Main content

What's All that Noise?

Tom Service considers when is noise just noise and when is it music. He finds that, though we resent noises in the concert hall, music needs some noise in it to give it character.

The Listening Service - an odyssey through the musical universe with Tom Service. Join him on a journey of imagination and insight, exploring how music works.

Today - What's all that that Noise? Tom investigates. When is noise just noise, and when is it music? Is it just sound in the wrong place? Tom finds that, though we resent noises in the concert hall, music needs some noise in it to give it character. He also investigates the contemporary genre of Noise Music at an avant-garde club. He considers noise in our daily lives, and talks to Emily Cockayne, author of Hubbub: Filth, Noise and Stench in England 1600-1770; and to David Hendy, author of Noise: a Human History. We can't avoid noise, so can we learn to love it?

Tune in and rethink music with The Listening Service...

Available now

29 minutes

Music Played

  • Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

    Double Keyboard Concerto in E flat Wq47

    Performer: Miklos Sanyi. Performer: Tamás Szekendy. Performer: Concerto Armonico Budapest.
    • BACH, C.P.E: Keyboard Concertos (Complete), Vol. 20.
    • BIS.
  • Igor Stravinsky

    Rite of Spring (last section)

    Performer: The Philadelphia Orchestra. Performer: Riccardo Muti.
    • EMI.
  • György Ligeti

    Etude for Piano Book 1, No.1

    Performer: Pierre‐Laurent Aimard.
    • Ligeti: Works for Piano.
    • Sony Classical.
  • Frederic Rzewski

    Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues (North American Ballads, no.4)

    • North American Ballads.
    • HAT HUT HAT.
    • 4.
  • Richard Wagner

    Ride of the Valkyries (Die Walkure)

    Orchestra: Cleveland Orchestra. Conductor: George Szell.
    • SONY CLASSICS.
  • Peter Bellamy

    The Ballad of Henry & Susannah (part 1)

    Performer: Peter Bellamy.
    • The Transports: A Ballad Opera By Peter Bellamy.
    • Free Reed.
  • Morton Feldman & FLUX Quartet

    String Quartet no.2

    • Feldman Edition Volume 6.
    • Mode.
  • Hirihito

    Metaric Machine

    • Tokyo Invasion Vol.1.
    • Virgin.
    • 10.
  • Vomir

    untitled composition

    • Live performance from Cafe Oto.
  • Helmut Lachenmann

    Tableau

    Performer: Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra. Performer: Hans Zender.
    • Lachenmann - Ausklang, Tableau..
    • Col Legno.
  • Bob Crosby's Bobcats

    Big Noise From Winnetka

    • Raging Bull OST.
    • EMI.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Chaconne from Partita no.2 in D minor BWV1004

    Performer: Thomas Gould.
    • Bach to Parker - Thomas Gould.
    • Champs Hill.
  • Masonna and Yamazaki Takushi

    Spectrum Ripper

    • Anthology of Noise & Electronic Music Vol.5.
    • Sub Rosa.
    • 11.
  • Edgard Varèse

    Ameriques

    Orchestra: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Conductor: Riccardo Chailly.
    • Varèse - The Complete Works.
    • Decca.

Broadcasts

Why do we call it 'classical' music?

Why do we call it 'classical' music?

Tom Service poses a very simple question (with a not-so-simple answer).

Six of the world's most extreme voices

Six of the world's most extreme voices

From babies to Mongolian throat singers: whose voice is the most extreme of all?

How did the number 12 revolutionise music?

How did the number 12 revolutionise music?

How Schoenberg opened a new cosmos for composers and listeners to explore.

Why are we all addicted to bass?

Why are we all addicted to bass?

Bass is everywhere, but why do we enjoy it? Join Tom Service on a journey of discovery.

Watch the animations

Watch the animations

Join Tom Service on a musical journey through beginnings, repetition and bass lines.

When does noise become music?

When does noise become music?

We like to think we can separate “noise” from “music”, but is it that simple?

Podcast