“Music is a sort of noise, it whiles away for the odd half hour but if lasts for any longer bores everyone, though no one dares to say so. Music nowadays is simply the art of executing something that is difficult to perform, and in the long run, something that is merely difficult, ceases to amuse”Voltaire, Candid
Welcome to the silent music page. If you are looking to stimulate your ears with some of my actual sounds see Ear Stimulants
There must be silence so noise can be distinguished from music. Even the best music can become too much if played for too long or too loudly or too often. The louder my environment becomes, the more insensitive and impatient I become to it.
Music today can be amplified to physically painful levels for unlimited amount of time and result in adverse health effects. It’s peculiar to me that some people love listening to music really loudly.
Douglas Adams also pondered on loudness. Thus he wrote about the loudest band in the universe:
“Disaster Area was a plutonium rock band from the Gagrakacka Mind Zones and was generally regarded as not only the loudest rock band in the Galaxy, but also as being the loudest noise of any kind at all. Regular concert goers judged that the best sound balance was usually to be heard from within large concrete bunkers some thirty-seven miles away from the stage, whilst the musicians themselves played their instruments by remote control from within a heavily insulated spaceship which stayed in orbit around the planet – or more frequently around a completely different planet.
Their songs are on the whole very simple and mostly follow the familiar theme of boy-being meets girl-being beneath silvery moon, which then explodes for no adequately explored reason.
Many worlds have now banned their act altogether, sometimes for artistic reasons, but most commonly because the band’s public address system contravenes local strategic arms limitations treaties.
This has not, however, stopped their earnings from pushing back the boundaries of hypermathematics, and their chief research accountant has recently been appointed Professor of Neomathematics at the University of Maximegalon, in recognition of both his General and his Special Theories of Disaster Area Tax Returns, in which he proves that the whole fabric of the space-time continuum is not merely curved, it is in fact totally bent.Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
When I play, write, record or practice music, I try to be kind to my neighbours, my lover and myself by not pursuing perfection and settling for mediocracy. My interest in music, sound and noise is wide and i try to keep it like that. If a particular project require instrumental expertise, I prefer to work with someone else. It’s always nicer together. Over the years, the people i collaborated with inspired me to keep going and without the constant feedback of collaborators i would probably get bored with making music.
When I don’t have anyone to play with, I practice and play my growing collection of musical instruments and sound making gadgets. This includes two bass guitars, one is a standard 4 string and the other is a special Kala Uke Bass with strings made of nylon core with silver plated windings. In some of the songs I play Bouzouki, Banjo, Charango, Glockenspiel, Clarinet, Nylon string guitar, my beloved Ernie Ball Musician Silhouette electric guitar I got for my sixteenth birthday and assorted percussive instruments. For electronic sounds there are a few Korg synths including 2 Kaoss pads, Microkorg and a Roland V-11 electronic drum kit. software instrument are mainly Native Instruments Komplete and Logic X built in VST instruments. Recently I’ve added a real flute and a tabla to the collection but the road is still long until I place a microphone anywhere near it.
Today I still work in the grey area between culture and entertainment in the radio, museum, various music festivals and in collaboration with artists and filmmakers.
My grandpa used to play classical music and opera at home. He introduced me to the Beethoven, Mozart and Chikovsky. I’d listen to the Nutcracker and Beethoven 5th tapes before i’d go to sleep along with other tapes of children songs in Hebrew. My early childhood romance with classical music ended when i started to have friends and mainstream pop music was a thing. at the age of thirteen I picked up my cousin old guitar and decided I want to major in music in high school. Naturally, the guitar and my cousin led me to discover rock music and admire the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Joe Satriani, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Dream Theatre and later King Crimson Genesis, Pink Floyd, Radiohead and the likes.
Local folk music was always in the radio in the background and some of it i liked and still love. Some of it I mocked but when I hear it today, it’s nostalgic. Maybe because Israeli music is less common in Australia.
