What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Discussing gear, production, and ideas for making noise music. Enough JMJ, let's rock like Merzbow!

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AuralAntithesis
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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by AuralAntithesis » Sat Jun 06, 2020 12:45 pm

I have been listening to noise for almost 15 years now, I am no expert. but here is my 2 cents. i have always liked weird music and the more weird the better.
One of my favorite things is indeed all the variations on the theme, Dark Ambient is one of my favorites, and the one most of my productions tend to lean toward. a lot of dark ambient and semi-industrial types of noise can have a lot of "musical" elements.

Noise concerts can be awesome when you have some opener that is like a Doom folk band, moves on to insane free jazz and ends with some berserk power electronics or harsh noise set.

Most of the time i like to space out / meditate and let my mind wander. This can be quite trans-formative.
I do love the performance art aspect of noise shows, I like to think about how they are getting the sounds they are producing, or what the personal motivations of the artist are. there used to be a bunch of DIY spaces willing to let noise artists perform in Seattle the "scene" feels pretty broken up at this point though.

There is a podcast called NOISEXTRA that can give a lot of context and recommendations for noise music.

one of my favorites. Seattle noise legends.
Blue Sabbath Black Cheer (much like kraut rock / techno must be played LOUD -crushingBASS- for maximum feels/emotion) :sb:
That's the most diabolical looking piece of equipment I've ever seen.
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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by BetweenTheEyes » Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:47 am

Hello,

new to this forum and I'm excited that my first contribution can be about such a topic - it's an interesting question and I'd like to answer a little differently:

I got into noise in my late teens in the second half of the 90s and it was part of a development to explore ever more extreme styles of music such as crustpunk, grindcore, powerviolence, death metal, black metal...I have always considered noise to be music for those people who are looking for the most extreme, and if you say that you are more of a rock-listener then until a couple of years ago I would have said it's no surprise that you don't "get" noise (I will re-phrase this in a couple of sentences). So what got me into it at first was the fascination for the intensity of sound, listening to it simply blew me away in an almost physical way and it was a wild ride for my brain.

Something else that fascinated me was that I had no idea how those noise-guys made all these sounds. I then learned to use guitar pedals, but it was only later that I got into synths and found out that these can do all kinds of noise too. Now I'm taking the step from keyboard synths into the modular world, and I have been surprised how much noise is made in most demo videos for modules. And since I'm pretty sure that most people into modular synths are not into extreme styles of metal and hardcorepunk and don't feel about noise the way I do, and don't have that background of wanting ever more extreme sounds, I now do suppose it is very much possible to be a listener of more regular styles (be it rock, techno, whatever) and still to appreciate noise by coming from a modular synth approach.

If you say you can't get into it, well, there obviously is no need to. As others here have already described, many of us who enjoy noise can listen to it in a sort of contemplative way. If I recall correctly, Merzbow himself once explained that he'd wear ear protection when outside on the streets of Tokyo but that he'd consider his own music soothing to the ears. I also like the sort of psychedelic trip that it can be or like the soundtrack to a dark sci-fi movie.

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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by stepvhen » Sat Jul 11, 2020 11:50 pm

I started making my own tracks around 2012. I made some recordings, formed and participated in an online noise collective, and gave out like, 8 tapes total. At some point there was a shift, and I was able to actually feel I had expressed myself through the music I was creating, instead of just creating a thing outside of myself. My "later works", if you can call it that, were more focused on conveying a meaning through this genre that is often without one.

I think what drew me to noise (making it) is that I was frustrated with my previous attempts at making music, or making at in general, which I had been trying to gel with for years and years. Suddenly, I could make a thing that was cannonically accepted as a form of art, and I was able to find a means to express myself through that. It was magical.

But all that said, I don't listen to (harsh) noise much these days. Only a few records I know well (Sissy Spacek S/T, Land of Lurches). Merzbow's Venerology always has brought on the same physiological feelings of my anxiety attacks, and I just don't need that anymore. And I have strong reservations on the noise scene in general, both producers and fans. For example, I love the sounds of The Rita, but I can't reconsile that with the almost-definitely-fetishistic aesthetic cocktail of sharks and ballet dancers; there's something going on there and I just don't want to investigate further because I want to keep enjoying the music as much as I can.

I like noise as a concept though because I think it more fully explores one of the limits of musical expression, and there are ideas and nuances in noise tracks that would not (or cannot) come about in other forms/genres. I can also now use it as a bar to measure other music against.

Also any noise track/album will develop a "hook" if you listen to it enough. Using the "music is/as patterns" idea, the whole arythmic track would become the whole pattern, and repeat listenings will reinforce that pattern, and noise becomes like radio music.

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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by Pyrrhix » Wed Sep 16, 2020 10:05 pm

There are lots of specific things about noise that I like, and much of that has been said by others in this thread. One thing I particularly like about listening to noise though is that the experience is often more akin to a physical sensation than a story. Music is often about what happens next (usually within a relatively small handful of possibilities), broad arcs... storytelling basically. Lyrics make this effect more pronounced. Good noise, on the other hand, just feels good in the way a physical pleasure does, immediately, in that moment in a way that music usually does not. Also, it's a pure enjoyment of texture, which I prefer high above melody and arrangement.

If anyone is looking for a great intro to noise music, I recommend this classic compilation. Such a better introduction than Pulse Demon or any other non-stop searing onslaught that gets recommended because of its extremity and novelty rather than its quality.


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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by thelowerrhythm » Thu Sep 17, 2020 2:10 am

Ambient creates space, noise fills it.* I don't do well with space.

*For me.
Last edited by thelowerrhythm on Thu Sep 17, 2020 3:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by carbonhazard » Thu Sep 17, 2020 3:18 am

thelowerrhythm wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 2:10 am
Ambient creates space, noise fills it. I don't do well with space.
I've heard this before and I disagree. There's plenty of noise that creates a space, while still being too aggressive and mutable to be considered ambient.

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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by thelowerrhythm » Thu Sep 17, 2020 4:05 am

carbonhazard wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 3:18 am
thelowerrhythm wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 2:10 am
Ambient creates space, noise fills it. I don't do well with space.
I've heard this before and I disagree. There's plenty of noise that creates a space, while still being too aggressive and mutable to be considered ambient.
You are 100% right. Somehow it lobbed off the vast majority of my post. What did get posted is just a generalization about my personal experience with noise, which is definitely all about the distraction; something I find really helpful with anxiety. However, like you're saying, as a composer I've tried to create the space-filling aspects a number of times that have failed and instead created something meditative. I'm very curious about the line that's drawn there, as I find one side of it very therapeutic, and the other not so much.

"too aggressive and mutable to be considered ambient" is a great description.

Below is the result of a piece of software I designed to try and fulfill my noise wishes, but wound up creating semi-generative, looping, rhythmic textures that got far closer to drone (in some ways, anyway) than what I was after. Ironically this led me to an interest in drone.

"Ah yeah, you’ve got that strange blend of apathy and self-flagellation that somehow gets you where you want to go."

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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by KSS » Thu Sep 17, 2020 11:54 am

Awesome thread! Thanks to everyone who's shared!

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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by gelabs » Thu Sep 17, 2020 12:15 pm

Code: Select all

aplay -c 2 -f S16_LE -r 48000 /var/log/*.log
:p
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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by dooj88 » Fri Sep 18, 2020 8:18 am

thelowerrhythm wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 4:05 am
carbonhazard wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 3:18 am
thelowerrhythm wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 2:10 am
Ambient creates space, noise fills it. I don't do well with space.
I've heard this before and I disagree. There's plenty of noise that creates a space, while still being too aggressive and mutable to be considered ambient.
You are 100% right. Somehow it lobbed off the vast majority of my post. What did get posted is just a generalization about my personal experience with noise, which is definitely all about the distraction; something I find really helpful with anxiety. However, like you're saying, as a composer I've tried to create the space-filling aspects a number of times that have failed and instead created something meditative. I'm very curious about the line that's drawn there, as I find one side of it very therapeutic, and the other not so much.

"too aggressive and mutable to be considered ambient" is a great description.

Below is the result of a piece of software I designed to try and fulfill my noise wishes, but wound up creating semi-generative, looping, rhythmic textures that got far closer to drone (in some ways, anyway) than what I was after. Ironically this led me to an interest in drone.

do you do the artwork for your tracks as well? they all look cool, but the colors on the one you linked are beautiful

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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by MoyaMoya » Fri Sep 18, 2020 8:23 am

I enjoy the endless possibilities :omg:

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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by thelowerrhythm » Fri Sep 18, 2020 11:06 pm

dooj88 wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 8:18 am
do you do the artwork for your tracks as well? they all look cool, but the colors on the one you linked are beautiful
Thanks! I do, and really appreciate you saying so. I also really like the palette on that one. I'd use it again if it didn't feel like it'd be too visually tied to that one.
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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by Nelson Baboon » Sat Sep 19, 2020 7:58 am

I don't want to be very long winded, and have given myself the project here of trying to compress my thoughts on this to their essentials. I will likely fail....

