Music Department
University of Victoria
British Columbia


Research Creation Using Infrasonic and Ultrasonic Sound


Previous projects in acoustic ecology include educational initiatives, urban planning, noise regulation, and acoustic design. For example, an acoustic ecologist may work to assist landscape architects and other urban designers to consider the sonic environment when designing urban environments. I will add to this research by investigating where infrasonic (sound frequencies below 20Hz) and ultrasonic (sound frequencies above 20kHz) environmental pollution currently exists, and in relation to what types of human activity. I am particularly interested in how these sources of sonic pollution may have an effect on human health and wellbeing. Areas in proximity to aircraft, traffic, agricultural, wind turbine, and other industrial noise, have all previously been reported to produce infrasound. Humans can be exposed to ultrasound frequencies in a wide variety of public spaces, including railway stations, museums, libraries, schools and sports stadia.
This project determined where anthropogenic sources of infrasonic and ultrasonic sounds were present in specific areas of Greater Victoria, BC, Canada, through data collection and analysis via field recordings over a 4 month period. Using the Earthworks M50 omnidirectional acoustic measurement device, which has an ultra wide frequency response of 3Hz to 50kHz – wide enough to capture frequencies in the infrasonic and ultrasonic spectrums, I analyzed locations in Victoria that have previously been reported to contain these frequencies, such as near highways, aircrafts, industrial activity, and anti-loitering devices. The results from this project were disseminated in a creative work that was designed using Max/MSP/Jitter and Open GL, with the intent of communicating in a meaningful way the significance of these frequencies in our everyday lives, by allowing people to experience and hear the kind of inaudible noise that is created from human sources all around them.

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