I know many of my followers are fans of drone and noise music, and the quote up there in the title is undoubtedly a familiar phrase. It graces the sad, barren plains of meaningful discourse that are Youtube comment pages, and may even pop up on Tumblr now and then. Maybe it’s something you’ve even heard from someone in person, perhaps after a misguided attempt to introduce them to something new.
I’ve always found these comments interesting, mostly due to the ferocity with which they’re delivered. People get angry at even the concept of a band like Sunn O))), or even the least abrasive material of an artist like Merzbow. The fact that it does not fit their definition of music almost seems like a personal insult. This is usually attached with comments such as “This takes no talent”, or “I could do this.”
So, what do we know so far? Seemingly, for something to be “music” it must be difficult and to a skill level higher than the listener can accurately replicate. Does this seem correct to you? It doesn’t to me. Theoretically, one could get a few pedals together, learn a few chords, and record something that sounds essentially similar to a record like Earth 2: Special Low Frequency Version. But that doesn’t remove (or add, for that matter) any validity to Earth’s status as music.
Secondly, I think many people’s understanding of the purpose of drone and noise music is flawed. Now, this is purely my opinion on the matter, and part of the beauty of music is that we can all take different things from it. That being said, it’s always been my understanding and experience that all music is there to provide an experience. It’s that simple. Records are self-contained experiences that we undertake. Drone and noise music in particular simply rely on that experience more than perhaps any other genres due to their minimalistic style. You’ll hear the same thing from anyone that attends a Sunn O))) concert, for example. It’s never about their musical ability, never the notes being played. It’s about the loudness, the vibrations that threaten to tear your body apart atom by atom, and the unique feelings provided by a music genre that is stripped down to it’s barest essentials and free to cultivate a mood and experience.
Finally, I feel it must be humored that perhaps these genres aren’t music. I know some noise musicians do not consider their art to be music, and sometimes when listening to such artists as Vomir who specialize in wall noise, I can sympathize. Even if it isn’t music, who cares? It does not make it any less of an artistic expression, no matter the medium. Consistently dismissing the talent of something you dislike does not make it absolute.
Music is subjective. Art is subjective. I know I’m preaching to the choir with the followers I have, but it’s something that’s always bothered me.