Right to Quiet Society Noiseletter
Spring 2013, page 6

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Burst metal-concert: destruction yes, but please don’t wreck anything

London/Hamburg - Sound can be a weapon. That is what the metal band Napalm Death wanted to prove in a London museum, by destroying a sculpture with a high-volume performance. However, for fear of wider damage, the concert was cancelled.

Is it art to destroy art with art? Obviously, it is only then when it is controllable. For fear of the destructive force of music in the truest sense of the word, the London Victoria and Albert Museum cancelled a concert by the extreme-metal-band Napalm Death. The British group that was once furthered by the legendary BBC-moderator John Peel, was scheduled to play as part of a project with the artist Keith Harrison in the venerable halls of the museum and destroy a sculpture with the high volume of their music.

The piece of art in question wasn’t just any piece of art. The clay sculpture released by Harrison for the musical destruction - it bears the title “Moon” - is a replica

of the percussion instrument of The-Who-drummer Keith Moon. Now, the responsible people of the museum are concerned that the decibels could also damage the historic substance of the building, as the museum informed. The decision is regrettable it said on the website of the organisers.

According to statements the concert was to take place in the Europa Galleries, presently under renovation. An additional safety investigation supposedly triggered the concern about the destruction of the historic substance. Although the museum wants to organise “exiting events”, the “safety of our guests and the building always have priority.” Napalm Death could not be reached for a comment. Singer Mark “Barney” Greenway said the band enjoys to experiment with the concept “sound as a weapon”.

Spiegel Online, March 20, 2013, bos/AFP

Distracting beeps

If you can’t concentrate during the irritating sound of a truck backing up, blame the brain baffle on an evolutionary glitch. Natural sounds are created from a transfer of energy (say, a stick hitting a drum) and gradually dissipate, and our perceptual system has evolved to use that decay of sound to figure out what made it and where it came from. But beeps don’t typically change or fade away over time, so our brains have trouble keeping up.

Readers’ Digest

Wise contemplation

The following short article appeared right inside the front cover of the April 1981 "Reader's Digest" under its excellent "Points to Ponder" compendium. Yes, over 31 years ago...way back then, noise pollution was and is a worsening scourge. Article text, submitted by John M., follows:

By John Hillaby, Journey Through Love

"A wise American has said that noise is the ultimate insult. It belittles us. It gives us nothing at which to strike back. It kills what is left of many things that we have loved: music, beauty, friendship, hope, and excitement, and the reassurance of nature. Traditionally, noise is used to ridicule, embarrass, denigrate, and curse, while silence is used for worship, respect, anticipation, and love. Do we hate each other as much as our noise level suggests?"

(Original source: Houghton Mifflin)


"Noise is one of the most dreadful plagues in our existence. It is an acoustic garbage, a special type of stress...It ruins culture and lets wither away even the most rudimentary prerequisites of all higher culture, from religion to art and philosophy...Everything great grows in stillness"

Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner



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