A Huge Anthology of Noise & Electronic Music (1920–2007) Featuring John Cage, Sun Ra, Captain Beefheart & More


Image by Emi­ly, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

If you’ve tak­en any intro­duc­to­ry course or even read any intro­duc­to­ry books on music, you’ll almost cer­tain­ly have heard it described as “orga­nized sound.” Fair enough, but then what do you call dis­or­ga­nized sound? Why, noise of course. And all this makes per­fect sense until your first encounter with the seem­ing­ly para­dox­i­cal but robust and ever-expand­ing tra­di­tion of noise music.

“Mod­ern ‘noise music’ finds its roots in ear­ly elec­tron­ic and indus­tri­al musics,” says Sta­t­ic Sig­nals, which used to review a lot of the stuff. “Where com­posers began expand­ing their vocab­u­lary of sound and instru­men­ta­tion is where the con­cept of ‘noise’ begins: what sounds can pro­duce music and which are pure­ly sta­t­ic or noise? For some, music’s out­er bound­ary is defined by west­ern Euro­pean clas­si­cal instru­ments designed hun­dreds of years ago and the sounds, pitch­es, rhythms they can (clas­si­cal­ly) pro­duce. For oth­ers, no sound, rhythm, tone, or pitch is off lim­its; music can be made by any­thing that can vibrate air.”

The devel­op­ment of elec­tron­ic musi­cal instru­ments — and indeed, any kind of sound-manip­u­lat­ing elec­tron­ic device — came as a great boon to this explo­ration of the bor­der­lands between orga­nized and dis­or­ga­nized sound. You can hear the effects of that sort of tech­nol­o­gy and much else besides in An Anthol­o­gy of Noise and Elec­tron­ic Music, a sev­en-part anthol­o­gy released by for­mi­da­ble Bel­gian exper­i­men­tal music label Sub Rosa, all of it avail­able on Spo­ti­fy (whose soft­ware you can down­load here if you need it). The first two vol­umes are embed­ded above; all sev­en vol­umes can be streamed via the links below. If you dig the col­lec­tion, we’d encour­age you to pur­chase your own copy and sup­port Sub Rosa’s project.

To the noise music-unini­ti­at­ed — and prob­a­bly even to a few of the ini­ti­at­ed — some of the tracks here will sound like music, and some cer­tain­ly won’t. But most of them fall fas­ci­nat­ing­ly in-between the two states, ide­al­ly expand­ing the lis­ten­er’s con­cep­tion of the son­ic ter­ri­to­ry music can explore. Some musi­cal exper­i­ments, just like sci­en­tif­ic exper­i­ments, point in more fruit­ful direc­tions than oth­ers, but each one sheds a lit­tle new light on the musi­cal enter­prise itself. And “the noise,” to take the words straight from Sub Rosa them­selves, “goes on…”

via Ubuweb

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Björk Presents Ground­break­ing Exper­i­men­tal Musi­cians on the BBC’s Mod­ern Min­i­mal­ists (1997)

The Avant-Garde Project: An Archive of Music by 200 Cut­ting-Edge Com­posers, Includ­ing Stravin­sky, Schoen­berg, Cage & More

The Music of Avant-Garde Com­pos­er John Cage Now Avail­able in a Free Online Archive

Hear the Exper­i­men­tal Music of the Dada Move­ment: Avant-Garde Sounds from a Cen­tu­ry Ago

Hear Albums from Bri­an Eno’s 1970s Label, Obscure Records

The His­to­ry of Elec­tron­ic Music in 476 Tracks (1937–2001)

Mr. Rogers Intro­duces Kids to Exper­i­men­tal Elec­tron­ic Music by Bruce Haack & Esther Nel­son (1968)

Hear Sev­en Hours of Women Mak­ing Elec­tron­ic Music (1938- 2014)

How the Moog Syn­the­siz­er Changed the Sound of Music

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (7)
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  • Rafael Toral says:

    I find it erro­neous to refer to “noise” as some­thing objec­tive. Noise is a sub­jec­tive qual­i­ty giv­en to sound, in oth­er words, a sound one does­n’t want to hear. Every­thing else is severe­ly out­dat­ed con­cept with a long over­due col­lec­tive con­scious­ness process of being thor­ough­ly ques­tioned. Too many of the artists fea­ture here would be offend­ed to be referred to as “noise”.
    Anoth­er thing is peo­ple’s ten­den­cy to call “noise” what they find strange or alien. That hap­pens due to lack of infor­ma­tion.

  • Marja Kilastemi says:

    Where is Vladimir Hirsch ?????? He is miss­ing there, which is the shame

  • Wilder says:

    Where is E.A.R. (Exper­i­men­tal Audio Research)???

  • David Lewis says:

    No Edgard Varese? No Pierre Hen­ry? No Stock­hausen? No Zap­pa?
    Stuck with the conun­drum of the Bird Cage con­tin­u­um.

  • Shane Lange says:

    Very dis­ap­point­ed to see that Sub­Rosa and Open­cul­ture are endors­ing a stream­ing plat­form that con­tin­ues to bla­tant­ly exploit the artists it osten­si­bly “sup­ports” through micro roy­al­ties. And no, the fact that vir­tu­al­ly every­one uses said plat­form still does­n’t make it okay. You both should know bet­ter.

  • lioneldoolan says:

    Where’s my mom.

  • jayrope says:

    I com­plete­ly scond this.

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