Feb 10| Noise & Music | Reaper Intro

Read Before Class


In Class

  • Introduce Cooper’s sound effects library
  • Introduce audio editing and exporting in Reaper.
  • Discuss noise and the way it was rejected and accepted, aestheticized and modified by 20th century artists and composers:
  • Explore the percussive symphonic noise of Edgard Varése, the mimicry of Russolo’s Intonarumori, the actualities of Musique Concrete, and John Cage’s embrace of all sounds as inherently musical.


  • Russolo – Intonarumori samples (on ubuweb)
  • Varése – “Ionizations” (alternate version on ubuweb)
  • Schaeffer – “Etude Aux Chemins De Fer” AKA “Railroad Study” (excerpt on youtube)
  • Cage – “Williams Mix” (excerpt on media art net)
  • Cage documentary from “4 American Composers” series
    (dir. Peter Greenaway, available on ubuweb)

Further Research

  • In class today we introduced Reaper, a multi-track audio editor that you can download and evaluate for free (Mac & Windows) without time limits. If you continue to use it, you are morally obligated to spend $60 to register it. (In contrast Pro Tools has been the industry standard multi-track audio editor for years. It has artificial limitations, an outrageous price tag, and draconian copy-protection. Media professionals still use it because it works fine and they learned it in school. You don’t need to make the same mistake.)
    • I suggest downloading the 32-bit version, not the 64-bit version (for plugin compatibility reasons)
    • Reaper supports AU & VST format plugins on the Mac, and VST plugins on Windows. There are many free and inexpensive plugins produced for these formats, so look around the web periodically. Here’s a 3-part guide (from 2013) to get you started.
    • Don’t forget to download the PDF Reaper User Guide.
    • Check out the free Tutorials For Reaper on YouTube.
  • Audacity (Linux, Mac, Win) is a free open source editor that makes sense if you just want to edit the length of something, or apply simple changes like loudness. I would not suggest using it for multi-track mixing.
  • Burn (Mac only) is very similar to the popular CD/DVD burning app Toast, but free and open source.
  • Every New Year’s Eve at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, you can recreate “Symphony of the Sirens” thanks to their chief mechanical engineer and his collection of whistles. Seriously!
  • Space Calculated in Seconds by Marc Treib. A book describing the Philips pavilion at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair (focusing on Poeme Electronique and the work of Le Corbusier, Iannis Xenakis, and Edgard Varése).
  • An in-depth blog entry about Poeme Electronique.
  • John Cage’s excellent book, Silence.