At the time I started with the guitar, my childish admiration was to music that was loud or difficult to perform. I categorised the music I liked as good. Music I didn’t like was dismissed with accusations of being too popular, too corny, to middle eastern and In general, I disliked what I categorised as bogan music. Often, social circumstances co-insided with musical flavours to deter or attract me from engaging. For example, the rock music I was inspired to play and listen to in the high school music room or at home with friends had a comforting and pleasant effect on me. Where being at a typical popular high school party or a wedding involved loud and “simple” popular music with middle eastern melodies and unexpected behaviours by people that made me feel anxious at times… I felt that these sort of social gatherings imposed inferior music on me that I did not want to be culturally associated with in my adolescence struggle to define my identity.
I took private lessons with the local guitar teacher hero who I could hear smoking bongs before the lesson when I was waiting outside. He taught me basic scales and songs and how to play famous rock and roll solos (the Hotel California Solo, Sweet Child of Mine etc.) At that time, I wanted to be a rock star. I also started doing some shifts at a local sound company which scored me backstage entry into the dubious glamour of the arts and entertainment industry. I played around with large PA systems, trucks, technical production, logistics and for the first time, the human substance, the ego and attitudes of real performers, PR people and management. At that time, my musical aspirations were underdeveloped and mainly consisted of being good at music, which to me meant playing fast guitar solos. The shredding of John Patrucci, Steve Vai, Slash, and others was the holy grail. It took me a while to realise fast and loud does not equal good…
One day, when I was sitting in the school yard during a break, Sarah, the hippy girl from my class approached with her minidisk and headphones. “you gotta listen to this”. She stressed and fitted her headphones on my head. When she pressed play, she started a new area of music appreciation in my heart.
The sound that came out of those headphones was something i’ve never heard before. The track was taken from “Go Plastic” an album by Squarepusher. It was consistent of the fastest and clearest beats I’ve ever heard, intertwined with infectious jazz inspired groove manipulated in ways I never thought possible, while the melody was subtle to nonexistent. Squarpusher’s music proved to me that anything that is difficult or impossible to perform for a human, can be made ‘perfect’ with electronic music. I saw it as a sign to explore this kind of music more, and worry less about performing complicated guitar solos. I also had no chance of standing out in a music class of about 30 students, half of which are guitarist that picked up a guitar years before me. By the last year of high school i had a different guitar teacher, he didn’t smoke bongs in hiding and taught me to love improvisation. Playing together was what made the difference, but more than playing, it was learning when to listen and when to be quite, when to lead and when to follow and drift. The new approach to music came in the form of listening to new music as much as it was in the form of playing differently and experimenting with technology. As the joke about music goes: “what is the difference between Rock and Roll and Jazz? – In Rock music, you play four chords to ten thousand people. In Jazz, you play ten thousand chords to four people”. I stopped caring about my audience and delved into the world of listening, focusing more on time and scales. i tried to follow Bach’s advice – “Playing music is easy, all you need to do is to play the right note at the right time”. I don’t know if he actually said that.
Many sleepless nights went by (for my mother and possibly some neighbours) when my friends and I was categorically downloading and listening to music while getting high on weed. We’d explore the world of jazz from contemporary American grooves to oldies and the great European jazz label ECM with artist like Miroslav Vitous, Terje Rypdal, Meredith Monk and many others. Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett and traditional jazz musicians were also featuring regularly on the playlist.
The attempt by contemporary musicians to take the fluid nature of classical and jazz music and combine it with modern electronic sounds fascinated me the most and i tried to keep abreast of the latest releases and backlog of albums. Me and my friends would maintain an infinite list and listen to it categorically. Most of my modest teenage salary would go for CD’s.
I started to get into the music of Bjork, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Aphex Twin, Mr Bungle, John Zorn. By the time i was 21 I was working at a commercial recording and post production studio in Tel Aviv, recording mainstream music and working on sound post-production for television and cinema while rehearsing and writing music with my band after hours in the studio.
