The Noise Floor: Signal and Noise

Peter Krapp’s chapter Noise Floor: Between Tinnitus and Raw Data discusses sound glitch by differentiating between noise and signal and between sound and sound art. Ultimately, Krapp realizes the potential of glitch in sound production, and its uses in innovation alongside the history of digital technology and evolution of sound.

The difference between noise and signal, according to Krapp, is under the intention in which the sound is made. Noise is to exclude all other sounds, and is a sound that is not intentionally made. Signals are sounds that have meaning and are created with a purpose.

The emphasis placed on intention in the chapter is interesting and yet again reminds me of various communication theories. Noise can occur in communicative capacities regardless of intent. Noise can also alter an interaction and create a different message than what was intended for the receiver.

The relationship between sound and sound art is a little more nuanced and complicated. The glitches that occur with digital technology allow for new sounds to be created. Digital noises, or “raw data,” as used by Krapp, are used in experimentation that often results in transformed works, different from music of prior eras (53).

Much of the rest of the chapter also reminds me of videos I have watched recently, in which music is created from the multitude of sounds computers make in everyday use. The various noises are arranged and repeated to musical pieces that sound similar to classical songs. Ordinary noises can be used to make recognizable art, but can regularly understood music can likewise be glitched to be nearly indecipherable.

Krapp concludes the chapter with the reminder that there is very much a spectrum of error and control on which the noise versus signal and sound versus sound art falls in the relationship between people and digital technology. The question here, I wonder, is whether or not either ends of this spectrum can be reached and what the implications of that may be.

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One thought on “The Noise Floor: Signal and Noise

  1. This may be a bit off topic, but when you mentioned the extremes of the spectrum of error and control, and sound versus sound art it go me thinking of AI technology and that lead me to question the ability of that type of technology making music in the future and where that would potentially be placed in the spectrum.

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