A soundscape is a sound or combination of sounds that forms or arises from an immersiveenvironment. The study of soundscape is the subject of acoustic ecology. The idea of soundscape refers to both the natural acoustic environment, consisting of natural sounds, including animal vocalizations and, for instance, the sounds of weather and other natural elements; and environmental sounds created by humans, through musical composition, sound design, and other ordinary human activities including conversation, work, and sounds of mechanical origin resulting from use of industrial technology. Crucially, the term soundscape also includes the listener's perception of sounds heard as an environment: “how that environment is understood by those living within it”  and therefore mediates their relations. The disruption of these acoustic environments results in noise pollution.
The term "soundscape" can also refer to an audio recording or performance of sounds that create the sensation of experiencing a particular acoustic environment, or compositions created using the found sounds of an acoustic environment, either exclusively or in conjunction with musical performances.
This is a musical term that identifies the key of a piece, not always audible ... the key might stray from the original, but it will return. The keynote sounds may not always be heard consciously, but they "outline the character of the people living there" (Schafer). They are created by nature (geography and climate): wind, water, forests, plains, birds, insects, animals. In many urban areas, traffic has become the keynote sound.
These are foreground sounds, which are listened to consciously; examples would be warning devices, bells, whistles, horns, sirens, etc.
This is derived from the term landmark. A soundmark is a sound which is unique to an area. In his 1993 book, The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World, Schafer wrote, "Once a Soundmark has been identified, it deserves to be protected, for soundmarks make the acoustic life of a community unique."
... and the elements have been further defined as to essential sources:
Consisting of the prefix, geo (gr. earth), and phon (gr. sound), this refers to the soundscape sources that are generated by non-biological natural sources such as wind in the trees, water in a stream or waves at the ocean, and earth movement, the first sounds heard on earth by any sound-sentient organism.
Music soundscapes can also be generated by automated software methods, such as the experimental TAPESTREA application, a framework for sound design and soundscape composition, and others.
The soundscape is often the subject of mimicry in Timbre-centered music such as Tuvan throat singing. The process of Timbral Listening is used to interpret the timbre of the soundscape. This timbre is mimicked and reproduced using the voice or rich harmonic producing instruments.
The soundscape consists of three major sources or components. They are the biophony (the non-human, non-domestic animal sound signatures that occur in any given biome), the geophony (non-biological natural sounds that occur in any given biome and that include the effects of wind, water, earth movement, etc.), and anthrophony (human-generated sounds that include entropic electro-mechanical noise, and structured sound such as music and theatre).
Soundscapes and the Environment
There are two distinct soundscapes, either hi-fi or lo-fi, created by the environment. A hi-fi system possesses a positive signal-to-noise ratio. These settings make it possible for discrete sounds to be heard clearly since there is no background noise to obstruct even the smallest disturbance. A rural landscape offers more hi-fi frequencies than a city because the natural landscape creates an opportunity to hear incidences from nearby and afar. In a lo-fi soundscape, signals are obscured by too many sounds, and perspective is lost within the broad- band of noises. In lo-fi soundscapes everything is very close and compact. A person can only listen to immediate encounters; in most cases even ordinary sounds have to be exuberantly amplified in order to be heard.
All sounds are unique in nature. They occur at one time in one place and can't be replicated. In fact, it is physically impossible for nature to reproduce any phoneme twice in exactly the same manner. Today, there is a split between original sounds and unnatural acoustics brought on by the transmission and storage of sound. In other words, recordings have made it possible to simulate any sound environment anywhere. The portability of acoustics has transformed the idea of soundscape because it made hi-fi gadgetry mainstream in a lo-fi setting. Producers have displaced sounds found in the countryside, wildlife, and water and injected them into the homes of people everywhere, further enhancing the lo-fi problem found in urban spaces today.
Soundscapes in health care
Soundscapes from a computerized acoustic device with a camera may also offer synthetic vision to the blind, utilizing human echolocation, as is the goal of the seeing with sound project.
Soundscapes and noise pollution
Papers on noise pollution are increasingly taking a holistic, soundscape approach to noise control. Whereas acoustics tends to rely on lab measurements and individual acoustic characteristics of cars and so on, soundscape takes a top-down approach. Drawing on John Cage's ideas of the whole world as composition, soundscape researchers investigate people's attitudes to soundscapes as a whole rather than individual aspects - and look at how the entire environment can be changed to be more pleasing to the ear.
It has been suggested that people's opportunity to access quiet, natural places in urban areas can be enhanced by improving the ecological quality of urban green spaces through targeted planning and design and that in turn has psychological benefits.
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2003 Site Soundscapes: Landscape architecture in the light of sound - Sonotope Design Strategies, Per Hedfors (Diss.: ISSN 1401-6249 ISBN 91-576-6425-0 Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Diss. summary: ISBN 978-3-639-09413-8
2005 "Acoustic Ecology Considered as a Connotation: Semiotic, Post-Colonial and Educational Views of Soundscape" in Soundscape: The Journal of Acoustic Ecology Vol.6 No.2 - Tadahiko Imada 13-17 (ISSN 1607-3304)
2006 Qualitative Judgements of Urban Soundscapes: Questionning Questionnaires and Semantic Scales - Raimbault, Manon, Acta Acustica united with Acustica 92(6), 929–937
2006, "Gebiete, Schichten und Klanglandschaften in den Alpen. Zum Gebrauch einiger historischer Begriffe aus der Musikethnologie", Marcello Sorce Keller, in T. Nussbaumer (ed.), Volksmusik in den Alpen: Interkulturelle Horizonte und Crossovers, Salzburg, Verlag Mueller-Speiser, 2006, pp. 9–18.
2006 The West Meets the East in Acoustic Ecology (Tadahiko Imada Kozo Hiramatsu et al. Eds), Japanese Association for Sound Ecology & Hirosaki University International Music Centre ISBN 4-9903332-1-7
2008 "Soundscape, postcolonial and music education: Experiencing the earliest grain of the body and music" - Tadahiko Imada in Music Education Policy and Implementation: International Perspectives (Chi Cheung Leung, Lai Chi Rita Yip and Tadahiko Imada Eds, Hirosaki UniversityPress) ISBN 978-4-902774-39-9