Noise and Glitch

People normally divide sounds into noise (unwanted sound) and music. But, noise music takes these rejected sounds and makes deliberate use of them.

Where Did This Come From?

In 1913, Luigi Russolo wrote his ‘Art of Noises’ arguing that:

“We must break out of this narrow circle of pure musical sounds, and conquer the infinite variety of noise sounds.”

He wanted composers to be able to use all sounds, and to recognise that all sounds can be beautiful (even noisy ones).

The world around us gets nosier and nosier with more cars, more aeroplanes, more machinery, more technology; so, the need for a music that reflects and explores this world grows.

See also: New Ideas in Sound.

What Does Noise Music Involve?

Noise sounds are rebellious, dramatic and full of impact. Embracing noise sounds allows composers to express themselves with great energy and in great freedom.

Noise music challenges the distinction between musical and non-musical sound. It demands that noise sounds (the most unpopular and unwanted type of sound) be embraced as valid, interesting and beautiful.

Noise music is sometimes very LOUD, but can also be quiet and gentle.

Composition Tools

Noise music often makes use of:

Who Makes Noise Music?

Below are a few people (or groups) who make noise music:


Merzbow is a Japanese noise artist who has released over 350 recordings. He uses distortion, feedback to develop sounds that originally come from machinery, synthesisers and homemade noise instruments. His music is deliberately LOUD and harsh.

Merzbow and the Dirty Electronics Ensemble

This is a recording of a performance made by the Japanese noise artist, Merzbow and the Dirty Electronics Ensemble. The musicians are using feedback, hiss and crackling noises to create a very rich and dense texture.


Dushume is a thriving experimental noise artist/musician from Leicester, with interests in fusing Asian underground sounds with Electroacoustic Music.

He enjoys the physicality of working with noise, both through how it sounds and the direct way in which he can connect with the sounds. He uses layering and splicing to edit live improvisations into composition works.

Find out more in the Composer Case Study – Dushume