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ShawnSims (M, 34)
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architecture student at pratt institute
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    From michaelerule
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    Now playing SpaceCollective
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    The Vastness of our Soundscape
    “As it grows ever more complicated today, musical art seeks out combinations more dissonant, stranger, and harsher for the ear. Thus, it comes ever closer to the noise-sound.”
    Russolo

    In 1913 a prediction was made, claiming the future of our soundscape would inevitably require us to master noise. The spectrum of sound grows exponentially with our advancements in technology; continuously redefining the meaning of noise. Recent generations have a greater exposure to this process, and the musical abstraction produced has fueled this non-linear growth.



    The notion of the noise-sound suggests that instead of looking inwards toward more musical sound; we should honor the sounds of our machines; our unnatural sonic byproducts. Assuming our musical pallet is expanding in this manner; we would need a new way to describe our sounds, a typology that encompasses sounds made without purpose. An engine could be re-engineered to produce a chromatic scale; helping us make sense of our noise while simultaneously transcending this definition. Russolo offered that our future orchestras would realize mechanical mimicry and we would then have a complete soundscape.



    There is an alternate take on the history of our musical discourse; that we have achieved a complexity of sound manipulation that has expanded our horizons behind sight, possibly beyond speculation. It has become impossible to claim that the discovery of our range of sounds is dependent upon understanding noise. We find music itself has become the moderator on the definition of noise. Technology has provided the means to distort, manipulate, and morph. New instruments have created new sounds, and furthermore that sound is altered through many other forces.

    “So, another concert hall will be built surely. (Expect a new composition to be played there too.)”
    Corner



    The electric guitar alone has offered us a look into a sound range that may border “noise.” Jimi Hendrix played the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock 69’. His version featured a bomb raid and screaming produced from his guitar. This becomes a transition of a noise into music. An instrument is the channel for sound as a language morphs. Hendrix added to social, physical, political, and mental spaces that existed around him. His sound was one of a kind, not only because he played a different version of an old song but because the space(s) where he produced the sound were unique. He sought out a mental space that held a symbiotic relationship with the music, feeding off one another. These characteristics of sound fuel our discourse and its exponential growth towards “noise,” eventually blurring this boundary.

    While many instruments across the world produce a great amount of sound, the computer and its’ ability to control sound have proven mystifying in their depths. There is a simpler way to view its’ power. The movement of sound within music (i.e. gunshot sound sampling found in Notorious B.I.G., 2Pac, Nas, 50 Cent, and NWA’s productions) creates a series of ambiguous attributes that dispel Russolo’s “end-in-site discourse.” We instead find ourselves seeking the foresight and technique to (re)produce sounds in new ways.

    This inherent longing is the force that drives our musical exploration. We design and build new instruments; analog and digital. They produce more sounds that in turn feed this cyclical process. This notion of hybriding is a fundamental human characteristic. After all, our musical history is filled with this. We mix and match sounds and techniques that offer us a chance to reach a point of mutation; bridging the gap between music and noise.



    Sampling technology has provided us the means to replicate sound produced by many objects; this is a shifting of a sound’s “moment”. The growing range of sound from the computer has been an undeniable force. The computer has become a tool-turned-instrument. The variables in a structured music system generate a musical moment in space and time. This moment has physicality to it as well; a space effecting sound, and those producing the sound.

    “Styles change every year; on every street. But for Music——and is not that there the limit of my faith? : let whatever changes change. (it yet matters every bit.)”
    Corner

    This degree of variation in our music poses difficulties in describing our sound catalog, but Attali would offer us that this is a reflection of power. He claims that noise is the source of power and of the dream. The organization of sound is a direct endowment of the state of our “form.” Our form is composed of our social, political, economical, and other various spaces combined to generate the environments that we are (un)knowingly products of. The music is no different, it behaves like any other art; responding to our form with new languages, new typologies.

    “Listening to music is listening to all noise, realizing that its appropriation and control is a reflection of power, that it is essentially political. More than colors and forms, it is sounds and their arrangements that fashion societies.”
    Attali

    As he describes our sounds as power, it becomes interesting to understand what this entails. With power follows fascination, respect, and mimicry. These are the core motives behind our inherent yearning to invent and expand boundaries. As music and sound are understood to be channels of power, then those with meaning are flushed through this cycle and fed back in, while that which might be considered noise is null. With this in mind, we can understand that we in fact do not need to turn towards noise in order to fully expand our soundscape.



    We will continue to produce an ever changing landscape of sound, displaying a range of typological differences that will inevitably encompass the entire spectrum of music and sound. This is not to dispel the notion of noise, but it has little weight in our trajectory of current musical discourse. We may be heading towards an age of ubiquitous sound, where noise is no longer. Instead, we may find our music so complex, so powerful that its constituents are made of all sounds; all what we may consider noise.

    Thu, Jul 23, 2009  Permanent link

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