The ART of noise
It was a few years ago, when people sitting in front of a cage were talking to each other. One said hoo, hoo and he pointed at some hairy guy who was banging with his mammoth bone on some other bones and after that on a stone. The other caveman shrugged and pointed at his head, then said hoo? This meant I don't know, maybe he has gone mad, but of course at that time it was far harder to talk to each other as hoo can be interpreted in many ways. That shrug said enough though for the initial dude (they didn’t have names yet, so the story about them is harder to tell too) and he understood and replied with a smile that would scare us these days but gave them a feeling of us and them, they agreed, the guy banging those things had gone mad. They rolled over with laughter and started fleeing each other.
The hairy guy didn’t let go though. He took some more items to bang on and slowly, but surely, he started to understand a few concepts. The first one was rhytm. He banged on one item time and again and at some point he used the same interval. He scratched his head a few times, rolled over a few times and opened his mouth to breathe harder, like that would help. His eyes became big and he looked like he saw “The Great Cave Bear”, so the other two, watching him, couldn’t take it anymore. They smiled at his face, looked at each other and pushed him a few times. Of course this wasn’t a good idea, because he was still holding that bone and he swung at one, but missed. This calmed the other two down, they went to sit at some distance and were becoming more curious as to what that hairy dude was really doing there. After some practice mr. hairy, let’s call him Harry, seemed to be getting the hang of rhytm. He banged on a stone for a couple of times, then on a bone for the same number of times and evenly fast, then back to the stone etcetera. The birth of the first drums of earth.
But this guy wasn’t stupid. Well, ok, if he lived now we would call him stupid. But Harry had a musical ear. He banged on the stone and heard a certain sound, which was far different than when he hit another bone. So he gathered as many items that could produce sound to make different pitches of sounds. By this time the whole clan was looking at what this guy was doing. Many frowns and laughs were seen, but they looked more nervous than anything else. Did the evil spirit from the skies capture his brains, some dared to hoo, but the leader hoo’ed that they should shut up and see. Harry hammered until he could place them all in the correct order and before they knew it, he was hammering the scale that he found, from low to high. Do re mi fa sol la si do, he said, figaro figaro. Oh wait, that’s another story. But he did find the first concept of rhytm and melody at some point. Harry taught some dumbos to hit a stone or another item four times in a row in the same interval, so they could do the rhytm section and he could add some melody. Before one knew it the first raindance appeared. For thousands of years this was the number one hit in the top hundred of all times, but, of course, this was because only one guy, Harry, ever thought of such a concept, until it was so widespread that every hairy clown was dancing like a fool to let the gods stop the rain or whatever strange wish they wanted of their pool of invented gods.
Ah, let’s get on with it. Music is an art. And it is the ART of noise. Many things can produce noise, but it is obvious that usually the instruments made to construct music are best suited to release artful noise. The reason for this is that they have an inbuilt musical scale to produce notes that are fair to the ear. The more instruments there are, the better music you should be able to make. It is all about possibilities. So it seems to me that with technology advancing music should get better by the year. Everyone with a clear mind can see that this is not the case. The hitparades have been degrading since the eighties. Rock and roll was the top of the pops, then decline set in and now we are stuck with Lady GaGa and Justin Bieber. Unless anyone would argue that Justin Bieber is better than Led Zeppelin or Queen, in which case I would call that person an idiot, of course. So, what went wrong with the art of noise?
Mankind has many flaws, amongst them is living in a box. If you only take what is being offered to you, life degrades fast. A little bit of curiosity never hurt anyone, (except if you’re a cat but those have nine lives) if we didn’t have that we would still live in caves, right? Young people, who are the most persistent listeners of music, should be the people who change the world and for that they have gotten a clear mind, which, as older folks know, get filled with all kinds of things as we grow older, which we call our convictions, thoughts and feelings. Curious minds will search the musical sky for beautiful songs they like the best. This takes some effort, of course, and if the young people are already lazy in the head, then what is the world coming to?
Many take the hitparade for granted and pick the best songs out of that to make it the best music they heard. That’s what makes somebody say “I love Justin Timberlake” even though there have been tons of bands who did what he does a hundred times better. The hitparade of today is a travesty of music, Freud would call it regression. “We know we can make better music, but we won’t do it”, that seems to be the concept. If a topband, that practised for years to become masters of their instruments and can write great lyrics, would stand up right now they would have to make a giant effort to become popular, from the small bars to the townhall appearance, to the city stage and then onto the soccer stadium like appearances. This, when some computer nerd can take some samples and make an effortless hit in five minutes that will get played on the radio and tv every hour, as long as you get some half dressed women in the background and some guys that act like they are cavemen in the clip you make.
So why are we regressing into worse music than we can make? Why is the music industry steering our young people to love inferior noise? A tough question, I think music is one of the pillars of society that can enlighten the listeners or make them hollowminded, dependant on which style of music and what sort of lyrics are being generated in the media. When I see that “Bohemian Rhapsody” is getting 72.000.000 hits on Youtube and “Pokerface” more than 160.000.000 hits then it is clear that young people, who listen to music the most, are in love with lesser gods, as one cannot say “I don’t know this song of Queen”… To me it seems that our society has degraded, and music simply follows that regression. After the war music went on a higher level each decade, topping at the middle of the seventies and slowly fading in the middle of the eighties. After that disco, house, rap, hiphop, etc, topped the pops, hardly artful noise if you ask me, though some might indeed argue that “Bad Romance” (Rah, rah, ah, ah, ah Roma, roma, maGaga, ooh, la, la…. gimme a break) is as good in lyrics and style as “Stairway to heaven” which is a top notch song with superb lyrics.
Society has been upgraded for decades after WW2, but it topped at the start of the eighties, when wealth was being divided in a somewhat fair way. Everyone in the first world had basically enough to spend. The world was being built up again, there were songs of hope, protestsongs, inner beauty, in short songs that mattered. After the eighties the “Old Boys Network” took over the world and wages for the top skyrocketed, which is still going on today. Of course they also took over the media, which is the producer of the “art” of noise. When you don’t want people to think, how can you let protestsongs get popular? Or songs that really matter in the great scheme of things? Don’t let the young hear it, they might run through our barricades! So… Is it the chicken or the egg? Music shows you what is going on in the world. These times must be brainless, as Pink Floyd said, we have become comfortably numb, although the comfort is getting ripped from under our bums as we speak.
So, what are you waiting for, you young guns? Take back music and make it “The ART of noise” again! Don’t let the media order you what colors you like. Be the media yourself. No barricade ever stopped any young people from crawling over them and taking over. Take the lyrics of “Five to one” by the Doors and make em real. I’m too old for that kinda shit.