Info - Project SPP

Soundscapes in public places

Bernd ROHRMANN (Roman Research Road RRR)

= AIM =

To observe and describe which kinds of sound occur in different public places (including teaching venues, music venues, cinemas, theatres, pubs/cafes/restaurants, transportation, shopping venues, sport venues), which average and peak levels the sounds create, how people exposed to such soundscapes respond, and what the impacts on socio-psychological processes such as interaction and communication are.


This research began at the University of Melbourne as an exploratory project, but increased soon, including a cross-cultural extension in Europe. The project never received formal funding. It is nevertheless intended to continue and to complete it.


"Music in Cafes & Restaurants" <MCR>

Conducted so far: Honours project by Corrinna Burrows (1999); replication of sound measurements by Sonja Pedell (June 2000); further measurements by Manuel Voelkle (April 2001), Bernd Rohrmann (June 2002, May 2006), Sereina Oggier (August 2006).
Intended: Additional data collection in a wider set of venues, including outdoor eating places and pubs.
For a publication on "Soundscapes in restaurants" click here.

"Sound levels in common-place situations" <SLC>

Conducted so far: Observations of sound levels during 24 hours (Sonja Pedell, 2001).
Underway: Documentation of sound levels cited in pertinent literature (BR).

"Sound levels and social interactions in music venues" <SIM>

Planned or underway: Exploratory observations in real-life situations by Sereina Oggier & Bernd Rohrmann (2006). Survey with a sample of visitors in three types of venues (pubs, cafes, gyms) by Anne Makin & Lilian Jansen (Feb-July 2005). Then development of a pertinent standardized questionnaire (Bernd Rohrmann, 2007).
A research report by Rohrmann, "Soundscapes-types and impacts of music imparted in public places" (2006), is available - click this.

"Music levels in Melbourne University eateries" <MLM>

Conducted so far:  Soundscape observations and measurements in 17 bistros and cafes (mostly student customers): Bernd Rohrmann, Sereina Oggier, Jennifer Makin (May-July 2006). 
A report by Rohrmann is available (Feb 2006); contact the author.

"Sound levels and social interactions in eateries with music" <SIE>

Conducted: Observations of customers in cafes & bistros, exploring the impacts of high music level on communication behaviors and on social interactions with others; carried out by Lydia Glick, Karmen Jobling, Deanne Domaschenz and Bernd Rohrmann (July 2007 to Dec 2007).

"Impacts of music exposure in public venues and the influence of cultural factors" <IMC>

Conducted so far:  Survey by Margaret Blanch (2007) with customers in restaurants and gyms (Australians and foreigners); supervised & re-analyzed by Bernd Rohrmann.

"Sound levels and social interactions in eateries with music: Staff attitudes" <SSM>

Conducted so far: Exploratory interviews with managers and staff members of pubs and bistros, by Karmen Jobling and Bernd Rohrmann (April-July 2008).
Intended: Similar survey in a wider range of venue types.

"Venues with regular music - Melbourne-Carlton" <MVM>

Conducted so far: Checking for all cafes, bistros, restaurants, pubs ("eateries") and shops on the central section of Lygon St (m=167) whether they regularly play music; carried out by Penny Yew, Sophie Gohl and Bernd Rohrmann (Apr to May 2009).


In order to enhance the validity of Project SPP, it was decided to run 'parallel' studies in Europe, in collaboration with colleagues at Leiden Univ., Netherlands; Hamburg Univ. and Bochum Univ., Germany; Zuerich Univ., Switzerland; Innsbruck Univ., Austria.

The first three of these were:
"Sound levels and social interactions in venues with music: Cross-cultural comparison"  <SIH>,
"Music levels in Hamburg University eateries" <MLH>,
"Social interactions in eateries with music: Staff attitudes" <SSH>,
conducted in Hamburg (Oct 2007 to Dec 2008), mainly by David Fischer and Nils Grube.

A survey in various venue types in Innsbruck,
"Soundscapes and interactions in venues with music: Innsbruck" <SII>
was run in collaboration with Prof P. Lercher and mostly conducted by Stephan Pidner.

Additional sound level measurements were collected in the sub-study
"Music levels in Bochum University eateries" <MLB>,
designed and conducted in collaboration with Prof R. Guski.

Furthermore, a collaboration with researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong is under consideration.


The findings gained so far, after conducting 13 sub-studies, are multifold and inviting for a critical discussion, because they do not provide straightforward answers to a complex question, namely, whether loud music soundscapes do induce significant impacts on socio-psychological processes such as communication.

Therefore it was decided to focus a "Multidisciplinary Melbourne Risk Research Roundtable" (2M3R) on potential risks from music soundscapes - click 2M3R and there 2M3R-2009 for details. This expert workshop was realized in April 2009. See OutlookProjectSPP for the overall conclusion, namely, to terminate this project, in spite of its social significance.

However, an 'analytical discourse' about the issue will be maintained, e.g., by presenting it on conferences of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology in 2010 and 2012 or 2013 -- striving for further insights into the underlying socio-psychological factors. In this context, in 2012 a summarizing chronicle "Soundscapes in public places: Profile and synopsis of an interdisciplinary research project on the impact of loud music" (click spp-synopsis) was provided. Beside that, a German sum-up for Project SPP has been created in 2013 (click spp-aufsatz if interested).

= Contact address =

Prof. Bernd ROHRMANN,  via
Roman Research Road venture, Melbourne, Victoria 3054, AUSTRALIA
E-Mail: mail {at}

Updated: BR 31-03-12