Book Reviews

A Guide to the U.S. Aircraft Regulatory Policy
Sanford Fidell, Vincent Mestre Springer, (2020), 144 pp., hardbound, 109 USD, ISBN 9783030399078

This volume provides a concise chronological discussion of the history of US Aircraft noise regulations, up to and including the 1996 Revocation of the FAA Charter to promote civil aviation and the eventual FAA Act of 2018 and its potential influence on future aircraft noise regulations.

The book also provides a handy review of several closely related topics of interest. These include a review of the effects on individuals and communities of aircraft and airport noise (a topic for which Dr. Fidell is especially well known, and easily the most detailed chapter of the book). Other less rigorous chapters include aircraft noise measurement and modeling, airport land use planning and other airport noise mitigation strategies, ad potential future changes to airport noise policy.

I did find the discussion of related topics to be useful and easy to follow for someone who is not a dedicated aviation noise specialist. However, I think that one additional topic that might have been useful to include would be a comparative analysis between US aviation policy and aviation noise policy around the world. For example, the European Union is known to be much more progressive in terms of noise control requirements for everything from consumer products to public projects. It would have been interesting to better understand how their aviation noise policies differ from those in the US.

Paul Burge, INCE Bd. Cert. AECOM

Acoustical Materials: Solving the Challenge of Vehicle Noise
Pranab Saha Published by SAE International ISBN 978-0-7680-8084-1 318 pages USD $70.00

First, I will report on the contents and then provide my opinion of this brand-new book. The eight-page table of contents lists the ten chapters:

  1. Vehicle acoustics and understanding of noise, 30 pp.
  2. Instrumentation and test facilities, 28 pp.
  3. Hearing parameters, 14 pp.
  4. Vehicle noise sources and solutions, 27 pp.
  5. Sound absorber, 30 pp.
  6. Sound barrier, 30 pp.
  7. Vibration damper, 26 pp.
  8. Case studies, 44 pp.
  9. Test methods, 42 pp.
  10. Closing the loop, 17 pp.

Each chapter, with about ten sections each, is followed by a listing of numerous references and a section containing additional reading. Following this is a forward by Jack Mowry, the famous editor, and Publisher of Sound and Vibration magazine, a two-page preface by the author, acknowledgments, “About the Author,” and a listing of acronyms. After the chapters, there is a comprehensive index.

If you have no time to read this, my review, in brief, is this: is an incredibly good book that needs to be on every acoustician’s bookshelf.

Each chapter is fully detailed and informative. The chapters on sound barriers and absorbers are comprehensive and sufficient to provide more than just a basic understanding of the subjects. Also, the chapters on test methods are perfect for an introduction or even a review of the latest acoustical and vibration testing. The last chapter, “Closing the loop” tops off this excellent work while it discusses some of the fundamental concepts of acoustics, how to pick a test facility, and, of all things, how to design a reverb room.

That is enough of a technical review. As a certified geezer, I have been reviewing books for years and this book is exceptionally excellent. The book is beautiful. Detailed, clear figures in a color that are described fully in the text, wide margins (for note-taking), and well-explained equations are just some characteristics that make this book the very best textbook I ever read or reviewed. This book is applicable not only to those in the transportation industry but also to anyone doing noise control. This book is highly recommended.

Richard J. Peppin, 5012 Macon Rd., Rockville, MD 20852 301-910-2813.

Why You Hear What You Hear: An Experiential Approach to Sound, Music, and Psychoacoustics
Eric J. Heller Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, USA (2013), 590 pp., Hardbound, 120 USD, ISBN 978-0-691-14859-5

There are numerous proofs of the Pythagorean theorem. Euclid provides one of the more interesting in his Elements where he uses only the geometry axioms he originally proposed. No algebra or trigonometry is needed, and the proof is remarkable because he gets there with a limited set of tools.

I appreciate Eric Heller’s Why You Hear What You Hear: An Experiential Approach to Sound Music, and Psychoacoustics in much the same way. Heller goes about introducing the science of acoustics with a substantial handicap. Namely, calculus and differential equations are not welcome. Yet, Heller’s accomplishment is more impressive because he teaches with a set of limited mathematical tools. Heller compensates by using intuition and pulling in similar phenomena from fields outside acoustics where appropriate.

For instance, he explains impedance by aligning coins on a table. He gives the reader a conceptual understanding of autocorrelation by looking at temperature variations in Fairbanks. He describes vibrational modes using beads on a string. Along the way, Heller adds color to the discussions by mixing in historical anecdotes and quotes from well-known personages like Aristotle and Galileo. Even
Napoleon plays a role in the history of acoustics. He recounts how the sound of bells was apparently heard by a ship 100 miles away at sea. That would seem to be impossible, but he goes on to show how it just might be plausible. In an amusing aside, he recounts how Sabine’s frequency in getting haircuts affected the reverberation time in his room and that one of his students surmised that hair might be a very good sound absorber.

I found the book as entertaining as it is informative. It is lucidly written, and the explanations and rudimentary mathematics can be understood by first-year undergraduates. The text is inviting because the volume is nicely illustrated and attractively laid out. Where illustrations are not enough, Heller relies on Paul Falstad’s physics applets that are freely available online. I was not aware of these applets prior to reading the book.

The book proceeds in a logical fashion by first discussing sound and wave propagation. It goes on to discuss some signal processing basics such as the Fourier transform and autocorrelation. Heller then describes sources of sound, vibrational modes, damping, and impulse response. Musical acoustics is next with chapters on wind instruments, the voice, violin, and piano. The book then moves on to discuss psychoacoustics where concepts like loudness, pitch perception, and timbre are explained. The book concludes with discussions on architectural acoustics and outdoor sound propagation.

