Thursday, April 10, 2014

Noise: The sound carpet of South-East Asia

It isn't a matter of getting older for me - I was always sensitive to noise. Not all kinds of noise. I don't mind children playing aorund, dogs barking, cats fighting, cars passing by.  What I don't like - and guess most people feel the same -  is kind of sudden or unexpected  noise like some idiots motobike,  a bang.

But then there is Asian noise. This is a constant carpet of sounds, noise, music, speeches, all mixed together. The handymen cutting tiles, the village chief making announcments through the loudspeaker system, the sound check from the nearby concert (and the concert itself with bass frequencies carried kilometers). Look at Tesco Lotus: Not only the usual easy listening music, but also some promotions, TVs everywhere explaining you why you should drink this fruit juice, and nowadays two staff members with microphones shouting to customers that cashier 4 is now available.

In my coffeeshop where I am writing this post the waitress switched on the music (as told by the boss), but since it's a small shop and no customers (I don't count, I guess), she also watches TV on her phone - of course without headphones. (It also seems no problem to do this in a gym, by the way).

What is this Asian relation with noise? Even Laos, the relaxed and laid back country, is actually full of this kind of noise - there is always a wedding or funseral, and the loudspeaker towers look like they set up for the Rolling Stones. 

Studies (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1253729/prove already that noise doesn't make you feel comfortable in a shopping mall, and that all this shouting through microphones decreases sales.  We also learned that noise is stressing us - but try to find a building in Asia that is proper build with walls no reflecting any sound. It is immpossible.

My guess is that the noise is the sound of the growth and development. It shows people that the economy is buzzing, that the city is alive 24 hours. It also helps you to get kind of lost, sounds distract your thoughts, makes you a good customer, but it also distracts you from the anonymity of the metropole.
More studies:
Urban Corridor Noise Pollution: A case study of Surat city, India http://www.ipcbee.com/vol12/28-C10015.pdf

The Effects of Store Environment on Shopping Behaviors: a Critical Review


Effect of backround music to customers behavior: http://moodmixes.com/images/EJSR2007.pdf