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Old 03.27.2006, 07:42 PM   #1
noumenal
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I gave the presentation that I posted about earlier on free improvisation today and the reception wasn't too great, as I expected. Probably because I did a good job of pointing out the negatives of free improv - the way it always produces the same forms and gestures and so on. Composers don't like the idea of completely "un-composed" music, I guess. I kind of agree with them.

But, one dipshit in the group raised his hand and asked me to define noise. So I said, more or less, "Unpitched or disorganized sound." He told me that he had a different definition. He said that noise was sound that wasn't inentional as music, that is, noise is sound without an artistic intention. He said that birds singing is noise, using his definition.

So I asked him, if someone sculpted unpitched screeching sounds and called it music (and I played him some Merzbow), was it no longer noise? And he just sat there not saying anything. He doesn't fucking get that his definition is a negative definition of art and not really a useful definition of noise. A bird singing isn't art, but it's also NOT NOISE. It's pitched sound without a human artistic intention.

When you decide to call all non-artistic sounds "noise", you're mixing different definitions of the word noise. There is an acoustic definition and then there is the everyday definition - noise being any unpleasant non-artistic sound. This guy really pissed me off. There is nothing more annoying than a dumbass who is parading his personal definition of "art" as an alternative to something it can't be an alternative to. My acoustical definition of "noise" was well-suited for what I was talking about, but he was acting like his silly idea of what "art" is is better. They're two different things. Jesus.
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Old 03.27.2006, 07:47 PM   #2
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i consider unwanted sounds noise as well as the name of a genre of music, which is clearly wanted,

its ok for words to have more definitions, also that guy in your class sounds like a wanker ignore him,
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Old 03.27.2006, 07:48 PM   #3
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according to my dictionary the definition of noise is:

n a din; clamour; a harsh sound. * vt to make public,
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Old 03.27.2006, 07:50 PM   #4
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Yes, there are different definitions of noise. This guy on UBUWeb gives three:

http://www.ubu.com/papers/noise.html

His acoustic definition is the one I was using. It's ok for it to subjectively mean, "unpleasant sounds", colloquially. But music can be unpleasant. A bird singing isn't unpleasant, oh well, I'll just shut up.
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Old 03.27.2006, 08:04 PM   #5
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to me listening to harsh noise is pleasent, noise is beautiful

dont remember who said it but the quote goes something like "if by noise you mean, painful or unpleasent sounds... then pop music is noise to me"

a birds chirp does come with artistic intervention, the bird is the artist. singing you a beautiful song
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Old 03.27.2006, 08:04 PM   #6
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"Noise is sound without an artistic intention."

Ha ha ha ha ha.....but yeah, I guess that's the general response you'd expect.
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Old 03.27.2006, 08:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noumenal
Composers don't like the idea of completely "un-composed" music, I guess. I kind of agree with them.

I can see where they're coming from, but personally I find it exhilerating.
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Old 03.27.2006, 08:25 PM   #8
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To there theres two diffrent definitions of noise:

1: unpleasant or unwanted sounds (i.e. white noise, racket)
2: a form of music where techniques are used to gain normally unpleasant or displeasing sounds.

Noise is extremism.
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Old 03.27.2006, 08:43 PM   #9
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Thats Lydia Lunch's quote, noumenal.
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Old 03.27.2006, 08:55 PM   #10
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I disagree. Noise is sound that is found to be unmusical or dissonant according to popular taste and traditional music theory. So birds chirping is noise, and a CD full of pneumatic drills and detuned guitars with feedback loops is noise.

And really, once something is decided to have artistic value, it really isn't noise, but music. Noise music is referred to as noise as the negative word other people apply to it. Experimental is a much more proper term.

Also, why do you feel a bird chirping is not artistic? If the first painter to randomly throw paint at a canvas was making art, than surely chaos's throwing a bird chirp into your ear it artistic.
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Old 03.27.2006, 09:16 PM   #11
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i vote for noumenal

have nothing to add really. it would be superfluous.

excellent post.
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Old 03.27.2006, 09:34 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpectralJulianIsNotDead
I disagree. Noise is sound that is found to be unmusical or dissonant according to popular taste and traditional music theory. So birds chirping is noise, and a CD full of pneumatic drills and detuned guitars with feedback loops is noise.

And really, once something is decided to have artistic value, it really isn't noise, but music. Noise music is referred to as noise as the negative word other people apply to it. Experimental is a much more proper term.

Also, why do you feel a bird chirping is not artistic? If the first painter to randomly throw paint at a canvas was making art, than surely chaos's throwing a bird chirp into your ear it artistic.

So a "CD full of pneumatic drills and detuned guitars with feedback loops" that has "artistic value" is "experimental", but a "CD full of pneumatic drills and detuned guitars with feedback loops" that doesn't have "artistic value" is noise? Or are they both noise, but since the first has "artistic value", it's best not to call it that, because of the negative connotations of the term?

