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Noise and Noises 

"Some day every artist
has to choose between
Malevich and Duchamp."
(Ad Reinhardt, 1967)

Für das Wort Rauschen gibt es im Englischen keine eindeutige Entsprechung. Oft wird es mit Noise übersetzt, ein Wort, das nicht zwischen Rauschen und Geräusch unterscheidet. Für mich sind Rauschen und Geräusch aber fast das Gegenteil.

So, wie ich Russolo lese und Cage wahrnehme, geht es für sie, bei noises oder rumori, um die Geräusche als individuelle akustische Ereignisse, als das Material, die Bausteine für die Komposition, als das Äquivalent und als Ergänzung der Töne und Instrumentalklänge. In jeder dieser Hinsichten ist Rauschen das Gegenteil. Rauschen ist kein Indiviuum in der Welt des Klingenden, sondern seine Aufhebung, und es ist kein Äquivalent und keine Ergänzung der Töne, sondern es ENTHÄLT sowohl die Töne als auch die Geräusche, es ist die Totalität aller Klänge und Geräusche, deren Summe. Und es ist Rauschen nicht das Material aus der eine Komposition gebaut wird, sondern es IST die Komposition, seine generelle Haltung, seine Form.

(Als Cage in 'Lecture On Nothing' über Debussy, und vom Wegnehmen als Kompositionsprinzip sprach, war er der Idee des Rauschens tatsächlich nahe ["Somebody asked Debussy how he wrote music. He said: I take all the tones there are, leave out the ones I don't want, and use all the others."] Ich weiß nicht, ob Cage jemals darauf zurückgekommen ist. Jedenfalls hatte er was gegen (klangliche) Totalitäten, gegen Xenakis, und gegen Situationen in denen die Individualität der Einzelklänge in einer Masse oder Summe aufgehoben wäre.)

      Noise and noises are not the same. In fact, the noise and the noises can, in my opinion, be almost opposites. What the singular form refers to is the totality of white noise. What the plural refers to is the many individual objects - or event-related - noises of everyday life. Obviously this distinction is very important to my own work and the use of "Rauschen" (white noise) within it, but what I want to argue here is that this distinction has already achieved a historical dimension - although it is one which seems not to be widely recognized.

      As is so often the case, the visual arts discourse on the matter is decades ahead of the music discussion. The initial Ad Reinhardt quotation is now 45 years of age. To arrive in medias res, I want directly to equate Duchamp's ready-mades (e.g. the bottle rack) with the individual noises of everyday life, and to connect Malevich's most abstract paintings (like the black or the white square) to the idea of totality and the sum of all sounds - which, by definition, is white noise.

      As I read Russolo and perceive Cage, their
      noises or rumori are about sounds as individual acoustic events, as the material, the building blocks, the modules (or found objects) that might constitute a composition. Thus, noises also represent the equivalent and complement of tones or instrumental sounds. In each of these respects, white noise (in German "Rauschen") is the opposite. White noise/Rauschen is not an individual in the sonic world, but its suspension. It is not an equivalent nor a complement of tones, but rather it contains both the tones and the noises. It is the totality of all sounds and noises, their sum.

      When John Cage, in "Lecture on Nothing", talked about Debussy, and about removal as a principle of composition, he appeared - at least for that moment - to be close to the idea of Rauschen: "Somebody asked Debussy how he wrote music. He said: I take all the tones there are, leave out the ones I don't want, and use all the others."

      I don't know if Cage ever returned to that. After all, Cage had something against (acoustic) totalities, against Xenakis, against Free Jazz and against situations in which the individuality of discrete sounds would be suspended in a mass or sum. And here we are now, exactly at this point of distinction - and in addition, in our hands we hold the key for opening up and acquiring its historical dimension.

      from: Ablinger, Peter: "Black Square and Bottle Rack: noise and noises", in: Aaron Cassidy, Aaron Einbond (Editors): "Noise in and as Music", University of Huddersfield Press, 2013

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this page was created by Aljoscha Hofmann. last edited 30.11.2013 CET