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Los Angeles Noisescapes: Culture and Aesthetics in the Early Twenty-First Century Experimental 'Noise' Scenes.


This dissertation examines the aesthetic values of the experimental ‘noise’ scenes in Los Angeles from 2010 to 2014 using ethnographic methods. It centers around three main venues and the practitioners and audiences associated with them: (the) Handbag Factory, Dem Passwords, and the wulf. I interviewed twenty-three practitioners, venue owners and promoters, and non-performing audience members. I found that the aesthetic goals of the practitioners tended to center on the production, discovery, and reception of new and unique sounds (timbres) that will lead to new and unique aesthetic experiences. I asked the participants a battery of over one hundred of the same questions for comparison and analysis. The data collected informed my understanding of the sonic values of the participants in the experimental ‘noise’ scenes in Los Angeles. I synthesized this information to corroborate the main theses of the dissertation: that experimental ‘noise’ prioritizes timbre over pitch, and that it is characterized by its aperiodicity and ametricality in favor of what I call entropic rhythm. A keen interest in the characteristics of sound(s), their organization, and morphology has led me to the notion that timbre is ontology—not only as the being of sound(s), but as a mode of ontological agency through listening practices. I claim that these ideologies characterize experimental ‘noise’ as an artistic idiom in the twenty-first century.

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