Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ambiance, Noise, and Music

For me, the most bizarre thing about my (orange) cd was not one song or the other--it was how I noticed that I didn't like most of the songs until I stopped paying attention to them. In some instances, it was the opposite. I needed to really listen, at least for a bit, to understand the music and start liking it. Right now, I'm listening to The Telephone Call by Kraftwork. I can't stand this song if I actually sit and pay attention to it. As soon as I shift my focus to something else, it falls into the background and becomes tolerable.
Ambient music, right? It's an accent for the environment, not meant to be a focal point. Even without meaning to, it just slips to the back of the mind and it's easy to forget you're even listening to it. The repeated melodies go from annoying to artistic, since they no longer demand attention. But it still leaves an impression, and somehow even when two songs have finished playing before you realize there's been a change in music (which happens to me a lot), you can still remember bits and pieces of the music you weren't consciously aware of. It still has an effect on you--an energetic song starts making you feel anxious, a more mellow tune calms you down--even when you have no idea, consciously, what you're listening to.
The subconscious takes in noise and responds to it. Slow, soothing sounds make the mind relax. Faster or louder songs, or a a sound you aren't familiar with, start adrenaline going the slightest bit--fight or flight reaction: since you aren't paying attention to the music consciously, your subconscious takes it in as noise and reacts to the situation that might cause such a noise. If we don't apply thought, philosophy, or emotion to what we are hearing, music becomes only noise. The noise may have rhythm, or melody, but it is still noise. Since all music is noise, Cage and other artists can rightfully say that any noise is music.
I'm not sure if this is the line of thought they follow, but this is what occured to me.

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