On Noise In Electronic Music

random-noiseNew blog Harmonia Prohibitorum has published an interesting discussion of analog vs digital and the role of noise in electronic music:

My main problem with digital music applications is the silence that is there to start with.

If you record nothing at all onto analogue tape and play it back there’s still something there. I always needed some noise to begin the working process with, a tone or some hiss seeping through the faders of a beat up old Alan and Heath and then take it from there.

However now digital music applications are becoming more of a tool for creating noise, sometimes at the most micro of levels. What we’re hearing now in music is that the sounds have become more and more complex. You can tell by listening to underground electronic music these days which is incorporating a higher bandwidth of hi frequencies and sub bass as well as contemporary notated music which had been leaning further to incorporating prepared instruments, electronic sounds and extended techniques. Both genres overall just incorporating a wider spectrum of noise, harmonics, overtones, beating tones etc.

What is happening is people are yearning for more noise and it’s becoming more and more acceptable to hear it, so we are actually improving our ears by being able to hear sound in a different way.

There are all sorts of reasons that analog, at its best, sounds so good, ranging from the sense of reality that a little background noise establishes, to nostalgia, to the ear-pleasing nature of analog distortion.

When you listen to a digital recording with headphones, something that’s extremely common today, you’re hearing a new type of silence in the music.

Do you think that pristine digital recordings are making musicians yearn for new types of noise and new types of sounds?

Image: cameralucida

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