Noise music is a category of music that is characterised by the expressive use of noise within
a musical context. This type of music tends to
challenge the distinction that is made in
conventional musical practices between musical and non-musical sound. Noise music includes a wide range of musical styles and sound-based creative practices that feature noise as a primary aspect. It can feature acoustically or electronically generated noise, and both traditional and
unconventional musical instruments. It may
incorporate live machine sounds, non-musical vocal techniques, physically manipulated audio media, processed sound recordings, field recording, computer-generated noise, stochastic process, and other randomly produced electronic signals such as distortion, feedback, static, hiss and hum. There may also be emphasis on high volume levels and
lengthy, continuous pieces. More generally noise
music may contain aspects such as improvisation, extended technique, cacophony and indeterminacy, and in many instances conventional use of melody, harmony, rhythm and pulse is dispensed with.
The Futurist art movement was important for the development of the noise aesthetic, as was the Dada art movement (a prime example being the Antisymphony concert performed on April 30, 1919 in Berlin), and later the Surrealist and Fluxus art movements, specifically the Fluxus artists Joe Jones, Yasunao Tone, George Brecht, Robert Watts, Wolf Vostell, Dieter Roth, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Walter De Maria’s Ocean Music, Milan Knížák’s Broken Music Composition, early LaMonte Young and Takehisa Kosugi.
Contemporary noise music is often associated with extreme volume and distortion. In the domain of experimental rock, examples include Jimi Hendrix’s use of feedback, Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, and Sonic Youth. Other examples of music that contain noise-based features include
works by Iannis Xenakis, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Helmut Lachenmann, Cornelius Cardew, Theatre of Eternal Music, Glenn Branca, Rhys Chatham, Ryoji Ikeda, Survival Research Laboratories, Whitehouse, Ramleh , Coil, Brighter Death Now, Merzbow, Cabaret Voltaire, Psychic TV, Blackhouse, Jean Tinguely’s recordings of his sound sculpture (specifically Bascule VII), the music of Hermann Nitsch’s Orgien Mysterien Theater, and La Monte Young’s bowed gong works from the late 1960s. Genres such as industrial, industrial techno, lo-fi music, black metal, sludge metal, and glitch music employ noise-based materials.