I don't listen to enough music in general these days, and generally when I have the time, I choose to make it myself. My appreciation for noise music has developed over quite a few years, along with my appreciation for the arguments and music of (in my case) Cage and Xenakis. I have totally lost track of musical genres, and (partially because of this insecurity/inability choose to disregard them). I suppose in some sense, my appreciation for making what others have called 'noise', often, admittedly in the pejorative sense, is thinking, resulting in some acrimonious arguments on this forum, that the so-called necessary components of music are not necessary at all. The story that one tells oneself is often a convenience, and I"m sure with mine, my inability to adapt to and compose song structures, and evolving along with my insecurities, played some role. But I found that when I finally realized, "shit, I don't need to compose melodies and song structures, and I don't need to learn traditional music theory, etc", it was a revelation.

I mean, I guess I'm referring to the tension between the notion that "one must learn the rules in order to break them" and feeling an obligation to at least try to learn those rules despite not having any natural inclination, and the fact that this self evolution led me to realize that, in fact, this is one of those 'truisms' that isn't true. And then, allowing myself to try to break these rules - find beauty in harsh, non-melodic, non-rhythmic in the usual sense, sounds, was quite freeing.

And that's the thing. It's always about beauty. Beauty in 'ugliness'. Beauty in beauty. Finding what you find beautiful, and questioning authority. Because so much of what we 'learn' is propaganda in a very strong sense.

I don't know if that made much sense at all. It's just an early morning attempt to try to answer this question for myself.

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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by KSS » Sat Sep 19, 2020 8:11 am

Well said, NB! :tu:

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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by pedals » Sat Sep 19, 2020 7:25 pm

ok here's my rant.
Noise compositions I'm attracted to have a very personal signature coming from the artists. Like a release of frustration or fabricating a sonic space to retreat too, sometimes with no gaps or space for anything but the blanket of sound. It's sound art really. I also find I can draw a parallel between noise (creative) and abstract expressionism whether it be painting or sculpture. I like conventional composed music just as much but I see no difference if it provokes an emotional response within you. Neil young once said "Love is Endured", I think he meant the love you find for anything. This applies particularly to noise. Sometimes it's not pleasant or easy to listen to in the conventional sense and it isn't always aimed at the pleasure centre of the mind like food or sex, there's no instant gratification, but it does give you a sense of deep satisfaction when it is endured because that's sometimes the only way you can digest it.
To decipher the dissonance requires deep listening and that is very rewarding for me.

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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by funeralcake » Sat Sep 19, 2020 9:07 pm

Nelson Baboon wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 7:58 am
The story that one tells oneself is often a convenience, and I"m sure with mine, my inability to adapt to and compose song structures, and evolving along with my insecurities, played some role. But I found that when I finally realized, "shit, I don't need to compose melodies and song structures, and I don't need to learn traditional music theory, etc", it was a revelation.

I mean, I guess I'm referring to the tension between the notion that "one must learn the rules in order to break them" and feeling an obligation to at least try to learn those rules despite not having any natural inclination, and the fact that this self evolution led me to realize that, in fact, this is one of those 'truisms' that isn't true. And then, allowing myself to try to break these rules - find beauty in harsh, non-melodic, non-rhythmic in the usual sense, sounds, was quite freeing.
This reads a lot like my own experience with "finding" and/or "falling into" noise.

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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by KSS » Sun Sep 20, 2020 8:26 am

pedals wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 7:25 pm
ok here's my rant.
Noise compositions I'm attracted to have a very personal signature coming from the artists. Like a release of frustration or fabricating a sonic space to retreat too, sometimes with no gaps or space for anything but the blanket of sound. It's sound art really. I also find I can draw a parallel between noise (creative) and abstract expressionism whether it be painting or sculpture. I like conventional composed music just as much but I see no difference if it provokes an emotional response within you. Neil young once said "Love is Endured", I think he meant the love you find for anything. This applies particularly to noise. Sometimes it's not pleasant or easy to listen to in the conventional sense and it isn't always aimed at the pleasure centre of the mind like food or sex, there's no instant gratification, but it does give you a sense of deep satisfaction when it is endured because that's sometimes the only way you can digest it.
To decipher the dissonance requires deep listening and that is very rewarding for me.
Thank you for this. It really resonates with me. The whole post, and the underlined is IMO especially well said. Two recollections came up, one recent one far in the past.

Had a mate who simply hated the sounds of birds in the morning. HATED them. In an effort to understand how *anyone* could *hate* morning birdsong, I started truly listening to them. In ways I hadn't before. And I came to understand what my mate was expressing.

