Responses to government-imposed restrictions: The sound of Australia's church bells one year after the onset of COVID-19

Murray Parker, Dirk H.R. Spennenmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how a stochastic disruptive event can dramatically alter community soundscapes. Whilst religious bells have symbolism in many worldwide faiths, the sound emanating from church bells can be considered public domain and therefore, is not exclusive to the church. Pandemic-related interruption of these sounds impacts not only the church involved, but both the surrounding soundscape and any members of the community who ascribe value to these sounds. This paper examines the soundscape of Christian churches in the states of New South Wales and Victoria, to give an Australian perspective one year after the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. It provides an update of the situation in Australia, building on our previous work from August of that year. In doing so, it explores the activity of church tower bell ringing, and how this “non-essential” activity has been affected, both during and subsequent to the heavy community restrictions applied in Australia. The paper also explores what lengths bellringers have undertaken to be permitted to conduct such activities, such as the use of adaptive measures due to “social distancing”, and considers what implications this enforced silence has in similar soundscapes elsewhere in the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2677-2681
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Volume150
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Oct 2021

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