Riffs: Ideas of Noise

By Nicholas Gebhardt on June 9th, 2019

Volume 3 Number 1 2019

This issue of Riffs emerged out of a partnership with Ideas of Noise festival in Birmingham and a writing event that Sarah Raine, Craig Hamilton and I organised with the festival in August 2018: Writing with Noise. Some of the contributions were born at this event, others were inspired by the call that followed. The issue brings together music writers and academics, artists and musicians from the UK, Germany, Poland and New Zealand. Here’s a sample from my editorial:

“Writing with noise starts with a message, dialogue, some advice, observations about how to get things done, a lists of items we can’t forget, a program of sorts, pens, camera, paper, running order, catering booked, participant list, looking for the venue, seating set out for thirty people, some of them on couches already, waiting, a welcome and…off we go. Listen carefully to what she says. Writing with noise is an art, useful for getting along with others, for keeping on the move when you can’t think of where to go, of travelling light and trying things out and on. Low-fi dreaming. Over 1 minute, repeated eight times, we find a rhythm of scrawling that fits with what we want to say and how. And how? This is the challenge; always, with this exercise, anyway. Stop start. Stop. Start. Hands tired, out of ink, stupid pen, stop. Start. Running out and over with images of sounds, trying to get at what the clear lines coming out of her instrument felt like, what we heard. It’s hard to settle on adjectives; much easier with verbs. So many quickly alight on the page: sounding, tracking, scurrying, sloping, slipping, slouching, and so on. Face to face with another person, your partner in crime for this exercise anyway, brings new connections, search for a common tongue, a quick relay between vowels and groans and laughter. Then we drift apart. All too soon and it’s over.”