As the variety of music i listen to grew, i stopped thinking about what is good music as i started to be more aware of the affect silence has on music and the complicated relationship between music and noise. In the simplest terms, the paradox is apparent when trying to listen to your favourite tune on repeat. At some point, everyone would get sick of it and it would become a disturbance rather than a source of pleasure.
I dream that one day I will live in a world where every sound is pleasant music and life is a dance.
With no particular order or purpose, some assorted artists / artworks / books of significant cultural value:
On the Sensations of Tone – Hermann Helmholtz
For understanding the relationship between sound and music.
The World in Six Songs – Daniel Levitin
For an overview on what role music played in the evolution of the human brain.
This is Your Brain on Music – Daniel Levitin
For a neurological perspective on how the brain respond to music.
Musicophillia – Oliver Sacks
Extraordinarily compelling accounts of real musical “disorders” in people and the role music has on people who experience physical and mental disadvantages due to illness.
The First Word – Christine Keneally
Further reading. The history of linguistics gracefully laid out to give music further context.
Essay on the Origin of Languages – Jean-Jacque Rousseau
A convincing pre-neuroscince argument for music preceding language.
Discord – Mike Goldsmith
A history of noise. with fascinating legal and social anecdotes.
The Great Animal Orchestra – Bernie Kraus
A delightful book sound and the delicate sonic fabric of nature and the animal kingdom and the devastating effect human development impart on it.
The Universal Sense – Seth Horowitz
Tales of hearing mechanics.
Noise – Jacques Attali
The political economy of noise.
Perfecting Sound Forever – Greg Milner
The story of the development of recorded music.
Music Quickens Time – Daniel Barenboim
An account of how music knows no boundaries.
Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free – Cory Doctorow.
Laws for the digital age. Slightly off topic, ever so relevant given this platform.
The Real Frank Zappa Book
For archival and reference purposes – Here’s a list of my 42 most influential artists and albums
42 artists in no particular order:
Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Bjork, Radiohead, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Robert Wyatt, Medeski Martin & Wood, Squarepusher, Autechre, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Silver Mt Zion, Frank Zappa, Mike Patton, John Zorn, Bill Evans, Fredriech Chopin, Bach, TV on the Radio, Portishead, Kaveret, Massive Attack, Manu Delago, Philip Glass, Hanne Hukkelberg, Gorillaz, Mum, Beck, Pat Metheny, Alog, Paco De Lucia, Matt Elliott, Zakir Hussain, Prefuse 73, Miroslav Vitous, Gary Peacock, King Crimson, Nine Inch Nails, Sigur Ros, Terje Rypdal
42 Albums in no particular order:
The Four Seasons (Vivaldi) – Recomposed by Max Richter
The Nutckracker – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
In a Silent Way – Miles Davis
Rock Bottom – Robert Wyatt
The Koln Concert – Keith Jarrett
My Spanish Heart – Chick Corea
Red – King Crimson
Making Music – Zakir Hussain
Selling England by the Pound – Genesis
The Grand Wazoo – Frank Zappa
California – Mr Bungle
If You Wait – London Grammar
Black Sands – Bonobo
Damon Days – Gorillaz
Horses in the Sky – Silver Mt Zion
Strange Place for Snow – Esbjorn Svensson Trio
Sea Change – Back
Go Plastic – Squarepusher
La Maison de Mon Reve – CocoRosie
Dummy – Portishead
Metamorphosis – Philip Glass
Amelie – Yann Tiersen
Vespertine – Bjork
An Awesome Wave – Alt J
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
Ys – Joanna Newsome
Protection – Massive Attack
Ok Computer – Radiohead
Tripper – Efterklang
Little Things – Hanne Hukkleberg
Mitz – The Apples
Uninvisible – Medeski Martin and Wood
Peeping Tom – Mike Patton
Duck Rabbit – Alog
Universal Syncopations – Miroslav Vitous
The Mess We Made – Matt Elliott
Sirens – Nicholas Jaar
Simple Things – Zero 7
Mercy – Meredith Monk
M Ward – Transistor Radio
Rounds – Fourtet
Eureka – Jim O’Rourke