be like if we were creating sound consciously and consuming sound consciously and designing all our environments consciously for sound?

That would be a world that does sound beautiful, and one where understanding would be the norm, and that is an idea worth spreading.

Patsy Z shared this link.

Want others to listen to you? 4 things you need to do:

The how-to’s of powerful speaking — from handy vocal exercises to tips on how to speak with empathy.|By Julian Treasure




January 2023

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