Silence and frame analysis: Whatever we talk about, what is left out is a key consideration

With regard to silence, a good starting point is The Soundscape: Our Environment and the Tuning of the World (1977, 1994) by R. Murray Schafer. Chapter 19 is entitled: “Silence.”

There are other ways to introduce the topic of silence, aside from citing Murray Schafer. [1] Many other people have spoken about silence as well, or have been silent with regard to the topic.

This post is also concerned with frame analysis. A good source to cite regarding this topic is Frame Analysis (1974) by Erving Goffman. I begin with the topic of silence.


As a general principle we can say that silence is always in the background when we encounter a blurb, news report, or summary. In order to create a short version of anything, much must be left out. The story, however, does not stop there. In order to create a long version of anything, the same situation is in place: in presenting your story, however long it may be, much must of necessity be left out.

Frame analysis

The current post concerns itself with silence and frame analysis. So, it is a good time, at this point in the essay, to say a few words about framing. And the point is: Whatever we talk about, what is left out is a key consideration.

1 reply
  1. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    Note 1

    A blurb for The Soundscape: Our Environment and the Tuning of the World (1977, 1994) by R. Murray Schafer reads:

    The soundscape – a term coined by the author – is our sonic environment, the ever-present array of noises with which we all live. Beginning with the primordial sounds of nature, we have experienced an ever-increasing complexity of our sonic surroundings. As civilization develops, new noises rise up around us: from the creaking wheel, the clang of the blacksmith’s hammer, and the distant chugging of steam trains to the “sound imperialism” of airports, city streets, and factories. The author contends that we now suffer from an overabundance of acoustic information and a proportionate diminishing of our ability to hear the nuances and subtleties of sound. Our task, he maintains, is to listen, analyze, and make distinctions.

    As a society we have become more aware of the toxic wastes that can enter our bodies through the air we breathe and the water we drink. In fact, the pollution of our sonic environment is no less real. Schafer emphasizes the importance of discerning the sounds that enrich and feed us and using them to create healthier environments. To this end, he explains how to classify sounds, appreciating their beauty or ugliness, and provides exercises and “soundwalks” to help us become more discriminating and sensitive to the sounds around us. This book is a pioneering exploration of our acoustic environment, past and present, and an attempt to imagine what it might become in the future.


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