R. Murray Schafer

Raymond Murray Schafer (born 18 July 1933) is a Canadian composer, writer, music educator and environmentalist perhaps best known for his World Soundscape Project, concern for acoustic ecology, and his book The Tuning of the World (1977). He was notably the first recipient of the Jules Léger Prize in 1978.

In his memoirs, My Life on Earth and Elsewhere, Schafer described serving as a novice deckhand aboard the oil tanker Imperial Windsor in 1955.

Born in Sarnia, Ontario, he studied at the Royal School of Music in London, the Royal Conservatory of Music, and the University of Toronto. At the latter institution he was a pupil of Richard Johnston.

His music education theories are followed around the world. He started soundscape studies at Simon Fraser University in the 1960s.

In addition to introducing the concept of soundscape, he also coined the term schizophonia in 1969, the splitting of a sound from its source or the condition caused by this split: “We have split the sound from the maker of the sound. Sounds have been torn from their natural sockets and given an amplified and independent existence. Vocal sound, for instance, is no longer tied to a hole in the head but is free to issue from anywhere in the landscape.” Steven Feld, borrowing a term from Gregory Bateson, calls the recombination and recontextualization of sounds split from their sources schismogenesis.

In 1987 he was awarded the first Glenn Gould Prize in recognition of his contributions. In 2005 he was awarded the Walter Carsen Prize, by the Canada Council for the Arts, one of the top honours for lifetime achievement by a Canadian artist. In 2009, he received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement.