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Sonic Information

This nOde last updated October 8th, 2001 and is permanently morphing...
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Sonic information comes from natural and artificial sources. Natural sources, those caused without the direct internal linkintervention of humankind, come from the elemental world (such as a murmuring wind or deafening thunder), the plant world (such as cracking and falling sounds), and the animal world (such as the rubbing of the elytrons [wing-shells] of insects or the trumpeting of elephants), or the interaction of these worlds. Artificial sonic information comes from a wide range of sources, from speech to the noise of tools, from song to polyphonic instrumental music, and extending to artificially created sounds.

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Music is an improvised or pre-organized alternation of isolated or grouped sounds and silence, within certain internal linktime limits. A more or less aesthetic and meaningful content can be ascribed to these alternating sounds and silence according to their original source and their destination. Music's final value is determined both by environmental factors and by history.

This definition of music specifies its limits in relation both to time and to its insertion in the sociocultural context whose characteristics are changing with extreme rapidity.

It is evident that music is more limited in time than the visual arts. The visual arts can be very limited in space - easel painting is an example - or they can go beyond their traditional spatial limits and beyond the spatial limits of music, as seen with sculpture (Eiffel Tower) and architecture (Rockefeller Centre). We can thus consider music to be more handicapped in its freedom of expansion and conception than the visual arts, even if contemporary technology enlarges its spatial field of action. Its percussive quality, however, its capacity to "densify" sonic effects within a limited space-time framework and to induce concentration, gives it an increased power on the level of perception-reception.

Enclosing a musical work within a concert hall for a limited period with an equally limited public is as "anti-socio-cultural"  as enclosing visual works inside museums with limited spaces and entrance fees. But, while visual art, through architecture and sculpture, has broken down these barriers, music remains enclosed, if only inside appliances such as radios, record players, tape recorders or television sets.

We must liberate music !

- _Sonic and Visual Structures : Theory and Experiment_ by Nicolas Schoffer

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