Noise Machine Ideas

What I do know for sure is that I want my noise machine to be interactive.  As a classically trained musician, I find that people are not interested in trying to play my instrument.  They are worried about sounding bad and thus are very inhibited and don’t even give themselves a chance.  A noise machine, however, would be much more inviting to try to play and improvise with because it is not supposed to sound like professionally performed music – it is supposed to sound like noise! Creating sound and noise is a joyful thing that not enough people let themselves experience.  So a few ideas I have for interactive noise machines:

1. Percussion improvisation noise machine.  I would first create a set of audio tracks using a combination of actual music and sounds that are distorted to sound less like music and more like noise.  These tracks would be amplified through a speaker and played continuously.  The speaker would then be surrounded by a setup designed for the user to play – basically any household objects, natural materials, anything – that can be played with set of drumsticks in reaction to the audio tracks.  The setup would surround the user completely so that he or she is completely immersed in this noise machine and feels like part of it.  Anyone can play the machine; it requires no training or experience.   It is meant to be a safe place to improvise.

2. Immersive delay noise machine.  An idea that unfortunately I would probably not have the resources to create it at the scale that I would want to see it at… regardless.  This would be a display in a public space, indoors.  The machine would consist of several ultra-sensitive microphones with the gain set extremely high.  The microphones would then be connected to an input that records the sounds and plays them back with different amounts of delay.  The result would be lots of noise.  For example, just a person’s footsteps would be recorded and played back at several different times and speeds.  The output would also be detected by the microphones and re-entered as new input to create an endless wave of sounds building upon themselves.  The sound of several people moving about the room, breathing, and talking would create a whirlwind of noise.  Those in the noise machine would have some control over the input of noises but not necessarily the output.

3. Hand-cranked noise machine. This would be similar to the wind sound machine that I found in my search for noise machines: a barrel with a hand crank.  However, the inside would be filled with found objects to create noise.  It would also have a platform in it so that the objects would have a surface to land on and fall from to create even more noise.  This machine could be played anywhere – it is not necessary for it to be site-specific.

-Allyson Edington

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One thought on “Noise Machine Ideas

  1. Following up on these ideas… I think that #1 and #3 would be more appropriate for the “Found Sound” projects; #2 is more of an actual noise machine. After some thinking, I could create an extremely miniature version of this. It could just be a small wooden box with a microphone inserted in one side and a speaker inserted in the other. The box could be opened or closed and have a variety of options for liners with different acoustic properties. The microphone would be hooked up to a computer that takes the initial sound as input and provides a delayed and/or modified sound as an output. This output would be played through the speaker in this box. The entire unit could be small and portable and used as an electronic accessory to modify any sound.

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