Sunday, January 3, 2021

Noise Music

We could say that there are two kinds of noise music: making music out of noise, and making noise out of music. The first is a standard media model of co-opting the unknown into a programmed channel -- pop songs now heavily employ noise and hacking sounds. The second option is more esoteric, as it involves jamming communication.

The 1948 theory of communication (Claude Shannon) specifies noise as a blockage perpendicular to the narrative flow from transmitter to receiver. In paper circuits, however, noises are central; they are the cellular signal sources, interlocked rhizomally. It is a philosophical leap to shun information and communicate with alingual noises. The ideal circuit board limits noise, but in paper circuits, noise is unlimited.

In the Shannon’s 1948 model, the ideal synthesizer has a “silent channel”: a path of communication insulated from outside interference. In a paper circuit, there is no silence and there is no single channel; variously connected noises are like landmarks on its map.

John Cage wrote “4’33”, his infamous “silent piece”, to draw attention to the often ignored noises in the concert hall - a cough, a shuffle. Schematized as an imaginary synthesizer, the hall is full of nodes twittering in relation to each other. The typical modern synthesizer abstracts electronic sound shapes and places them against silence. In contrast, the handmade paper circuit is defined by its materials. Rather than the interaction of shapes and silence, it is a rich mulch of noises interlocking with other noises.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully said 👏 I agree that the material is a part of the design, way more than merely a carrier. Have a happy and creative 2021, Peter!