Noise in Modern Art
Noise. Unwanted sound. In engineering, it's information that interferes with the transmission of a signal. Noise is sound without order, chaotic sound. We're surrounded by it: the thundering of machines on the street outside, the noise of the machines in our houses and the places we work.
Noise is the opposite of music. Music, we like. Noise, we don't. Who would want to combine the two?
But that's just what lots of new popular music does. Industrial music copies the cacophonous noises of factories and puts them to a beat.
Techno music, the music of synthesizers and computers, is a collage of sound effects copied -- sometimes directly recorded by "sampler" machines -- from the racket of technological life. Techno music erases the boundary between noise and music. Why?
Novelist Russell Smith (How Insensitive; Noise) devises a sound essay examining Futurism, minimalism, poetic collage, abstract painting, and the most listener-unfriendly music ever recorded, the style called Rotterdam, beloved of art students and disenchanted punk-rockers.
Listen to this old-but-excellent 67 minute documentary here. (64kbps mp3, 30MB)
Read the transcript here.