The text can be used for a myriad of introductory level undergraduate courses in acoustics. However, I suspect that more experienced acousticians and noise control engineers will derive greater pleasure from it. There are surprises in every chapter. This is a book that makes acoustics interesting. Simply put, this is a fantastic book and is highly recommended.

David Herrin, Ph.D., Professor, Mechanical Engineering, University of Kentucky

Worship Sound Spaces: Architecture, Acoustics, and Anthropology
Edited by Christine Guillebaud and Catherine Lavandier, Routledge, New York, NY, (2020),
256 pp., Hardbound, 140 USD, ISBN 9780367234225

Worship Sound Spaces is a collection of 11 papers based on work conducted at a 2015 Conference of the
same title. The papers are organized into three sections: (1) Sonic architecture: acoustic intentions in worship buildings, (2) Experiencing the sacred through sound, and (3) Restoring the sound ambiances of the past. An introduction by the editors and an afterword by Jean-Paul Thibaud are also included.

Since this book is a collection of papers, the reviewer tried to summarize some general thoughts and impressions for each section rather than summarizing each of the papers. The titles do a good job of describing the general topic of each paper, but there is too much information to simply
summarize them in a few sentences.

Introduction: Religious listenings: a multidisciplinary approach, by Christine Guillebaud and Catherine Lavandier

Part 1: Sonic architecture: acoustic intentions in worship buildings

Paper 1: Characterizing the acoustics of places of worship: should we believe in acoustic indicators? by Marc Asselineau

Paper 2: Towards a history of architectural acoustics using archaeological evidence: recent research contributions to understanding the use of acoustic ports in the quest for sound quality in 11th to 17th-century churches in France, by Jean-Christophe Valière and Bénédicte Palazzo-Bertholon

Paper 3: Temple sound spaces and ancient Hindu ritual texts, by Gérard Colas. This paper provides a brief overview of the sound spaces within the Hindu temple.

The three papers in this section examine three different worship spaces from a room/environmental acoustics perspective. Key items include the metrics used to define spaces, what we believe was the intention of acoustic pots placed in a liturgical space, what are their measured effects on the acoustics in the space, and the purpose and function of sound in Hindu Temples. In paper 3, I found it interesting as a noise control engineer that “temples are assessed according to the distance at which the sound of the conch is perceived” as well as other information presented.

Part II: Experiencing the sacred through sound

Paper 4: The worldmaking ways of church bells: three stories about the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris, by Gaspard Salatko

Paper 5: What should the reverberation inside a masjid be? A study exploring the demands of Imams, by Ahmed Elkhateeb (defining reverberation times for the performer (Imam) as well as the worshipers; chant not sung — the presence of prayer rugs)

Paper 6: Soundwalks in a Shiva temple: a situated approach to the perceived ambiance, by Christine Guillebaud (within and around the temple sound acts as a ritual action, timing, etc.)

Paper 7: Bells, auspiciousness, and the god of music: reflections on sound in ritual spaces in Nepalese Hindu traditions

Paper 8: Resonant voices and spatial politics: an acous-temlog of citizenship in a Muslim neighborhood of the Kenyan coast, by Andrew Eisenberg

Having only studied and worked with catholic congregations in the US, I found these papers enlightening.
Instead of working on separating the sound inside and outside of a worship space, in other cultures and traditions, there is distinct interaction. This can be highlighted with the sound around and within a Shiva temple, a highly complex acoustical space. Bells are not simply tools to call congregants to worship but can be ritually personified. The preferred reverberation time inside a masjid is much longer than I would have expected based on my experiences with various vocal performance spaces.

Part III: Restoring the sound ambiances of the past
Paper 9: The church beyond worship: experiencing
monumental sound spaces in the Roman Catholic churches of Montréal (Québec, Canada), by Josée Laplace
Paper 10: Sound heterotopia in the Cistercian monastery, by Pascal Joanne
Paper 11: The original acoustics of the 17th-century Mughal heritage of Burhanpur, India, by Amit J.Wahurwagh, Akshay P. Patil and Alpana R. Dongre
Afterword: A world of attunements, by Jean-Paul Thibaud

The acoustic experience for worshipers in space extends beyond listening to spoken or musical messages.
Perhaps this is perceived by many people during the ongoing pandemic where typical worship may not be possible. Within the worship space, we interpret and react to the acoustics of the space on different levels with the added dimensions of quiet and reverberation creating an otherworldly image. Otherworldliness can be extended to the concept of heterotopia, by philosopher Michel Foucault. Using Cistercian abbeys, two case studies are presented. Maintaining the original aesthetics of the space during restoration includes restoring the acoustics of the space. This can be a challenge with older spaces having undergone partial restoration. Simulation using period material properties and original geometry makes this possible.

I originally expected more of a textbook covering the acoustical design of various worship spaces. While the text does provide much information on types of worship spaces both common and not common in the United States, it also provides more. I do find myself thinking about sound in my environment, both during leisure and work, and how the role sound plays during these experiences. Hopefully, this review will intrigue some of you, who may have not considered the purchase of this text, or who have not read much about soundscapes to give it a read or attend soundscape sessions or two at an upcoming conference.
Charles Moritz, INCE.Bd.Cert., Director of Product Development and Research and Development
Cadillac Products Automotive Compan