Her Noise Archive is a resource of collected materials investigating music and sound histories in relation to gender bringing together a wide network of women artists who use sound as a medium. Whilst it exists as a physical archive, key elements of the original project, including video interviews with a number of artists and musicians, are available on this site, as well as documentation of more recent events, guest ‘curations’ and other responses. lt is the hope that this project will continue to develop, grow and inspire other enquiries. Read more about the history of the project here.
What, in the historical present, might constitute an activist life in sound?
The 2nd Sound::Gender::Feminism::Activism post-graduate research event seeks to query the place and performance of activism within discourses and practices of sound arts, sound-based arts and experimental musics that are engaged with gender, feminist and queer politics.
‘We are part of an American tradition that was arcane 40 years ago: the non-virtuoso artist, the artist that should not have been, birthed of suburbs and average intelligence. Hitting the subconscious by accident, communicating out of a sweaty desperate want. Magik Markers have always been that. Basement, mouth-breathing, know-nothing nobodies itching to get at something they don’t understand.’
I recently came across this quote by Elisa Ambrogio, of Magik Markers, in The Wire (November 2013, 357, p16). When I first met Fatima Hellberg of Electra who introduced me to Her Noise, and again later when approached to be a guest curator, I felt exactly like a ‘know-nothing nobody itching to get at something I didn’t understand’. This instinctive reaction to my own set of knowledges and awareness of lack of knowledge; my own specialisms and conversely my propensity towards generalism in my magpie-ing artistic practice, sets the tone for this blog.
Taking the form of moving image work and rarely shown archival material, Slow Runner: Her Noise Archive II brings together new and existing content from the Her Noise Archive, circling, referencing, and extending links to Pauline Boudry/Renate Lorenz’s new film To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe in Recognition of their Desperation (2013) and pioneering composer Pauline Oliveros’ eponymous 1970 score.
My visits to the Her Noise Archive helped me get an overview of discussion and research at the intersections of gender and experimental music while also hinting at numerous specific paths. Such lessons have also impacted my research practices. To use Deleuze and Guattari’s distinction, my work consists of multiplicitous mapping and potentially homogenizing but, I hope, carefully conducted tracing of American ‘free folk’ / psychedelic music scenes. This blog post connects items, performers, and labels to ideas and interview aspects explored in my theses, especially 2012’s Gender construction and American ‘Free Folk’ music(s).
I remember a moment of bass massage in Kaffe Matthews Sonic Bed in her studio in 2006 in London with Eliane Radigue, Kaffe Matthews, Ryoko Akama and me eight months pregnant with my daughter Lumi. I cherish this memory like a precious rare stone I will never throw away. Generations of dedication to sound in one bed. I have known Kaffe’s work since the 1990s and have been her friend and collaborator and I distinctively remember the moment when she was creating her concept for Music for Bodies. While digital music had been largely listened to by a specific group of nerds, code music was now massaging the bodies of the art lover in a wider sense. Continue reading →
Watching, listening, writing to the hernoise archive
Watching the video interview with Christina Kubisch on Hernoise, I am reminded again of the importance of this multi-faceted and growing archive for contemporary research in sound, gender and technology. I have read quite a bit about Kubisch in the past, but the video and its informal conversational tone gives access to her thinking and work in a new way, providing more context, letting me see and hear her reactions to questions. Continue reading →
I would like to contribute to the Her Noise Archive by introducing topics from the field of trans studies and activism on the intersections of sound art and sound engineering.
In electronic and electroacoustic music, the process of recording music or to amplify the sources coming from the stage in a concert situation is something I regard as an artistic process. Sound engineers who differ from the norm of the white cis male mixer are rare. From my own experience of working with all-female or queer bands, I have the perception that as a live sound engineer I have always been treated as a member of the band equally with the musicians on stage. Also being a musician and band member myself, I discovered and understood the mixing console and the P.A. system as a musical instrument. Live Sound engineering is often or traditionally perceived as a technical supplement, which assists the band or the orchestra but which is not rendered as a musical agent by itself. The reasons also rest on the historical position of the sound engineer who is treated as the controller of the sound rather than as the co-producer of a collective sound production. My ideas on sound engineering, especially on Live Sound are driven by my practice as a musician and engineer combined with my position of being a transgender identified person.
The Shaggs may not be one of the first examples that come to mind when thinking of notable female sound practitioners and role models for women in the sound arts. They are often not taken seriously: their music’s “ineptitude” something to marvel and laugh at – “so bad it’s good”, a joke listeners and collectors of their music are in on but the band themselves are not.
From the Her Noise Archive, I have chosen Frances Dyson’s book, Sounding New Media: Immersion and Embodiment in Arts and Culture. Though not the central focus of her book, she addresses two things that have always intrigued me about sound; that it provokes a listening experience that is ontologically profound and that it is married to space, to corporeality while not needing to adhere to realism at all. Through a discussion of this and other characteristics of New Media Art, Dyson discusses the various ways in which we experience it.
An international symposium exploring the female voice with performances, talks and live music inspired by the Her Noise Archive with Gudrun Gut, AGF, Jenny Hval, Nina Power, Cara Tolmie, Anne Karpf, Maggie Nicols, Holly Ingleton, Cathy Lane, Lina Džuverović and Catti Brandelius.
My selection from the Her Noise Archive is the interview with Else Marie Pade by Henriette Heise and Jakob Jakobsen for Free Utv in 2005. The film’s informal nature provides a charming, mostly sonic, portrait of Pade. She converses in Danish and as I am not a Danish speaker, I watch the film not in order to gain insight into her compositional methods or creative history, but for other reasons. The device of her speaking to an interviewer, but without hearing her words, only her compositions, also proves hypnotic. This adds another aspect to the film’s sound world. Items located within the domestic scene provide clues about her creative life: a piano, accessorised with a rubber and pencil sharpener; the boxes of tapes; reel-to-reel machines and what appears to be, perhaps, an oscillator. An enchanting and important film about a composer hitherto unknown to myself. Continue reading →
Choosing an artifact from the Her Noise Archive of personal significance, Nina Power has selected the LP picture disc, Can’t – New Secret, from Jessica Rylan Rrrecords in 2003 (catalogue no: HN/1/5/014). Linking with the theme of punk and extending to discussions of race, Nina has selected the text, It’s (Not) a White World: Looking for Race in Punk by Mimi Nguyen, an essay that appears in White Riot: Punk Rock and the Politics of Race, edited by Stephen Duncombe and Maxwell Tremblay for Verso Books, published in 2011 as a valuable addition to the bibliography. Pulling both these threads together, Nina has suggested the broadcaster, sonic artist, musician and researcher, Fari Bradley as someone she would like to see interviewed in the future for the Her Noise Archive. Finally, in answer to the question, “what would you like to add to the Archive“, Nina has chosen “voice recordings from machines in the public domain”, the subject of her presentation, The Dystopian Technology of the Female Voice delivered at the Her Noise: Feminisms and the Sonic symposium at Tate Modern in May 2012, a section of which she has kindly allowed us to reproduce here.
Daphne Oram, An Individual Note of Music, Sound and Electronics (Galliard Paperbacks, 1972).
At the outset of An Individual Note of Music, Sound and Electronics (1972), Daphne Oram greets her readers with this declaration: “Music, sound and electronics… each of these subjects has been well covered recently by sober academic textbooks; I am certainly not going to write another of those!” Sure enough, the roughly 150 pages that follow are animated by her whimsical sensibility and wide-ranging imagination.