Noise is sound is music?
by Dave Skipper

This is a summary version of the original article What Noise?
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What is noise?
A new aesthetic, or beauty thrown out the window?

Different definitions, different spheres.
Excess volume leads to ringing in your ears.
Noise causes irritation and missed conversations,
Debilitating distractions that break your concentration.

Sensory overload:
       Too much information.
Incoherent messages:
       Distorted information.
Helpless confusion:
       Lack of information.
Inharmonious caterwauling:
       Destructive information.

Noise is disruption, impurity, glitch.
Noise is everything that does not fit.
Noise is signal undergoing corruption.
Noise is sound on the path to destruction.
Noise is the opposite of silence and peace.
Noise befits industry, conflict, disease.
Noise is simply pain, at all costs to be avoided.
…And noise is great pleasure in the ears that so behold it.

  • Noise is Sound is Music?
    • What is noise to one person is not noise to another.
    • Is noise music beyond classification?
    • There isn’t a single identifiable ‘noise scene’.
    • Noise culture is comprised of loosely connected but overlapping communities, disparate sub-cultures, experimental musicians, underground events, DIY record labels.
    • There is an incredibly wide spectrum of textures that can be called noise or noisy – both natural and man-made.
    • Percussive (aka noisy or noise-derived) sounds feature in all manner of music genres.
  • Basic categories:
    • Noise: unwanted sounds. Maybe loud, maybe stress-inducing. Noise pollution. Construction site din. Heavy metal music. Pachinko parlours. Traffic. Screaming kids. Radio static. Snoring.
    • Noisy sounds: any sounds generally characterised by the widest possible palette of timbres and a lack of melodic form. Ripping. Clattering. Sneezing. Buzzing. Scraping. Barking. Screeching.
    • Noise music: intentional use of “non-musical” sounds as a prominent or dominant part of an artist’s creative aesthetic. Harsh noise. Musique concrète. Power electronics. Field recordings. Quiet noise. Cut-up noise. Harsh noise wall.
  • Features of noise music:
    • Generating, utilising, and manipulating noise and noisy sounds as a creative, intentional sonic artform.
    • Often characterised by chaotic, discordant sounds.
    • Lack of melody, harmony or traditional structure.
    • Freedom from the rules and boundaries of what is normally understood to constitute music.
    • Cross-pollination and the evasion of categories.
  • Extreme and Exploratory Underground Music
    • Extreme. Pushing – or, better, obliterating – boundaries of speed, volume, texture, rhythm, etc.
    • Exploratory. Seeking new sonic territories, new styles, new textures, new combinations, new instruments, new experiences.
    • Underground. Out of the mainstream. Not seeking status or success. Passionate, DIY, personal, unique, unshackled creativity.
    • Music. Traditionally defined as melody, harmony, and rhythm; sometimes plus timbre. If music is about creativity in sound, then why not drop some of those features?
  • Analysing noise
    • Should noise music be analysed and discussed?
    • What place is there for ideology and words in the world of noise?
    • Escaping from ideology is impossible.
    • I decide to embrace and pursue words, ideas, and analysis as I ponder noise and engage in noise-making.
    • I believe that words can massively enrich our participation in noise, whether as a listener or as a practising ‘noisician’.

(clip from the Marx Brothers film Horse Feathers, 1932)

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1 Response to What Noise? POCKET-SIZED SUMMARY

  1. Pingback: What Noise? (series: The Word On Noise, part 2) | The Word on Noise

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