Sep 28| Noise & Music | Reaper Intro

Read Before Class


In Class

  • Introduce Cooper’s sound effects library
  • Introduce the Sound Room and Animation lab, Media Drives, reservations, etc.
  • 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.
    • Watch the excellent Video Tutorials (and some more 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 wouldn’t suggest it for anything more interesting than that.
  • Burn (Mac only) is very similar to the popular CD/DVD burning app Toast, but free and open source.
  • Until recently, every New Year’s Eve at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, you could experience something akin to “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.