The movement for the advancement of Real Noise is recruiting…
They are noises which are not produced electronically/synthesised, nor recorded then reproduced through speakers.
They are noises which do not come from an instrument that has been master crafted to produce exact, measured and pure sounds, nor from a Blue Peter style junk band hitting pipes with table tennis paddles and beating empty oil barrels with sticks.
Some examples of Real Noises are: the roar of the swollen river; the boom of a football being kicked against a wall in a concrete court yard; and the bleep of the Green Man.
Standing beside an elderly tractor as its grating, bass heavy, diesel engine ticks over is a rich and impure sonic experience – from the rattle of it’s loose exhaust to the almost physical impact of jarring booms as the motor shudders within it’s loose housing.
This sound experience cannot be fully captured by an expert field recordist or replicated by a high fidelity sound system, nor can it be played by a virtuoso bassoonist. Even with stereo or ‘surround sound’ the nuances of three dimensional Real Noise are lost. When standing near the tractor the jangle of the keys in the ignition comes from one point, the piston thump from another, and the sound produced by the exhaust pipe varies along it’s length. As you stand beside the tractor you are assaulted by sound which is being emitted in all directions from components made of a variety of materials with different surfaces and timbres, all linked to each other mechanically; and as you move in relation to the Real Noise source the balance of the sound changes.
Generally, Real Noises are far more complicated and irregular than those created by musical instruments and their intricacies cannot be replicated by a loudspeaker. Even something as simple as listening to a high quality recording of someone drying their hair is far inferior to the auditory sensation of being in a room where someone is using a hair dryer. Recordings of Real Noise are comparable to potato prints of snow flakes or concrete casts of spider webs.
It is true that if you want to listen to tractors you can visit farms. Rather than visiting concert halls, night clubs or jazz bars, if you find auditory divinity within the high pitch ringing of a slowly stirred cup of tea you can just go home and put the kettle on. Real Noise does exist – the sounds are out there and anyone can listen to them.
This is fine, but what society lacks is places where people can commune and appreciate Real Noise together: safe locations where sound can be celebrated in all it’s complicated three dimensional intricacy.
The creation of these spaces is the number one priority for the Campaign For Real Noise.
At first this seems like a gargantuan task, at odds with the wants and needs of the masses, but an analysis of the current state of sound in society reveals promising signs, which indicate the Real Noise revolution is primed. All we need to do is facilitate the emergence of the new era.
The end has begun for our 303/606 romance, audiophiles will soon tire of their Magnepan MG20s and before long bassoonists will lay their dark, reedy instruments to one side.
WARNING: REAL NOISE APPROACHING
In 1966 Steve Reich looped a sample of a black youth saying ‘come out to show them’ non-stop for 13 minutes with just a weird phase pattern to keep it interesting. Thirty years after these initial sound experiments all across Europe every weekend there were warehouses full of people spazzing out for hours on end to music directly influenced by Steve Reich’s brand of minimalism.
Just as models walking down catwalks in Milan with peacocks gaffer taped to their faces somehow translate into a stylish new pair of sunglasses available in high street stores – so too do the weird unreasonable antics of the sound art world eventually work their way into popular culture. Because of this, by examining contemporary sound art it is possible to gain an indication of how the function of sound is changing within society – and an idea of what popular music might be like in a couple of decades time.
In the summer of 2008 David Byrne dissolved the boundary between sound source and venue when he created Playing The Building. He attached striking and vibrating mechanisms to the pipes, pillars and beams of New York’s Battery Maritime Museum transforming it into a giant musical instrument. Members of the publicwere exposed to haunting wails, booms and clanks from all around them asthey wondered around and had the option of playing the building themselves sitting at the keys of a customised pump organ.
Later that year the Japanese sound artist Ujino Muneteru featured mechanical sound sculptures called Rotators in a high profile exhibition at Toko’s Studio Depp. The Rotators are made up of three, usually heavily modified, domestic electrical appliances all conducted by a Rotator Head (A DJ turntable customised to rhythmically operate three electric switches). As the record turns the different electrical devices spurt on and off – producing mechanical noises orchestrated to resembles electronic dance music.
These two examples illustrate a general trend in contemporary sound art, including works by Nicolas Anatol Baginsky and Bjoern Schuelke, where practitioners are eschewing traditional instruments, loudspeakers and amplifiers in favour Real Noise.
This trend within the art world is just the tip of the iceberg. There is growing disillusionment with the the current state of popular sound. A sentiment of discontentment is spreading, induced by the flat half-experiences produced by digital sound,subwoofers and supertweeters. People have started to remember that there is something more to listening; something which can’t be found in an ipod, or a fashionable night club.
For the advancement of Real Noise and the facilitation of the Real Noise revolution premises must be seized, be they derelict buildings, warehouses or fields. Real Noise sound sources must be located and brought to the new venues where they can be combined and orchestrated into mechanical Real Noise sound systems. These will be able to match the power andvolume of modern digital sound systems made up of signal processors, amplifiers and loud speakers, but they will far surpass them in their complexity, depth, integrity and immediacy. The Real Noise revolution will begin in earnest as soon as Real Noise sources are brought together in one place with people hungry to experience complete sound.
We are on the cusp of a new era in listening. The man on the street is ready to plunge into Real Noise – he just needs somewhere to begin his journey.