Sunday, March 27, 2011

1992-12-09 Pro-Noise

Intonarumori-internoImage via WikipediaA lot of noise. It thinks it is music, but it is really noise. Or is it more than that? Almost all of this is new at the time.

From Dane Rudhyar at

An apparently basic distinction can be made between noises, recognizable natural sounds (like animal cries, the sound of a running brook or waves breaking on a sandy beach), and, strictly speaking, musical sounds. In the past, musical sounds were produced by the human voice and musical instruments — musical because their use normally was restricted to the production of musical sounds. Noises did not belong to the field of music; nature's sounds were used very rarely and only episodically, but recently their use has increased. What then decides whether a sound can be considered musical? The answer is, the culture of a particular group of human beings.
The term culture may be interpreted at several levels of meaning. In this case It refers to the expectation which people conditioned by a particular culture have of hearing certain sounds or not hearing others. It refers to what has become customary or traditional in a number of definable circumstances — for example, attending a church service, listening to a troubadour returning from the Holy Land, or crowding a modern concert hall to hear a specially trained virtuoso or an orchestra. The specific circumstances in which music is heard are very important because, at least originally, they have much to do with the "musical" character of the sounds heard and the psychic or personal responses of those hearing them. As these cultural circumstances alter, the possibility arises of a corresponding change in what constitutes a musical sound. Sooner or later not only the musicality of various types of sounds, but also the expected character of combinations of these sounds (that is, musical "form") changes in order to satisfy a new kind of desire — the desire to meet psychological needs aroused by new social circumstances, particularly a new type of family life, education, and daily work.

Music/noise included: Hafler Trio, Etante Dons, Asmus Tietchens, PGR, Blackhouse, Muslimgauze and a lot more.

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1 comment:

Sarinne Fox said...

Interesting piece!

I'm curious whether the difference between music and noise is all cultural, or if there could be certain sounds that anyone would consider "noise." (Leaving aside for the moment sounds that are uncomfortably loud.)

Given the wide range of sounds that different people call "music," and given that some people vehemently despise the same sounds that others enjoy and call "music," I tend to think that it's a cultural, or even an individual, thing: One person's music is another person's noise. But I'd be very interested in seeing any studies about sounds that are universally considered "noise."

Thanks for posting these programs from the past. There's some good material out there that deserves broader exposure even if it wasn't created expressly for the internet. :)