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Sound Business Paperback – 2007
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About the Author
Julian Treasure is founder of the world's first strategic sound consultancy and an international consultant on all matters of the use and abuse of sound in business and commerce. He is frequently invited to speak at international conferences. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I wish I had this book while I was at Best Buy.
Mr. Treasure's book is a must if you work in an industry where sound is in any way a part of the communication medium or environment. The book does a splendid job of covering the spectrum of sound, from creation to transmission to impact in just about every type of environment where sound is used.
The book is broken into three sections. Mr. Treasure first educates us on the technical side of sound: decibels, resonance, frequency, waves, creation, transmission, and the factors in sound's impact on the listener. He ends the section on listening. "Hearing is a physical process, but listening is a relationship, a choice, and a skill." The text dives deep into the ability to listen and decode information, citing research that states, "We can handle only around seven chunks of information at once (plus or minus two)." This is important when thinking about a retail environment and all the competing noise.
The second section tours the several different classifications of sound and applicable rules for working with sound, including Mr. Treasure's "Four Golden Rules of Sound:" Make the sound optional, make it appropriate, make it valuable, and test, test test. He writes about some new tools, such as Reactive sound, where computers with environmental sensors create sound on the fly. For example, when the room lights dim, the computer senses a change in light and automatically alters the sound.
Mr. Treasure introduces the SoundFlow(tm) model, a detailed process map that outlines the effects of sound on people and environments. He also introduces the SoundMap(tm), a 12-cell matrix with over 90 questions designed to drill down to the core issues around sound associated with a brand, product, or service. I'm willing to bet that you, Mr. or Ms. Marketing Executive, will be unable to accurately answer two-thirds of those questions. If so, you do not have a solid sound approach to your brand or product.
All of this information is the foundation for the third section where Mr. Treasure takes you on a journey through the application of sound in any given environment. He explains the value and impact of sound on a brand, ranging from brand music (British Airways using "Flower Duet" from Delibés' opera Lakmé), to sonic logos (Intel's five note logo or NBC's three-note chime).
Mr. Treasure explains the factors of sound in just about every type of environment, from retail spaces, to hospitals, reception areas, office environments, private spaces (living rooms) and vehicles.
The book is loaded with case studies and examples of good sound and bad sound, providing detail on how sound can affect sales and engagement. Mr. Treasure cites a retail project where the front windows were transformed into giant loudspeakers, resulting in a 50 percent increase in customer traffic stopping to investigate.
Mr. Treasure provides ample detail on the effect of sound in a retail environment. For example, he describes how up-tempo music results in customers with a higher degree of energy that move through store faster. He suggests that slower music results in longer dwell times. But, if you're Abercrombe and Fitch you would be hard pressed to change your Top 40 and electronic up-tempo music aimed at the teen and young adult demographic to slower music. Going back to the SoundFlow(tm) and SoundMap(tm) processes, Abercrombe and Fitch would be able to make the sound applicable to the environment as part of the brand, not just noise from the heavens.
The book comes with an accompanying CD that exemplifies the very situations he cites. After going through the CD along with the book, I cannot fathom how this book would work without it. I spent several tracks thinking, "So that's what he means!"
This book has proven to be an invaluable resource for my work with some of my clients, substantiating details I already knew about audio and providing me with knowledge on appreciating audio's impact and developing solutions better suited for the client and the audience.
I believe this would be a great addition to anyone's desire to understand the impact of interactive experiences, and highly recommend it.
I'll let Mr. Treasure close: "If this book achieves one thing only, I hope it is to move us out of this denial and into recognition of the enormous, varied and wide-ranging effects that sound is having on us all."
To write a book about the impact sound has upon our daily lives is no bad thing. As the author cites, even in London the Mayor has a policy about noise reduction. However the credibility of his message is considerably diluted both by the imprecision of the factual information he uses throughout, and from the rather worrying conclusions he derives which go to inform the design of a system designed to inflict more noise on the public based on what would appear to be unproven and highly subjective hypotheses.
Firstly, his knowledge of the history of music appears limited. By way of specific example, his references to the liturgical (Church) modes being used `to create different emotional responses to plainsong, from happiness to tears, tenderness to anger' are ill-founded. Modes were the building blocks of plainchant not a device for making comment. The chant itself tended to be highly organised, conforming largely to predetermined structures, and we have no verifiable proof as to their exact manner of performance. Whilst there may have been the all too human tendency to stray from this prescribed practice this was brought to an end by the Council of Trent (1543-1563) which decreed that sacred music `should be written in a dignified, serious style'. Tears, tenderness and anger played no part in the Mass...Tridentine or otherwise.
References to musical terminology are similarly inexact. For example the use of the word `pitch' has a very specific meaning relating purely to the frequency of vibration of a single sound source. That is all. Grouping `power spectrum' (whatever that might be), `harmonics', `mode', `melody' and `harmony' under this heading is like grouping a flock of birds under the word `feather'. All birds have them, but they are only part of the story. These types of indistinct observation are commonplace throughout the book.
His knowledge of physics too seems similarly wayward. When he divides sonic events into those that 'are vibrations' (e.g. a violin string) and those which `create vibration' (a hand clap) he misses the point. Both events are exactly the same in that they impact upon the air molecules and cause them to oscillate. It is just that one has periodicity, the other doesn't. And as for his comments to the effect that `we make sound but don't make light' ....we do. Infra red. It is just in a different place on the electro-magnetic spectrum from visible light. Strange too that Pythagoras is omitted from references to the harmonic series, or rather harmonic `scale' as the author would have it.
It is unclear too for whom this book is intended. The imprecise use of terminology makes it unsuitable for the professional, and at the same time somewhat bemusing for a non specialist. Mention of `tonic' and `dominant' in the context of contrasting Western music with that of Ornette Coleman will leave the cognoscenti shaking their heads whilst the uninitiated remain suitably bemused.
This book has a laudable premise; that the world we live in is becoming increasingly noisy by the profusion of non-natural sounds, and something needs to be done. However books of this nature would benefit from much more robust research amongst the academic work on the subject rather than relying upon the more meagre sources to be found in the book's bibliography. During such research the author may well find too that his personal assumptions are not quite what he first thought before going to press.
Incidentally the annoying little Nokia Tune is taken from the Gran Vals by Tarrega not, as stated in his book, from the Gran Vales by Farrega.