Skip to content
BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access January 27, 2021

The “sound of silence” in Granada during the COVID-19 lockdown

  • Jerónimo Vida Manzano EMAIL logo , José Antonio Almagro Pastor , Rafael García Quesada , Francesco Aletta , Tin Oberman , Andrew Mitchell and Jian Kang
From the journal Noise Mapping


Exceptional circumstances in the city of Granada due to the COVID-19 lockdown have provided the opportunity to characterise the impact of humans on its urban acoustic climate. Traditional environmental noise management and urban sound planning usually take into account noise sources in the city, such as industrial activities or road traffic noise, in model estimations, as well as in empirical research. But trying to isolate human impact by itself, human activity including social activity, walking, talking or just going around the city, has always been a difficult or even impossible task. The COVID-19 lockdown measures have provided the opportunity to study urban climate as never before, affected just by natural or animal noise sources. Previous soundscape research at some iconic sites in the city of Granada carried out in 2019 before the lockdown and a special measuring campaign carried out at the same locations during the lockdown in 2020 offered valuable information on sound levels and local characteristics in order to carry out this comparison. Results show a great change in environmental noise levels that is interesting not only because of its magnitude, but also for its implications, especially at those sites where social human activity was an identifying characteristic. Natural or animal sounds became surprisingly evident at some study sites, especially where road traffic noise dramatically decreased, leading to significantly lower background noise levels. Important spectral changes are observed before and during the lockdown, suggesting a shift from anthropic to animal sources in the acoustic environment.


[1] Gobierno de España, Real Decreto 463/2020, de 14 de marzo, por el que se declara el estado de alarma para la gestión de la situación de crisis sanitaria ocasionada por el COVID-19. 2020.Search in Google Scholar

[2] Aletta F, Osborn D. The COVID-19 global challenge and its implications for the Environment – what are we learning. UCL Open Environ. 2020;1(1):5.10.14324/111.444/ucloe.000008Search in Google Scholar

[3] Acoucité. Lockdown during COVID-19 pandemic:Impact on Sound Environment (Summary Report, version 11th June 2020). Acoucité; 2020.Search in Google Scholar

[4] Bruitparif, Les effets du confinement sur le bruit en ile-de-France. 2020.Search in Google Scholar

[5] Aletta F, Brinchi S, Carrese S, Gemma A, Guattari C, Mannini L, et al. Analysing urban trafic volumes and mapping noise emissions in Rome (Italy) in the context of containment measures for the COVID-19 disease. Noise Mapp. 2020;7.10.1515/noise-2020-0010Search in Google Scholar

[6] Ajuntament de Barcelona, Informe COVID-19 d’alteració dels nivells sonors, 15 April 2020.Search in Google Scholar

[7] Cohen E. A Phenomenology of Tourist Experiences. Sociology. 1979;13(2):179–201.10.1177/003803857901300203Search in Google Scholar

[8] Kirillova K, Fu X, Lehto X, Cai L. What makes a destination beautiful? Dimensions of tourist aesthetic judgment. Tour Manage. 2014;42:282–93.10.1016/j.tourman.2013.12.006Search in Google Scholar

[9] Zhang D, Zhang M, Liu D, Kang J. Soundscape evaluation in Han Chinese Buddhist temples. Appl Acoust. 2016;111:188–97.10.1016/j.apacoust.2016.04.020Search in Google Scholar

[10] Aletta F, Kang J. Historical Acoustics: Relationships between People and Sound over Time. Acoustics (Basel). 2020;2(1):128–30.10.3390/acoustics2010009Search in Google Scholar

[11] Jordan P. Historic Approaches to Sonic Encounter at the Berlin Wall Memorial. Acoustics (Basel). 2019;1(3):517–37.10.3390/acoustics1030029Search in Google Scholar

[12] UNESCO. Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Secr. United Nations; 2003.Search in Google Scholar

[13] Berardi U, Iannace G, Ianniello C. Acoustic intervention in a cultural heritage: The chapel of the Royal Palace in Caserta, Italy. Buildings. 2015;6(1):1–14.10.3390/buildings6010001Search in Google Scholar

[14] UNESCO. General Assembly Resolution 39C/59 – The Importance of Sound in Today’s World: Promoting Best Practices, Secr. Paris: United Nations. 2017.Search in Google Scholar

[15] Schwarz O. What should nature sound like? Techniques of engagement with nature sites and sonic preferences of Israeli visitors. Ann Tour Res. 2013;42:382–401.10.1016/j.annals.2013.03.001Search in Google Scholar

[16] Krause B, Gage SH, Joo W. Measuring and interpreting the temporal variability in the soundscape at four places in Sequoia National Park. Landsc Ecol. 2011;26(9):1247–56.10.1007/s10980-011-9639-6Search in Google Scholar

[17] Lynch E, Joyce D, Fristrup K. An assessment of noise audibility and sound levels in U.S. National Parks. Landsc Ecol. 2011;26(9):26.Search in Google Scholar

