I'm sorry, you missed what is considered by some to be the finest photograph of a loudspeaker ever taken Music 007: Noise
Yale University, Departmet of Music
Fall 2009
MW 1:00-2:15 Stoeckel 107
Prof. Brian Kane

Music for Loudspeakers,
or what has come to be affectionately known as "Le basse-cour électronique."

The project: to understand how noise can be shaped for compositional purposes by working with the simplest electronic musical circuit known to man.

Each student was supplied with 1 loudspeaker, 1 9V battery and 3 testing leads.

fter a long semester of studying noise, it was time for a project. We had read numerous texts--Russolo's Art of Noises, R. Murray Schafer's The Soundscape, John Cage's Silence, Jacques Attali's Noise: the political economy of music, Douglas Kahn's Noise Water Meat, and essays by Aldous Huxley, Abraham Moles, Frances Dyson, Daniel Herwitz, Noel Carroll, Edgard Varèse, Henry Cowell, Michael Nyman, Marjorie Perloff. We met with Peter Ablinger to fathom the difference between Weiss and Weisslich, went on sound walks, wrote about the Yale soundscape and perused the pages of the Russolo's writings at the Beinecke (and learned something about typographical noise in the process). We thought about noise in the contexts of information theory, political economy, capitalism, systems of signification (and the avoidance thereof), architectural acoustics, philosophy, music, sound and silence.

It was time for the laying on of hands.

Each student was given a small configuration, including a loudspeaker, a battery and some testing leads. (We soon discovered an important commandment: thou shalt not purchase testing leads en masse from Jameco, unless thou seeketh great disappointment.) The goal was simple, to produce the most interesting sounds possible given the apparatus. What can be added to the circuit to leverage the affordances of the system? Can the vibrating diaphragm of the speaker also be used as a feedback loop for opening and closing the circuit?

Each student's recording is posted below. (Warning: these are loud!) Then the recordings were assembled into a web-based installation.

The original recordings:

A pleasant rumble produced by a chain of paper clips wired into the circuit. When the clips are attached to the cap of the loudspeaker, an autonomous system is created. Look ma no hands!

By flipping the speaker over and applying voltage to the wire leading to the leads, a coloratura is born.
An attempt at getting a "clear pitch" by wedging a coin between the cap and diaphragm and activating with a safety pin.

By attaching an Altoids tin to the speaker with a rubber band the pitch is can be continuously modulated. A pocket sized member of the intonarumori?

Striving for a high, continuous squeal via some nail clippers. The result: an expressive ratcheting with modulating pitch. Cindy's voice adds counterpoint!

A retractable metal shot glass and the cage from a champagne bottle produce a pleasant rumbling.
A small rectangle of aluminum appropriated from a spent can of soda adds a pleasant metallic tinkle.

A piece of tissue paper supports a small square of aluminum foil, producing a kazoo-like timbre. The whole apparatus is seated on two bottle caps, to produce extra resonance.

A pocket toolkit releases an inner voice.

The faculty and staff made a contribution.

Brian Kane:

Scott Petersen:
A thin sheet of metal over the speaker, wedged between the cap and diaphragm, makes a percussive musical saw.
We forced him to improvise and ended up with some tasty experiments with resonators.
A group improvisation followed.

All together now:

And dont forget to visit the installation!