Listen & Do: John Luther Adams’ Strange and Sacred Noise

If you didn’t know the title of this piece, would it make a difference in how you hear it? Noise implies… what? As opposed to music? Is noise music? This piece will also be performed outdoors in a space not normally used for music at this year’s festival. Whereas John Luther Adams’ songbirdsong or Inuksuit seem to be conversations with the environment, Strange and Sacred Noise seems to pierce its surroundings, argue with it, demand attention. So a question: does this “noise” need a physical space with which to argue? If so, what is the role of the space?

Another question: the album cover for the recording of this piece shows a volcano erupting. Does the image change the way you listen to the music? Did the image force you to hear the music in a different way? Is that good or bad?


  1. William Duxler says

    There was definitely an argument between triangles and volcano. It did not seem to me that the sound of the triangles belonged in the space of the erupting volcano.