This Week in Sound: The Minister of Noise

A lightly annotated clipping service

These sound-studies highlights of the week are lightly adapted from the March 14, 2022, issue of the free weekly email newsletter This Week in Sound (

As always, if you find sonic news of interest, please share it with me, and (except with the most widespread of news items) I’ll credit you should I mention it here.

Meet Sumaira Abdulali, aka the Indian Minister of Noise: “an eminent environmentalist, renowned for raising voice against under-recognised, severe environmental issues such as noise pollution and sand mining,” as profiled by Apoorva Phutela. ➔

Even casual sports can get loud. The sport known as pickleball gained popularity during the pandemic, due to its relative ease of entry. This had become a problem: “the rapid rise of the game — and the decibel levels, crowds and vocal advocacy it generates — has precipitated an intense backlash in communities across the country,” reports Connor Sheets. ➔

File under unintended consequences: Twitter Spaces posts get an extra promotional boost because Twitter is promoting Spaces in general, so people are using them to promote things other than Twitter Spaces, per Rian Broderick. Thus: “Meme accounts have noticed this and are now basically launching junk Spaces simply for the extra promotion.” ➔

Learn how so-called “leaky modes” can be exploited to reveal what lays beneath the earth’s surface. (“Leaky modes can occur when a seismic wave is ‘trapped,’ bouncing back and forth between two layers of rock.”) ➔

32 Sounds is a new film by Sam Green that serves as a “participatory documentary” exploring the experience of sound. Even when the movie is projected in person, viewers are expected to use headphones. “No matter the format, it’s important to experience 32 Sounds with noise-canceling headphones (which are provided at live gigs), as the movie is mixed in such a way that the direction the sound comes from is practically as important as the audio itself — plus, it helps to cut out the rustling, coughing and miscellaneous din that so easily distracts in group settings, like film festival screenings,” writes Peter Debruge. (Music: JD Samson; sound design: Mark Mangini.) ➔ (Thanks, Mériol Lehmann!)

If the intersection of acoustics and construction is your thing, then you want to read about operating rooms and sound clarity in

“If music is sound produced through modification of materials to make instruments and performance spaces in which to listen, then humans are nearly unique” — from an excerpt of the new book Sounds Wild and Broken: Sonic Marvels, Evolution’s Creativity, and the Crisis of Sensory Extinction, by David George Haskell. ➔

“Although background noises are not spoken, they can contain information about the speaker — where the speaker is and what the speaker might be doing.” James A. Larson wrote an opinion piece about voice privacy. ➔

Dune, West Side Story and Nightmare Alley won one award apiece during the Motion Picture Sound Editors’ 69th annual Golden Reel Awards.” Those were, respectivley, for effects/Foley, for music and for dialogue/ADR (which stands for Automated Dialogue Replacement). ➔

Since today is Pi Day, here’s the first 80 digits being played as musical notes, which, of course, takes roughly 3 minutes and 14 seconds. ➔

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