A contribution to Disquiet Junto Project 0398: Rauschen Bern https://disquiet.com/2019/08/15/disquiet-junto-project-0398-rauschen-bern/
The Assignment: Make music by making a collage of noises.
This project is the first of three that are being done in collaboration with Musikfestival Bern, which will be held in Switzerland from September 11 through 15. For this reason, a German translation is provided below. We are working with Tobias Reber, an early Junto participant, who is in charge of the educational activities of the festival. Select recordings resulting from these three Disquiet Junto projects will be played publicly as part of the Rauschlabor Schützenmatte (musikfestivalbern.ch 5) or broadcast on the festival’s radio show, Radio Antenne (radioantenne.ch 1).
Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the German word “rauschen.” Understand that “rauschen” is noise in the sense of white noise, waterfall noise, background noise, static, wind in trees, rain, etc. The blurred, diffuse, continuous kind of noise, not short individual non-tonal sounds.
Step 2: Consider that the word “rauschen” is half of the family name of the late artist Robert Rauschenberg, who was famed for his collages.
Step 3: Record several “rauschen” noises and make a sonic collage of them.
For the raw material, I used extracts from recordings I made while inter-railing in France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium in the second week of August: of heavy rain on a station platform, of the characteristic sounds of carriages, inside and out including the hubbub of voices (and in one case, the sound of dice being rolled in an on-board game of ludo).
The assignment made me think of Franz Kafka, whose first projected book was to have been an account of a train journey in central Europe, authored jointly with his friend Max Brod. But it was his writings about the telephone that seemed especially pertinent here. In 'The Castle' he referred to the rustling and singing ('Rauschen und Gesang') that seemed to render it extremely unreliable as a means of communication, and alluding also perhaps to the common experience of early users of the technology who imagined they heard the voices of the dead in the crackling static. (See J Hillis Miller, 'K. on the Telephone' in The Conflagration of Community, 2011).
I tried to layer the recordings so they approached the indistinct background noise of a telephone line, but foregrounded certain voices and other sounds in places to suggest the ghostly communications - the singing - some thought they detected in the purely electromagnetic interference.