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I make stuff. - Design Student by day, Freelance Composer / Game Dev by night

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Level 16 Musician
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A few thoughts on "noise"

2016-12-05 12:40:38 by ForgottenDawn

That's right. "Noise". With quotation marks.

Let's be honest for a sec. Putting a few exceptions aside, my tracks have been featuring noises of all kinds. Various background static samples, radio chatter, glitches, lo-fi distortion, digital sounds, found instruments, industrial sounds, anything that can be arranged and put on my DAW.

To me, these sounds are an integral part of my compositions, and can't be "cleansed" from their essence. In fact, often times, noises constitute the base upon which I build the musical pillars of my tracks.

As a matter of fact, we can't really ignore these sounds. They're all around us. When we step outside, we're literally bombed with sounds from all kinds of sources. Loud, roaring, invasive, or quiet, subtle, pleasant. When is a sound interpreted as noise? When is something noisy? When is noise musical? After all, it is not a groundbreaking idea. People like John Cage made us think about it, and half a century earlier, Futurists.

I'm not here to bring up that kind of argument, between what's musical and what's noisy. However, I'd like you to reflect about the importance of including such noises within the context of artistic exploration and expression. Personally, sounds of all sorts and shapes are a gold mine of possibilities.

Ever since I started composing, in late 2009, I have been thinking deeply about the possibility of experimenting with noise as a way to look beyond boundaries and so-called standards, conventions. The reason I keep emphasizing the word noise is because after all, whether you disagree with its definition or not, its very existence is down to subjectivity and the need to express a common ground about something that, at its core, is a mere aural source.

So, what does that imply? When you break down the individual components of a musical track, they are like building blocks, each of them playing a role in the bigger picture. When you look at it this way, everything looks pretty much the same. They're all sounds, whether it's a violin playing the 9th Symphony or a jackhammer picked from the streets. Such blasphemy! They're all piled-up boxes — some might be bigger than others, but the substance is the same for everybody. For me, there is no such thing as music and noise. That is simply not my problem as a sharer of content, or even as a listener.

It is ultimately down to a choice, and like all choices, indeed, they carry their own consequences.

I have been meeting a lot of different people on the internet. I love talking to them, for better or worse. Sometimes, I purposefully push the edge by publishing tracks that have a lot of noise in them (think of sixteen and my Hyperion loops). And it's great! I enjoy seeing people participate in some way, it makes those experiments a very interesting social experience. Some may lament the fact that those tracks are too short, which I tend to take as a compliment. Some others might want a "noiseless" version of a few tracks (trust me, I've been asked that), which would be incredibly offensive if I were a pretentious anticonformist asshat. It puts a smile on my face, instead. :)

It doesn't really take a lot of time to establish this kind of creative freedom. In the end, it's about exploring possibilities, about having fun with the world around us, growing as thinking individuals. It surely isn't like a switch that you can turn on and off at will. You can't suddenly start liking certain things, but that's besides the point. Some things are often difficult to approach for a reason. Like this. (It's loud, turn down the volume)

Are your ears bleeding enough? Good, try this.

It's an interesting phenomenon to look past the point of merely liking/disliking novelty. Sure, it's not like I go crazy for the aforementioned links, but I still appreciate the fact that they exist for us to comment upon and at least make the effort of seeing things from different perspectives.

These days, there exist such a vastness of information at the tip of a finger that I can't blame people for feeling lost whether they decide to step outside their comfort zone. And... it's OK, really. We've all kind of rejected change at some point in our lives. Human beings tend to be creatures of habit. We tend to detest the new if it isn't directly coming from ourselves.

Or maybe we just don't like some things.

One thing is for sure, however. Noise is a fundamental part of our experience, and I think it would be very reductive to give it a dry, textbook definition. There's so much beneath the surface, is there? It would be a shame to let it slip past us.

Thanks for reading.

//FD


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