John Cage’s 4’33’’ could be seen as a kind of footnote to the Indian concept of anaahata naad – the primordial silence that must be struck to bring forth music. In playing, this silence is represented by the (unstruck) sound of the tanpura, whose extended bridge detunes the strings as they vibrate, generating a continuous harmonic flux.
White noise also makes a passable impression of silence. In 2010, Ryoji Ikeda played test pattern live at Siobhan Davies Studio in London. As the warm up music faded, a hush descended over the intimate crowd, and then a rising wash of white noise that too faded away as Ikeda arrived on stage. The source? the opening and disposal of a couple of hundred plastic wrappers containing earplugs.
Sometimes the most pertinent information is to be found in footnotes, or in noise.