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Boundaries Between Music and Noise

Autor:   •  December 5, 2018  •  Research Paper  •  2,148 Words (9 Pages)  •  39 Views

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Boundaries between music and noise

Sound can be regular and irregular. While sound with regular frequencies is often defined as music, sound with irregular frequencies is named as noise. However, it is often hard for researchers to give a specific definition for music and noise. There is disagreement on some aspects of music and noise within the public. Therefore, this essay would discuss how noise and music can be distinguished from each other based on the form, context, social agreement and culture and how music and noise share some similarities and can sometimes converge apart from these distinctions.

Definition of music

Music is sound with a discrete structure. Sounds with a fundamental frequency and overtones can be considered as music. Music is often played by instruments such as the violin, accordions and so on. Music often makes sound which people feel comfortable. There are many researchers who try to define music. Levinson (1990) thinks that music is made up of man-made sounds which are created to enrich the listeners’ experience or engagement. For instance, in films or concerts, music has to be there to make the audience feel engaged. Levinson also suggests that music is large related with the intention of its composers. Nevertheless, he does not make it clear that what is ‘man-made’. His definition also brings about many doubts. Some people think that sounds in the nature, though they are not man-made, can be considered as music sometimes. Hence, researchers such as Nattiez (1990) claim that, there is not an unambiguous and intercultural universal concept that defines music at all.

Definition of noise

It is often believed that noise is sound with a continuous structure. While noise can be in continuous high value, it can also be in continuous low value so that there is not an equal intensity for it. Noise is much more random and unorganized. Schafer (1977) defines noise as sound which people learn to ignore in their daily life. According to him, noise is the combination of sounds which are not wanted. These sounds are loud and disturb the signaling system sometimes. He also suggests that noise pollution occurs when people do not listen carefully. However, a more stereotyped definition of noise suggests that ‘Noise is negative: it is unwanted, other, not something ordered’ (Hegarty, 2007). Hegartly also suggests that noise can exist dependently and it appears ‘only in relation to what it is not’. With its existence, it helps to define what music is. In addition, he acknowledges that noise cannot be excluded from the world of language or music.

Different forms

Music and noise are considered to be equipped with various forms. Music is believed to be comfortable and accepted or even pursued by the public. However, people do not like noise most of the times and they consider it as a kind of pollution. Hence noise pollution has become a significant environmental problem today. Noise is often made up of sounds that are not pitched. Some unpitched percussion instruments and electric guitars such as drums can create unpitched sounds (Toth, 2009). Different from the sounds made by the violins, these sounds are sometimes loud, unmusical and cannot be controlled. These sounds might help maintain a rhythm or to provide accents, but they are most of the times not harmonious. Hence, these sounds are hard to be appreciated by the audience. Some researchers also think that the boundary between music and noise can be made from mathematics perspectives. The boundary of the two can also be made based on its various sound waves. Typically, music consists of weaves which are separable. The rations form simple fractions. The main frequency of music can be identified by its listeners. However, the weaves of noise is not separable (Brassier, 2009). In other words, the weaves are continuous and that every frequency can appear in one place or another. There is not a discernible dominant frequency. Noise is also different from music because it is thought to be harmful. For instance, while music means to amuse people and comfort them mentally, noise causes not only physical damages, but also mental damages. For instance, noise can bring tinnitus, ruptured eardrums and cause temporary deafness. It can also disturb the sleep quality of listeners. Noise can also make people stressful enough and easier to lose temper. Generally speaking, noise is loud, unpitched, uncontrolled sounds without frequencies.

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