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Silence is full of acoustic potential

Why music and silence belong together and why we all need silence

Music and silence in interaction

Why the winter sounds quiet

Sonically, our environment also changes when snow falls. When thick flakes fall to the ground, we have the feeling that they embed our surroundings in a peaceful calm. The sounds seem to diminish with each snowflake, muffling even pithy sounds like the honking of cars or the laughter of small children. All intrusive noise loses its power. But is this just a conceit that fits into our romantic notion of winter, a mere metaphor of poets when they write of winter silence?

No, says science. Because behind the acoustic noise reduction lies a simple physical explanation. Snowflakes, which are a collection of fine ice crystals that pile up on top of each other on the ground, actually act as "sound absorbers." The flakes stack loosely on top of each other and countless cavities are formed. Sound waves that penetrate the snow cover or flakes still falling to the ground cause the fine tips of the snow crystals to resonate, the sound waves are absorbed, and silence ensues.

The winter silence in the mountains

Why we need silence

Silence is therefore an absence of sounds of all kinds - or in other words: soundlessness, at least a perceived one. The maximum increase of this is the colloquial "dead silence". No background noise, absolutely nothing can be heard.

But that is exactly what has become rare in our time. Telephones, leaf blowers, traffic - all everyday sources of noise that break the silence.

Yet noise research studies speak a clear language. The daily influx of noise causes our brains to fatigue - mental exhaustion and a decline in concentration are the effects. In addition, we cannot consciously control our sense of hearing or even switch it off. Silence, on the other hand, has a downright refreshing effect on our body and mind, and acoustic time-outs achieve an enormous effect in restoring our cognitive performance. A positive effect that is also known from mindfulness and concentration exercises.

In silence we find peace and concentration

Why music and silence belong together

At first glance, music and silence appear to be a paradox. But it is precisely in music that silence sometimes becomes most impressively audible. For music arises from silence and also returns to it. This interplay directs our attention entirely to the audible event. Thus the dynamic, the slow swelling from quiet to loud, and the pause is an important design element for the conscious perception of sounds.

Probably the most popular musical concept on the meaning of silence in music comes from John Cage. His "silent" piece of music Musikstück 4′33″ is an intense exploration and a conscious confrontation with spatial silence. In doing so, the listener focuses on the ever-different ambient sounds of his environment, demonstrating that "all sounds can become music."

How silence makes brands come alive

Many commercials try to attract the listener's attention with shrill sounds and penetrating music. But instead of a pleasant listening experience, the listener often feels the desire to switch off. This not only loses the advertising message, but can also lead to the potential customer associating a negative emotion with the brand.

A deliberate reduction in sound design, however, can lead to a brand not only being positively charged, but also being remembered in the long term through a special listening experience and positive memory through a special listening experience. Silence and the focus on the product's own sounds are important stylistic devices here. Haptics, structures, and materiality can be experienced acoustically and create a pleasant, positive sound experience that is completely focused on the brand.

Acoustic Ecology made by comevis

Acoustic "well-being" is full of exciting potential and can be easily integrated at all relevant touchpoints. With our Acoustic Ecology strategy, we have set ourselves the goal of creating unique sound atmospheres, making sustainability claims audible and developing positive sound concepts.

We already offer different solutions of functional soundscapes for the very individual room design, with which you can design and control the sound atmospheres very individually. Or use our Affective Sound Ecology to align digital interaction spaces (e.g. your service line) sound ecologically and stress-free.

We look forward to hearing from you and wish you a peaceful and "quiet" Advent season!

Stephan Vincent Nölke


"Silence has a very immediate effect on people: it affects our heartbeat, blood pressure, the frequency at which we breathe, our muscle tension and hormone balance. And it makes you happy and can be a balm for the soul".

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