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Thread: Noise vs. Sound vs. Music

  1. #1

    Noise vs. Sound vs. Music

    Hello dear friends,

    Here I sit, listening to the ruckus of construction workers outside the door, and I find myself wondering--what is the difference between the three?

    Or, to put it another way, "why is it that weeds only grow where we don't want them to?"

    I think that anything can be a "weed" or "flower," "construction ruckus" or "music," or it can all just be as-it-is-ness, depending on the person seeing or hearing the phenomena.

    Maybe for you, Modest Mussorgski is an unholy racket.
    Maybe for me, Eminem is a plague to my ears (come to think of it...)

    But both are sound, noise, music--all at once, and not at all. Just phenomena.

    This is what I think. What do you think?

    Much metta,

    Perry

  2. #2

    Re: Noise vs. Sound vs. Music

    I agree, I think it's all subjective. For example, as a cook, I work in a busy kitchen, where the sounds of work, knives on cutting boards, food sizzling and spitting on the grill, running water, boiling kettles, loud exhaust fans, and us speaking loud to be heard above it all would drive a lot of people nuts. To me, it sounds quite normal, and on the good days, it sounds nice. It's the sound that I make in feeding my family. It's my profession. It's just normal to me. However, the sounds of a construction site or hammers on a roof are just noise to me.
    Similarly, as something of a musician, I find "Hip-Hop" absolutely abominable... a mash of noise. But to others it's the sweetest of music, it touches the soul, whereas the old Jazz I listen to drives some of my friends crazy. Where I can be driven to goosebumps by Thelonious Monk or Sonny Rollins, others find them tedious and annoying. And being a huge Deadhead, I can tell you that a lot of people flat-out despise the Grateful Dead.
    Perception is subjective.
    That, or, there's just no accounting for taste. LOL

  3. #3

    Re: Noise vs. Sound vs. Music

    Suzuki Roshi has this famous short video talk (one of the only films of him,by the way) on "sound and noise".

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHNyCAJXUXE[/video]]

    I have posted it from time to time, as it is part of his series of talks on the Sandokai ("The Identity of Relative/DIfference and Absolute/Sameness") which we also covered in our book club awhile back ("Branching Streams Flow in the Dark") ...

    viewforum.php?f=2&st=0&sk=t&sd=d&start=50

    If I may sound a bit Zenny for a moment (I hope it does not grate on your ears) ...


    Can one hear the Silent Sound found ever between and shining through and speaking the sound/noise? It is there, even when not heard. It is the very sound and noise themselves. It is your Sound, whether the mouth is open or closed. It is music when heard as music, jack hammers when heard as jack hammers. Baby's crying, baby's laughter.

    Although that is so, simultaneously true ... sweet lullabies are sweet, and so we love them. Jack hammers pound the ears, and so we despise them.

    Gassho, Jundo

  4. #4
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Noise vs. Sound vs. Music

    To the construction worker the sound of a jackhammer may be "music" in the sense that it means work and getting paid
    To the person trying to sleep the sound of the jackhammer may be noise (unless he's a construction worker somehow soothed by the sound of work)
    To the person doing zazen the sound of the jackhammer is just that

  5. #5

    Re: Noise vs. Sound vs. Music

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    To the construction worker the sound of a jackhammer may be "music" in the sense that it means work and getting paid
    To the person trying to sleep the sound of the jackhammer may be noise (unless he's a construction worker somehow soothed by the sound of work)
    To the person doing zazen the sound of the jackhammer is just that

    Ahhhh. This resonates through the heavens in the ten directions like the Buddha's jackhammer!

    Sometimes Buddha/person in Zazen (not two, by the way) works construction and hears the music.

    Sometimes Buddha/person in Zazen (not two, by the way) can't sleep because of all that ugly racket!

    Always ... Buddha-person in Zazen-jackhammer is just that.

  6. #6
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Noise vs. Sound vs. Music

    Ahhh, but thinking this over a little more, don't we drop the jackhammer label? (which is a lot less painful than dropping the actual jackhammer :shock: ). So instead of just that (jackhammer) we end up with just this (emptiness).

  7. #7
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: Noise vs. Sound vs. Music

    And what can be said of the gangsta rap that blares into my house from the street, rattling the very windows with its jacked-up bass and incredibly foul words?

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Noise vs. Sound vs. Music

    I cannot think of anything more poignant than the diminishing sounds of the two bells struck to signal the end of sitting.

    Some days it is met with the happy release from a muscle spasm but, most times with a reticence to surrender the silence :cry:

    gassho,

  9. #9

    Re: Noise vs. Sound vs. Music

    Some revealing quotes from the composer John Cage:

    Which is more musical: a truck passing by a factory or a truck passing by a music school?

    If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical, it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience.

    There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.

    The act of listening is in fact an act of composing.

    They say, “you mean it's just sounds?” thinking that for something to just be a sound is to be useless, whereas I love sounds just as they are, and I have no need for them to be anything more than what they are.


    --from the composer of 4'33", his so-called "silent piece" which lasts 4 minutes and 33 seconds. But, as Cage loved to point out, there really is no such thing as literal silence-- there is always something interesting to hear, if we just let sounds be sounds. His book of lectures and essays, Silence, is, I think, a life-changing read.

    _()_
    josh

  10. #10

    Re: Noise vs. Sound vs. Music

    ...Though I must confess, I prefer Mussorgsky to Eminem any day!

    _()_
    josh

  11. #11

    Re: Noise vs. Sound vs. Music

    paraphrase dogen.A flower falls even though we love it and a weed grows even though we hate it...........????i think something like that crossed his lips.I use to mediatat using music before i was ever part of a sangha and i still attend shows sometimes this is the only way i can let go and live in the moment.I think Robert thurman once compared the release of a rock concert or an artist in the zone as the feeling of satori.nice post!

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