The Sound Agency News: City soundscape aims to raise health and lower crime

November 15th, 2011
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The Sound Agency has brought the relaxing sounds of nature and calming music to the City of Lancaster in California, in a soundscape aimed at encouraging a heightened sense of wellbeing.

The soundscape was the idea of the city’s Mayor R Rex Parris after he became interested in The Sound Agency’s approach of designing generative soundscapes to produce defined psycho-physiological effects. Mayor Parris saw the opportunity to improve wellbeing and lower crime rates by installing a relaxing soundscape for walkers along Lancaster’s half mile pedestrian precinct, recently renamed BLVD. The soundscape includes birdsong to produce a feeling of security, gentle water to evoke purity and serenity, and music at half the speed of the typical human heartbeat to entrain people down to a slower pace of movement. You can hear a short sample of it here.

The soundscape plays for five hours on weekdays – from 9 to 11 am and then again from 1 to 4 pm – from more than 70  loudspeakers mounted on poles above BLVD’s central parking spaces or hidden inside small green covers among plants along the sidewalk. Media interest has been intense in the USA, with the installation being covered in the press, radio and even on prime time TV. Reaction from the citizens of Lancaster has been very positive. “I love it. I really do. I wish I could get (the soundtrack) in my store,” said Lisa Ballentine, owner of a formalwear shop called ‘It’s a Queen Thing’.

We watch with interest to see how well the beautiful soundscape achieves Mayor Parris’s admirable goals to improve quality of life in Lancaster.

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