Tuesday, June 28, 2005

silent reflections

I’ve been reading Haunted Weather: Music, Silence and Memory by David Toop these last couple of days (thanks for the tip off Kris!). It’s really got me thinking about silence not as the absence as noise, but as something altogether different. It’s not an absence at all, since true silence is impossible, at least within our atmosphere. In seeking to achieve silence we only succeed in revealing more and more levels of noise, uncovering the sounds which underlie our everyday. The hum of a refrigerator, the far off bark of a dog, those sounds which go unperceived, or a least remain unnoticed. Any soundscape can therefore be seen as a complexly layered palimpsest. Peel away one of these layers and it reveals another layer of sound, our perception like a pyramid, focusing only on the point of forgrounded sounds, whilst less and less attention is paid the closer to the base (bass) of that pyramid we go.

Social silence, noisy silence, deafening silence. Whilst music fills the air (and the ear) with noise, in doing so it often reduces the listener to silence. Does music cover silence or does it uncover silence?

The opposite of noise isn’t silence, the opposite of noise is listening.

- Gerard