Not Enough Noise


I’m reading Alex Ross’s The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century If you are a youngster like me, you forget that there’s a whole wealth of musical history lying out there prior to, oh, say when the Beatles stormed America. And, when I saw the title of this book, I thought it might actually be about noise, you know, like Converter-style noise.

Ah, no.

Ross is talking about classical music. While I will admit to a rather weak knowledge of classical music, I certainly am one to have my head turned by a good phrase. For example [about Richard Strauss’ Salome]: “An extraordinary sound emanates from the lower brass and winds: the opera’s introductory motif is telescoped–with one half-step chord–into a single glowering chord. Above it, the flutes and clarinets launch into an obsessively elongated trill. Salome’s love themes rise up again…The orchestra attempts to restore order with an ending in C minor, but succeeds only in adding to the tumult: the horns play fast figures that blur into a howl, the timpani pound away at a four-note chromatic pattern, the woodwinds shriek on high. In effect, the opera ends with eight bars of noise.”

It won’t sound like I imagine it should. I need a rhythmic noise opera. Complete with a couple hundred sopranos. It’ll take at least that many to drown out the pneumatic drill and the chainsaw on sheet metal.