[18] Miller NP. US National Parks and management of park sound-scapes: A review. Appl Acoust. 2008;69(2):77–92.10.1016/j.apacoust.2007.04.008Search in Google Scholar

[19] Votsi NP, Mazaris AD, Kallimanis AS, Pantis JD. Natural quiet: an additional feature reflecting green tourism development in conservation areas of Greece. Tour Manag Perspect. 2014;11:10–7.10.1016/j.tmp.2014.02.001Search in Google Scholar

[20] Zhou Z, Kang J, Jin H. Factors that influence soundscapes in historical areas. Noise Control Eng J. 2014;62(2):60–8.10.3397/1/376206Search in Google Scholar

[21] Aletta F, Brambilla G, Maffei L, Masullo M. Urban soundscapes: characterization of a pedestrian tourist route in Sorrento (Italy). Urban Sci. 2017;1(1):4.10.3390/urbansci1010004Search in Google Scholar

[22] Liu A, Liu F, Deng Z, Chen W. Relationship between soundscape and historical-cultural elements of Historical Areas in Beijing: a case study of Qianmen Avenue. Proc. Internoise. Conf. Melbourne, 2014.Search in Google Scholar

[23] Romero VP, Brambilla G, Di Gabriele M, Gallo V, Maffei L. The influence of the soundscape on the tourists’ environmental quality perception. Proc. Euronoise Conf.Maastricht, 2015.Search in Google Scholar

[24] Maffei L, DiGabriele M, Masullo M, Aletta F. On the perception of Limited Trafic Zones as urban noise mitigation action. Noise Mapp. 2014;1(1):50–8.Search in Google Scholar

[25] Aletta F, Oberman T, Mitchell A, Tong H, Kang J. Assessing the changing urban sound environment during the COVID-19 lock-down period using short-term acoustic measurements. Noise Mapp. 2020;7(1):123–34.10.1515/noise-2020-0011Search in Google Scholar

[26] ISO, ISO 1996-1:2016 Acoustics. Description, measurement and assessment of environmental noise. Basic quantities and assessment procedures. 2016.Search in Google Scholar

[27] ISO, ISO 1996-2:2017 Acoustics – Description, measurement and assessment of environmental noise – Part 2: Determination of sound pressure levels. 2017.Search in Google Scholar

[28] HBK, Brüel & Kjaer BK Connect, n.d.Search in Google Scholar

[29] ISO, ISO 12913: 2019 Acoustics — Soundscape — Part 3: Data analysis. 2019.Search in Google Scholar

[30] ISO, ISO 532-1 Acoustics — Methods for calculating loudness. 2017.Search in Google Scholar

[31] DIN, DIN 45692 Measurement technique for the simulation of the auditory sensation of sharpness. 2009.Search in Google Scholar

[32] ECMA. ECMA-74 Measurement of airborne noise emitted by information technology and telecommunications equipment, ECMA Int. Stand. 2019.Search in Google Scholar

[33] Ziaran S. The assessment and evaluation of low-frequency noise near the region of infrasound. Noise Health. 2014 Jan-Feb;16(68):10–7.10.4103/1463-1741.127848Search in Google Scholar PubMed

[34] Berglund B, Hassmén P, Job RF. Sources and effects of low-frequency noise. J Acoust Soc Am. 1996 May;99(5):2985–3002.10.1121/1.414863Search in Google Scholar PubMed

[35] Alves S, Estevez-Mauriz L, Aletta F, Echevarria-Sanchez GM, Romero VP. Towards the integration of urban sound planning in urban development processes: the study of four test sites within the SONORUS project. Noise Mapp. 2015;2:57–85.10.1515/noise-2015-0005Search in Google Scholar

[36] Alsina-Pagès RM, Freixes M, Orga F, Foraster M, Labairu-Trenchs A. Perceptual evaluation of the citizen’s acoustic environment from classic noise monitoring. Cities Health. 2020;00:1–5.Search in Google Scholar

[37] Vida Manzano J, Puga JL, León-Martín LM. Nuevo Mapa Estratégico de Ruido de la Ciudad de Granada. 2016. in Google Scholar

[38] Vida Manzano J, Puga JL, León-Martín LM. LORCA, Limitación, cOntrol y Reducción de la Contaminación Acústica en Granada. 2013. in Google Scholar

[39] Schulte-Fortkamp B, Jordan P. When soundscape meets architecture. Noise Mapp. 2016;3(1):216–31.10.1515/noise-2016-0015Search in Google Scholar

[40] Brambilla G, Gallo V. QUIETE: A scheme for a new index of the environmental quality of green areas. Noise Mapp. 2016;3(1):49–58.10.1515/noise-2016-0004Search in Google Scholar

[41] Aspuru I, García I, Herranz K, Santander A. CITI-SENSE: methods and tools for empowering citizens to observe acoustic comfort in outdoor public spaces. Noise Mapp. 2016;3(1):37–48.10.1515/noise-2016-0003Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2020-09-11
Accepted: 2020-11-13
Published Online: 2021-01-27

© 2021 Jerónimo Vida Manzano et al., published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Downloaded on 7.2.2023 from
Scroll Up Arrow