A BRIEF HISTORY OF NOISE

In this series I take a new and original look at the origins, progress, and destination of noise from eternity past to eternity future.

A Brief History of Noise traces the arc of history according to the broad sweep of the Bible’s story as it relates to sound, noise, music, and the creative arts in general. Throughout the whole series I ask myself: what are the implications and inspirations for noise music in particular?

I follow the overarching motifs of Creation-Fall-Redemption. These motifs feature heavily in many Christian writings that seek to view our world and its history from a Biblical perspective. A fourth is often added, Restoration (also labelled Consummation or New Creation), though this is sometimes subsumed under Redemption. I add a fifth, coming before Creation, namely Pre-Creation.

This is how I term these motifs in this series:

  1. Pre-Creation -> Chimeric Noise
  2. Creation -> Creation of Noise
  3. Fall -> Curse of Noise
  4. Redemption -> Cure for Noise
  5. Restoration/Consummation -> Culmination of Noise

When I started this series I thought I would take just one article for each of the five sections, and so I didn’t bother with an introductory article. However, even while attempting to remain ‘brief’ I soon discovered that there is so much to say that the series will extend to probably at least 20 articles. And so on this page I am pulling all the links together into one place.

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#1 CHIMERIC NOISE

Part 1: Before time and space

What hints or roots of the possibilities of noise prior to the existence of this universe can be gleaned from contemplating the eternal nature of God? That’s the question I start to try and answer in the first article.

#2 CREATION OF NOISE

Part 1: Noise and God’s transcendence
Part 2: Noise and God’s word
Part 3: Noise and God’s image
Part 4: Noise and God’s evaluation
Part 5: Noise and God’s plan

What do we learn about the origins, nature, and function of noise from the opening two chapters of Genesis at the start of the Bible? This is foundational to a Christian understanding of and approach to noise. I also consider how noise music can draw inspiration from the structures and principles of the Bible’s account of Creation.

[Supplementary topics not covered here would include a survey of competing ANE (Ancient Near East) creation stories as well as other pagan, evolutionary, and alternative theories of origins, in particular in relation to the question of ‘first noises’ and purposes of noise. I would like to get to this in the future, but that will be outside my ‘brief’ brief here. 😉 ]

#3 CURSE OF NOISE

Part 1: Noise and God’s warning
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

What is wrong with the world? How and why did it get this way? How can we understand and explain all the negative forms and consequences of noise that overwhelmingly pervade our world and our humanity? How does noise relate to ethics and human relationships? In these articles I explore the Bible’s story of mankind’s fall into sin and its consequences for both natural and man-made noise.

#4 CURE FOR NOISE

(forthcoming…)

The heart of the Christian faith is Jesus Christ: his eternal nature as Son of God, and his incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. We believe that he changes everything, and that his death and resurrection are the pivot of history. What do these things mean for noise? How can ‘negative noise’ be dealt with, and how can ‘positive noise’ be transformed and enhanced? And what does this mean practically, not just theoretically or metaphorically?

#5 CULMINATION OF NOISE

(forthcoming…)

What do the Christian doctrines of final judgment, heaven, hell, and the new earth have to say about the final and eternal destiny of noise in all its forms? What are the ultimate purposes and destinations of noise and noise music: physically, ethically, socially, and spiritually?

# CONCLUSION

(forthcoming…)

At the end I pull the strands together and summarise my conclusions. Here I suggest some ways forward for how to listen to noise (whether that be annoying noise, or noisy sounds, or noise music) and for how to make noise (music) that may well differ from and/or overlap with modes you are currently familiar with.

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** Additional spin-off sub-series:

# CURIOUS NOISES

(forthcoming…)

While the above sections span the most critical junctures of history, the Bible also sets forth a number of other intermediate events which play an important role in the history of redemption and revelation. Primary among these include: 1) the Great Flood, 2) the Tower of Babel, 3) the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai, and 4) the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost after Jesus’ ascension to heaven.

Each of these events were accompanied by dramatic noise. In this sub-series I link each event into the historical sweep marked out in the prior 5 sections, then analyse the significance and meanings of these noises, and finally suggest some of their implications for noise music.

# CULTURE OF NOISE

(forthcoming…)

Finally, what about the roots and histories of modern-day noise music and its related and parallel musics and non-musics? While this is a vast topic that is largely outside this blog’s remit, it would be remiss of me not to engage with what is obviously an essential component of any treatment of the history of noise. Here I give an introductory overview and assessment of noise music’s story, but from within the Bible-based framework that the rest of the series lays out.

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