The avant-garde composer Edgard Varèse once famously said ‘to stubbornly conditioned ears, anything new in music has always been called noise.’ Throughout the years, noise in music has been regarded as the unwanted, the ugly, the aggressive. Yet, noise seems to be ever-present in any sound. What if we consider noise to be more than parasitic? How could noise be used in music analysis? Can noise be seen as an aesthetic device? Can we hear music in the heart of noise?
As I started my PhD study at the musicology department of the University of Leuven in October 2017, I set out to answer these questions. In this project I aim to study the constructive dimension of noise in contemporary musical practices. My focus is on the use of Non-Pitched percussion - as the historically first noise generator in art music - in its transition from beat and rhythm to sound and noise. To this end, I will analyse the works of four composers/performers (Edgard Varèse, Iannis Xenakis, Michael Maierhof and Chris Corsano), applying not only methods of score analysis, but also auditive analysis and analysis of graphical representations of the recordings.
Besides my work as a PhD researcher, I compose and record my own music. By using daily household objects as percussion instruments on the one hand, and digitally manipulating more common musical timbres on the other, I seek to integrate noise within the warm sounds of guitar and synthesizer. Two albums, The Music of Turning and Still and Fixation are available on digital streaming platforms including Spotify, Google Play, Apple Music and Tidal.