Re-Noise Machine – Michael Importico

Polyphonic Noise Extractor

I want to further explore the idea of amplifying or listing to sounds and noises that would not get heard normally.  I want to amplify existing tones and noises, subtle near undetectable sounds.  I want to listen to the sounds of the spaces and objects that surround me.  I hope to achieve this through a deep listening device as the foundation of the noise machine.  I want to attach a microphone to a stethoscope, or maybe even multiple iterations of the stethoscope to attache/listen to multiple locations of an object or architecture for a polyphonic experience.  I hope to hear a cacophonous arrangement of drones and clicks from the imperceptible vibrations of architecture.  Or the over-driven vibration and scream of a drill running at full blast.

I like the idea of a noise listening device, because I feel like I am surrounded by noise machines, and they need to be considered in that context.  The idea of a noise extractor sets the user up to go exploring and seek and listen in a way that was never possible, or very interesting.

This idea of deep listening is not a new one.  I first heard this term from Pauline Oliveros, and she was talking about the ever present frequencies and reverberations.

But I want to take this in a very different direction than pauline Oliveros, I want to head away from the meditative reverberations,  and seek out the brain jangling noises, the noises that can not be ignored any longer.

Question: Is further modulation needed in order to qualify these amplified sounds as noise?

Things I want to extract noise from:

My studio walls

a tree with the wind blowing through its leaves

my car while in motion

my cook top while vigorously boiling water

//these are just a few ideas, many more opportunities will present themselves once this device is created.

Michael Importico


7 thoughts on “Re-Noise Machine – Michael Importico

  1. Hey Michael,

    The thing that most excites me about this is the anthropomorphization of a building through your idea to “to amplify existing tones and noises, subtle near undetectable sounds.” I am curious if you are thinking about the listening end as headphones or speakers? Will the user explore the building, or have any visual reference to the space? If not, is there an ideal listening environment you wish to create?
    Also, as I just commented on Miles’ proposal, I am seeing some interesting similarities – yet distinct opposites – between the two ideas.


    • Lazae,
      Great questions. I envision this being translated to either speakers or headphones. There will be amplification. I do want the user to move with the device and explore on their own. I hope to have multiple ‘listing tentacles’ or nodes which, depending on placement will return different sounds, either slightly modulated or completely different. With this arrangement of the physical placement of each node, the user will sculpt and mix their noise.

    • Thanks David! I just was reading about these contact piezo mics which seem like exactly what I might need. I also considered somehow putting a mic at the end of the tube from a stethoscope. I’m not sure how physically possible it is, but I will see what I can do with the different tubes and microphones.


  2. Stethoscope! I once had a very vague performance idea using piezo embed stethoscope, but ended up left behind.. I think I even have one at home, can find it for you if you need it. Really want to see this happen!

    For the question, I agree with David that no further modulations should be applied – the modulated sounds are not themselves anymore and that’s not what you want right? 🙂 However, it sounds to me that you don’t only want to make an “extractor” but also somehow make a “zoom in” listening experience? If this is the case then you might need to use compressor for the inputs in order to hear the full details of some sounds.


  3. So this is not cheap, but in addition to the stethoscope mic which I brought today, and completely forgot to show you…this site has some interesting options for contact mics:

    The very first item on their page is a stethoscope mic…I wonder if you could use it as inspiration to build your own.

    Hmmm…is it just me, or are tons of people using contact mics? We were going to have a build-your-own contact-mic party during the found-sound segment. Perhaps I’ll have to see if I can shuffle things around and push it up. I’ll think on it.

  4. P.s. can I just say: I love this idea. I was recording on Christmas Eve, and it was insanely quiet — except for the buildings. I recorded some ridiculously loud building sounds. And it’s interesting because it’s essentially the ‘new’ silence — this rising noise floor that we tend not to even notice. Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing where you go with this. Love Pauline Oliveros fan, too. We will be looking into her work after spring break. -Abby

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