Anyway, about the birds. I love birds and read books about birdsong and stuff. But for me, art is something that humans do. Birdsong is beautiful and can be appreciated aesthetically, but it is not music. It's musical, but not music. How can birds chirping be "unmusical" and artistic at the same time? You say that birds chirping is "unmusical or dissonant", but also that it is "artistic". So is birds chirping "expiremental music" or is it "noise music"? Does it depend on the skill of the bird?
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Old 03.28.2006, 06:01 AM   #13
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From my non-trained perspective, I always understood the normal definition of 'noise' to be 'any unwanted sound'. So I would take the definition of 'noise' as in deliberate noise to be something like 'the deliberate artistic creation of sounds that would noramlly be considered extraneous', but I'm making it up as I go along really. That also means that any band with any feedback at all are making 'noise music', so that's unsatisfactory. So I could amend my first thughts to 'any piece of audio entertainment that relies mainly upon the deliberate artistic creation of sounds that would noramlly be considered extraneous'. Which seems closer to what I want.

It also excludes birdsong, as it presumably always has a purpose, rather than being purely for 'entertainment'.
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Old 03.28.2006, 07:56 AM   #14
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The problem with using the word 'noise', musicologically speaking, is that it has several different referents, usually dependant upon context and the interpretations of the individual.

Noise (1) - That which is unpleasant to the individual (a subjective interpretation based on a persons taste - I find Celine Dion to be noise; my family consider SY to be noise, in this sense)

Noise (2) - That which falls outside of the expected tonality of an instrument (String scrapes, feedback, artificially emphasised overtones). Technically I believe this is referred to, by the spectralists and the likes of Cage and Xenakis, as the 'enharmonic' - that which is outside of conventional Western harmonic and melodic notation but may still be organised into a coherent artwork.

Noise (3) - That which is opposed to silence. Under a Cage-ian understanding of sound in general, there is no silence to be opposed - all sound is noise/ all noise is sound; all of this may, with modern technology, be re-organised into 'pleasing' shapes. To whom this is pleasing relies upon the skill of the composer - Cage, Ives, Xenakis, Schaefer, Parmegiani (etc) are exceptionally adept at the compositional re-configuring of these 'noises' into a complete artwork.

Noise (4) - Any loud sound - This is the alternative to a Cageian approach, that is to say, any sound which goes beyond the normative thresholds of background sound - Drills, industry in general, etc.

Noise (5) - Sounds, usually of a high volume, which fall outside of the accepted norms of a societies musical endeavour - melodic inventions which trangress the tacit sonic-psychic-geography of an indivuals relationship to his/her culture. This is distinct from the above because it comes under the caveat of contrived art, rather than incidental sounds in general day-to-day life.

Noise (6) - A musical genre which relies upon dynamic, non-homogenous interpretations of timbre, pitch and volume as its basis rather than conventional melodic or harmonic relationships between homogenous entities (notes).


There are no doubt many other referents - however, I think you're never going to get through to this guy - I've met lots like him, and it's nearly impossible to make people see that their referent for 'noise' may not be commensurable with every referent for 'noise'. Unless you want to give him Silence, which helped some of my friends a little.
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Old 03.28.2006, 08:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noumenal
So a "CD full of pneumatic drills and detuned guitars with feedback loops" that has "artistic value" is "experimental", but a "CD full of pneumatic drills and detuned guitars with feedback loops" that doesn't have "artistic value" is noise? Or are they both noise, but since the first has "artistic value", it's best not to call it that, because of the negative connotations of the term?

Anyway, about the birds. I love birds and read books about birdsong and stuff. But for me, art is something that humans do. Birdsong is beautiful and can be appreciated aesthetically, but it is not music. It's musical, but not music. How can birds chirping be "unmusical" and artistic at the same time? You say that birds chirping is "unmusical or dissonant", but also that it is "artistic". So is birds chirping "expiremental music" or is it "noise music"? Does it depend on the skill of the bird?

Artistic value is in the ear of the beholder. Chuck Berry is noise to Ward Cleaver but music to Eddie Haskel. Just as Einsturzende Neubauten for example is music to me but noise to 90% of the US.

It doesn't depend on the skill of the bird. To a bird it can be music, communication, or mating calls, to you it is nothing, to someone with a headache it is noise, and to me it is music.

Noise music is an oxymoron. The only reason we call it noise is because that is what others call it. If you listen to Neubauten recreationally, you are breaking the definition of it being noise, so it would be ridiculous to call it noise. Unless of course you don't like it, but you want to listen to it because you are into "Noize" and you are purposefully making yourself feel uncomfortable and giving yourself a headache. In which case I think you should see a therapist.

Calling experimental music noise is like calling modernist art degenerate. And thats what the Nazis did, you don't want to be a Nazi do you Noumenal?
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