Noise Haiku (series: Beauty in Noise, part 5)

Mysteries of noise.

by Dave Skipper

Introduction

Haiku (俳句). One of the many quintessentially Japanese artforms. Traditional haiku have very specific rules governing their content and construction. From Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haiku):

  • The essence of haiku is “cutting” (kiru). This is often represented by the juxtaposition of two images or ideas and a kireji (“cutting word”) between them, a kind of verbal punctuation mark which signals the moment of separation and colours the manner in which the juxtaposed elements are related.
  • Traditional haiku consist of 17 on (also known as morae though often loosely translated as “syllables”), in three phrases of 5, 7, and 5 on, respectively.
  • A kigo (seasonal reference), usually drawn from a saijiki, an extensive but defined list of such terms.
  • Modern Japanese haiku (現代俳句 gendai-haiku) are increasingly unlikely to follow the tradition of 17 on or to take nature as their subject, but the use of juxtaposition continues to be honored in both traditional and modern haiku.

Noise music is full of paradox and juxtaposition. Although for the most part noise music deserves to speak for itself (my expansive writings on this blog notwithstanding), haiku seems to me to be an appropriate word-based medium for succinctly distilling some of the mysteries of noise. So I spent some time putting a few noise haiku together, and I introduce 14 of them below. They are mainly written with the sounds and experience of a live noise music performance in mind, specifically from the ‘harsh noise’ style.

Reading tips

Haiku are by their nature meant to be slowly and quietly ingested. They are designed to be layered and thought-provoking. The more space and quiet and thought that you can give to each single haiku, the more you will appreciate it. Hopefully they provide new angles on the subject matter that you may not have considered before.

I suppose the ideal way to read the 14 haiku below would be to print them off, and read one or two a day over the next couple of weeks. I even wondered whether to publish them daily, one at a time. Anyhow, here they are, and I know you won’t be able to resist just skimming through them all now in one go!

 

Mysteries of Noise

[14 ‘Noise Haiku’ by Dave Skipper]

 

Designed to intrigue

Stimulate and resonate

These are noise haiku

 

Solitude is bliss

The silence of my own thoughts

Then delight – pure noise!

 

Dark smoky basements

Jarring noise in secret dens

Familiar sounds

 

White noise frequencies

Infinite permutations

Chaos? Potential!

 

Ambient static

Anticipation rising

Harsh noise punctuates

 

Noise like ice crystals

Sharp as nails in my ears

Exquisite, melting

 

Suffocating noise

Enveloping and choking

Breathless… with wonder

 

Moments frozen still

Of all-encompassing noise

My life stretches out

 

Immersed in the noise

I cannot escape its force

It helps me rise free

 

Noise is memory

Amniotic cognition

Once forgotten peace

 

The most abstract sounds

Strange, mysterious noises

Visceral, lucid

 

One waveform, all noise

One noise, all coalescent

Layers of details

 

Focussed noise effects

Dizzy sonic illusions

Can’t compute – hurray!

 

Louder than loudest

And still ramping it up more

Noise twin comes: silence

 

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