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Sounds of the system: the emancipation of noise in the music of Carsten Nicolai

  • Adam Collis (a1)


In contrast to general perceptions of noise as undesirable audio phenomena, consideration of the objective acoustic properties of ‘noise’ and the functional aspects of noise in Information Theory are used to show how, rather than an impediment to communication, noise can aid in increasing communication. A review of noise in music of the twentieth century and beyond shows how this has become increasingly understood by composers, and that the greater use of noise as a sound source has arisen out of developments in audio technology. This article argues that the music of Carsten Nicolai (alva noto) represents a consolidation of this process. The Autorec CD and the track Impulse are cited as examples of how noise is used as part of a new practice in electronic music. By looking at the structural features of the cited musical examples, it is seen how this new practice follows neither the electroacoustic nor the commercial dance music mainstreams but manages to synthesise references to both traditions.



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