A Study in Pink (Noise)

For my final project, I really wanted to try to do something that is very different from my previous works and really move beyond my comfort zone. I also wanted to interact with as many of the concepts that I learned about in the course as possible. At the end, I decided that I wanted to compose a “song” but the subject that would allow me to use multiple techniques proved to be difficult. The inspiration for the piece came after listening to so many pieces that they all started to become one continuous blur. At that point, as a result of frustration, I thought to myself that since everything sounds the same, why don’t I just listen to everything. Then, I spent about 49 minutes listening to pink noise.

Even though it was a joke that I placed upon myself, it turn out to be a much more valuable experience than I thought it would be. Shortly turning on the pink noise generator, I also started a recording of myself so I can, more or less, note down what I was feeling without moving myself too much. The piece is my attempt at describing my experience of listening to just pure noise using foley, a recorded electric guitar melody, “prepared guitar” where I used a knife to make scratches and pops on the guitar.

At the start, there was a sense of chaos, a feeling of being overwhelmed, that there were too many things going on at the same time. The feeling was expressed with a low rumble that persisted for the majority of the piece. The background chatter was used to express the looming pink noise but I chose to use chatter because after a while, I started to tune out to the sound much like background chatter in real life. The guitar line that was present throughout to illustrate the thoughts that entered my head, they were usually short ideas that were quick to fade. At times, I would try to hold onto them, but they would eventually slip away partly because I didn’t want anything to stay in my mind during the process. It was very much a meditation. A little over halfway through the piece, there was a “quiet” section. In this section, I muted the low rumble and raised the volume of the “prepared guitar” track (which was actually present since the beginning). At this point during the listening session, I became very conscious of all the little movements of myself and I felt that the prepared guitar was the perfect way to express it.

For me, the project was quite an experience both in terms of development and execution. I found that, after this project, I feel significantly more receptive towards noise, discordance, and silence that I ever was. Even though the featured guitar track was very much constructed traditionally, I felt that the scratches, pops, and fuzzes from the prepared guitar was absolutely essential to the piece. The final project was a way for me to really move beyond my comfort zone since the majority of my work in the class was very studio-like in the process, where recordings were very clean. While the components of the piece were still very deliberate, I feel that it is a good step for me to move beyond my current frame of thinking and approach towards sound.


One thought on “A Study in Pink (Noise)

  1. Chai,

    This is fabulous. The piece is beautiful, and the textures you have woven create an incredibly satisfying listening experience. The concept is also fascinating, and your execution of the concept is very successful. Watch out for the low frequencies, which are a bit overwhelming at points.

    After reading your description, the listener is able to feel like they are ‘inside your head’ experiencing your meditation from a firsthand perspective. This reminds me a lot of your sonic cinematic project, but unlike that work it doesn’t rely on a spoken narrative — you are able to convey the entire experience through abstract sound and composition. Your decision to leave your comfort zone paid off in the best possible way–this is your strongest piece this semester. Really great work. Congrats!


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