Last month they replaced the main waterline for our long street. Dawn to dusk, every day, loud heavy equipment construction noise of many types, with low frequency physical rumblings too. Jackhammers, Air compressors hissing, compaxtors, screeching steel plates and other high freq too from WTF I don't know. In all rhythms from structured, repeating to random and chaos.
Too loud to be ignored, too long lasting to avoid. Simpy had to be endured. All kinds of emotions flowing as a result.

Related to that, feeling the difference between noise made by others and when i'm the one doing it. How the 'control' aspect -real or imagined- enters into the level of appeal.

I have a habit -not always appreciated by housemates!- of pressing random keys on gear I walk by. I'm not looking to make music, but I need to hear some sound. Preferably unexpected. Like a child who sees the piano and can't help but go over and press both hands down on a bunch of keys at once.
No musical intent, just a need for sound. For noise.

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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by strettara » Sun Sep 20, 2020 8:44 am

In answer to the original question, nothing. Nothing recommends noise to me. Anything I like, enjoy or am interested in has a musical quality that disqualifies it from being considered noise.

Having said that, I was intrigued by it some years ago as a novel experience, just as I was interested in drones and random sounds. None of them do anything for me anymore.
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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by thelowerrhythm » Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:06 pm

strettara wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 8:44 am
Anything I like, enjoy or am interested in has a musical quality that disqualifies it from being considered noise.
This is a really compelling statement. I often find myself trying to create displeasing sounds but never quite get there. That's what "noise" is as I might define it now and again. Maybe I don't know how to make the right choices.
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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by joeboy » Fri Sep 25, 2020 9:55 pm

When I was a child I'd hold my ear against the neck of a bass guitar and listen to the harmonic subtleties that resulted from attacking the same note in various ways. I didn't have the math to understand it, or even a name to attach to it, but it felt like I had a window to a secret psychedelic world that most people overlooked for some reason. I'd do it for hours at a time. I never actually learned to play a bass guitar.

I was onboard with the idea of noise music the first time it was played for me. I was so happy to learn there were actual musicians focusing on timbre through so many adventurous approaches. Up until then I just assumed the strange sounds that obsessed me as a child were gimmicks with no musical application.

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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by easphyx » Tue Sep 29, 2020 1:58 pm

It brings me a beautiful tactile synesthesia.

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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by oldenjon » Tue Sep 29, 2020 2:33 pm

I think that noise is the hyper-masculine apex of rock music for some people, especially for those that are more intellectual and/or subversive. Drugs can definitely play a part too. For me, noise was kind of an evolution from punk, to grindcore and thrash metal, to experimental acts like Black Dice. I think I appreciated the thrill and philosophy of noise. It was pure stimulation, no intention or organization behind it which made it feel challenging and transcendent. Still the trappings of punk and metal were ever present and I usually gravitated towards noise that had some semblance of coherency, something to identify with. I find life-time noise fans to be a particularly interesting bunch of people. I see noise as a stepping stone to unconventional sound design in my case, and I'm curious what keeps people anchored to it. Nowadays, I think of artists like Rashad Becker encapsulating all things I loved about noise and transforming them into something listenable.

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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by carbonhazard » Wed Sep 30, 2020 6:13 am

Is noise a musical genre though?

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Re: What is it about the musical genre "noise" that you find appealing?

Post by funeralcake » Wed Sep 30, 2020 7:16 am

^This is a philosophical question. It would be hard to find a definitive non-grey area answer to satisfy most people who aren't already locked into the idea of "what music is and is not", according to Western theory and traditions. I think context and "what kind of noise" we're talking about is important though. "Noise" itself is a very nebulous term where "noise music" is concerned. There's a thousand varieties, just as with any other style (i.e., pop, jazz, rock, electronic music, etc.)

I think it makes the most sense to lump noise that doesn't come from a rock/jazz-oriented background with all the rock & roll/jazz trappings (namely the instruments used) under the broader umbrella of "electronic music", taking the history of electronic music into consideration and making up your mind from there.

PS: I have no interest in debating the question of whether or not styles like EAI belong under the "electronic music" umbrella (not that anyone asked, but I know I'm riding on a slippery slope of "what abouts" with my assertion regarding "(electronic) noise music", and I want to make that known right away). I'm also not interested in talking about where rock and roll ends and "rock-oriented noise" begins. Even less where "rock-oriented noise" ends and precious egghead "feedback studies" to be lumped in with "electronic music" begins.

To give a real answer: I think noise, for many people, is a form of musical nihilism through which every concept of music can be swept aside in order to rebuild a concept of "what music is" that is applicable to the individual. I recognize a lot of musical elements within a lot of noise (rhythmic pules, harmonies, drones, logically-timed transitions, etc.), and I think "making noise" is ultimately a process of creating a musical language that makes sense for the individual in a lot of cases, though I can only speak for myself.

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