October 11, 2007


In response to the reading in Background Noise, LaBelle really demonstrates the degree to which sound art is becoming a definite and more defined art form. The reading gives a pretty comprehensive overview and a general history of what sound art exhibits. The relationship between sound art and the emergent audio technologies appears to be increasingly dynamic, as well as, the way in which sound art functions spatially through reproduction and disseminated of media, and in relation to the intensities of communication and its context. I find it interesting to see how this style of art continues to find new contexts and the way in which it can be manipulated as it continues to grow.

Background Noise

While reading this book, I kept thinking of the term background noise, and how usually, for me at least, is a hindrance, especially when recording. I thought those were interesting words to use for the description of sound art.
random article on background noise:

Anyways, I like that there is an attempt to create literature on this art, but I agree with the others, sometimes it's hard to read about sound art and not to experience it. I hate that I can't ever hear these pieces in their natural environment, I can only read about them and listen to them on CDs. I suppose thats the same with most art, the environment changes everything. I like that debate between sound art and music also, where that line is drawn--and again, how is 'sound art' suppose to be experienced?

I liked reading about John Cage because I've only learned about him in a music class setting and when you approach him from a "sound art" perspective, it can change. The idea that everything is music changes the way I think of sound art.

Again, the whole technology is so freakin' intriguing to me, and how it has shaped and influenced the making and listening of sounds as a whole. The use of technology, and whether the listener is aware of it and the intent of the artist all plays a huge part of my own listening experiences. It ties into Cage's idea of audience participation, and the difference between passive and active engagement.

Altogether I'm enjoy reading the book, despite the heaviness of it. I like that I'm beginning to make connections to other things I've read on the subject.

Background Noise

Big problem I had with this book is Labelle's style of writing. I felt like I was back in my intro to philosophy class being forced to dissect every sentence to obtain the meaning from it. He then had a habit of adding "In other words" at the end of this long rants that he would go on. I guess to help the poor "lamen." If you feel like you need to add a dumbed down version of what you just said for the sake of your audience, then you should probably rethink exactly who you are writing this book for. I seemed verbose for the sake of being verbose.

I did find the "People or Plants" section of 4'33" very interesting. By actually engaging the audience in the piece, making them a part of it rather than a passive element, I think that Cage does a wonderful job of breaking the barrier between audience member and participant.

Background Noise

I was always really interested in the idea that John Cage used to attach objects to the internal organs of his piano. I have read about it many times, but have never actually heard it.

I was always drawn to that idea, because I felt that it reflected (or rather, I reflected it) what I am doing with the music/sound that I make. I have always been interested in many types of music/sound, and strive to incorporate all of these influences in what I do. I like to combine organic/acoustic music with inorganic/electronic music. I feel that beyond the influence other music has on what I create - my biggest influence is the city I grew up in. St. Paul. This city is filled with both trees and tall buildings (not that tall).

So, this post was originally going to be about John Cage, but turned into some bogus artist statement for a seemingly over-prentencious work of sound. Sorry. Maybe I justed liked Cage's idea because I think painos are cool?

Another idea that I was drawn to in the book was Cage's constant reflection. He reflected on what sound was, by making sound. It's like looking at a mirror, by looking at a reflection of it in a mirror.

October 9, 2007

LaBelle's first section

The actual act of listening to sound is way more rewarding than the act of hearing about sound. After all, sound’s ultimate purpose is to listen to sound, not to talk about what sounds sound like, right? While reading about all of the revolutionary things Cage, Musique concrete and Group Ongaku are doing with sound, I can only merely envision what the performances and pieces are like. But I want more! I want to be a part of the creation! After all, the art these artists are creating is all about the time at that moment and the feelings associated with that time. It is all about the space, the form, and the specific people involved. Cage says himself that “music takes on social weight beyond symbolic systems and toward immediacy and the profound presence of being there.? What good does it do to hear about it now long after the experience?

I am not directing blame onto LaBelle or any of the quotes contributed in the reading. It is actually quite interesting learning about the evolution of this genre of art, and the strong feelings present about how life equals art. Although, I do agree with Kelsey in that the reading poses great difficulty with repetition and contradiction as its ingredients. But, it all makes sense to me; the reading of the writing on sounds reflects how it naturally is to discuss sounds—impossible.

Background Noise Reflection

I appreciate starting with Cage & how his work delivered pedestrian sounds into the spotlight . . . as illustrated by his statement that "everything we do is music." Having been born after these ideas came into the world through Cage's work, it's hard for me to imagine what the world was like before that. I find myself often romanced by the idea that everything we do is music - this typing I'm doing right now? It's a beautiful sound. I kept thinking as I read this book how Cage is somewhat akin to Marx or Freud in the way that he grandfathers a movement which spawns others to follow suit and even more to de- or re- construct the ideas that began with Cage.

I think Tim's insight into thinking about the Buddhist ideas of thus-ness are spot on. While I was reading about Cage I kept wondering if he studied Zen as his work embodies the very notion of exploring both what is present and what is not. It's a strange concept to try to explain because it's something that doesn't make any kind of linear or logical sense. As it turns out, Cage did study Zen to a certain degree although it's my understanding that he never became a practitioner of it.

I'm rather fascinated with the research of musique concrete with the advent of tape recorders replacing phonograph records & how a collective curiosity managed to explore all the new ways sound could be manipulated. Again, I try to imagine what the world was like before you could play something backwards or have reverb put on an existing sound. It's so easy to sculpt sound in this way today I keep thinking, "what was this like when it was totally new?" If anyone has the chance to listen to the radio lab piece on the musicality of language, there's a story about a composition that caused rioting upon it's debut that's both entertaining & enlightening. How humans sonic-ly evolve to new sounds is fascinating to me. When does a reverb transform from being a really weird and maybe uncomfortable sound into an attractive sound?
It reminds me that in this digital age we're in a new era of sonic evolution ourselves.

Now that I'm farther into the book, it's hard to comment specifically on the first assignment because the first chapter really sets the stage for what's to come. I'm also still not a huge fan of the writing style although I'm decidedly less crabby about it now that I've moved farther into the book.

I'm anxious to hear what others thoughts are on the book & the historical perspective given.

October 7, 2007

Reading Reflection

Before I post an entry containing any feedback related to the topics Diane suggested we write about, I wanted to find out what reaction others are having to the reading. I am having a really hard time with the author's writing style. His sentences are frequently longer than they need to be and seem to over-complicate ideas that, in my opinion, could be stated more simply. This causes me to wonder if his ideas are not completely formulated in his own mind as he seems to get caught up in the rush of contradictions (among other things) present in the world of sound, music, and sound art. Also, there are many references to specific works, styles, and movements that I have no prior knowledge of which frustrates me further. I wish this book came with an accompanying cd. Without one, my reading is disrupted as I need to frequently look things up online or try to find recordings of pieces referenced.
Is anyone else struggling with this text?

September 28, 2007

Introduction and Part 1: 4'33"; Sound Points of Origins

Our readings are from Brandon Labelle's Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art

We will discuss the following next week:

Pages ix - xvi Introduction: Auditory Relations

Pages xvii - xviii Fade In

Pages 1 - 46 Part 1: 4'33"; Sound Points of Origins