Perhaps we can curb this issue, and save ourselves from having to answer the same damned questions all the time by having a single thread in which to deal with these matters.
That being said, admin, sticky plz.
Anyhow, here's some of the contents from a thread called "A guide to Noise/Experimental Music for the Creatively Stupid"
that was posted on another forum, as written by Ben Bonanza, and myself:
In the last few months I have started to see an increasing number of threads about noise and experimental music on this forum and a number of other music forums I frequent. The ever-decreasing cost of computers, audio editing software, and even traditional music equipment has made these forms accessible to more people with less investment. While in and of itself that is neither good nor bad, I have quite a number of things I want to say, in no particular order:
1. Most experiments are failures. In every other field of endeavor, the first dozen/hundred/thousand/ten thousand experiments crash and burn before the product comes out like it should. In "experimental" music, a large number of the artists involved seem to record their first or second effort and put it on the internet for the world to see. If the first recording sucks, nobody will EVER listen to the later recordings, even if they are really good. Take the time to make something good before you share it.
2. Everybody has already done what you just did. Noise has existed in something close to its current form for 30+ years. Experimental music in the broader sense, especially based on guitars, has been around longer. People who are better than you have already had your idea and pulled it off with much more aplomb. This ties in with my first point: don't just say "what happens when I hold something electrical near my guitar pickups?" and then assume you have split the atom. REALLY CREATE.
3. Don't work exclusively on computers, unless you want nobody to take you seriously. Computers are fantastic tools for editing your work, producing new sounds, and doing lots of other amazing stuff. However, computers still can't do everything, and most of all they tend to be awkward and ineffective in live performance settings. If you have never worked with real equipment or played a real show, it will be apparent in the kind of music you make. If you somehow make something good on a computer despite your lack of grounding, you are going to look like a colossal asshole when you get asked to play a show and then have to say "Umm....I can't play shows."
4. Be deliberate about what you are doing. Computer audio editing programs have lots of effects. Mixers, effects pedals, and instruments have lots of knobs. Be aware of what you are doing when you manipulate this vast array of options. If you PRESS BUTAN all the time, your music will sound very bad. Learn from your failed experiments in button-pressing and knob-twisting.
5. Remember, you are still making music. Noise and experimental music can be very free-form, and annihilate the barriers and conventions of traditional music. That doesn't mean you should simply hold your guitar into an amplifier for an hour and call if music. And if you do, Lou Reed will have done it already, and will have done it better. Your music still needs a structure and purpose. Dynamics and variation are good. I will repeat that again. DYNAMICS AND VARIATION ARE GOOD. Whatever your first effort was, it did not have enough dynamics, variation, or balance, do it again at least twice.
6. Make an investment. Yes, you can download an amazing free program with lots of cool effects. Keep in mind that you usually get what you pay for, just as with anything else in life. The more time and money you put into your music, the better it will be. If you want to save money, learn to build things yourself, find good deals, and beg, borrow, or steal whatever you need to accomplish what you need to accomplish. But don't assume that a 20-watt combo amp is going to do the same thing as a 600-watt power amp, or that the effect that came with your free audio program is the same as having a real pedal.
7. Develop a social network. If you exist in a vacuum, you will never have any idea if what you are doing or where you are going. Meet other people who are interested in the same kinds of music. Go to shows, and if they don't happen in your area, put them on yourself. When you record something, solicit criticism from people who know what they are talking about. This does not mean the Musician's Lounge. ML is good for a lot of things, but intelligently deconstructing a piece of noise isn't one of them. Get off your ass and make some friends. Without a social network, you will go NOWHERE. With an awesome social network, you will probably succeed even if you suck.
8. Consider what the fuck you are trying to accomplish. There are a lot of things you can do with out of the way styles of music. Some of it is just for the fun of it, and if that's the case a lot of the above advice isn't that important. Maybe you want to record something and have it released. Maybe you want to play shows or tour. Whatever it is, you need to figure it out and try to behave accordingly. If you are trying to tour, then recording something on your computer and putting it on myspace probably isn't the best way to go. If you are just trying to have fun, don't worry too much if everybody hates you.
9. Nobody owes you a damned thing. Everybody hates noise and "out there" music. It's true. Even the very best music from the margins is still marginal. You will certainly not be the best, and nobody is going to pay any attention to you. Any success you have will be the result of a ridiculous amount of hard work. Nobody is going to give you ANYTHING. Be prepared for soul-crushing amounts of apathy on the part of the rest of the world. That doesn't mean that what you're doing isn't worthwhile, it just means that you need to ask yourself who you're doing it for, and rethink what you're trying to accomplish and whether it's realistic.
10. You must find your own way. I don't mean this in some sort of mystical, Eastern sense. I mean nobody can tell you what equipment to buy, what to sound like, or anything else about what specifically you need to do. A significant number of threads ask for advice on what sort of equipment is requisite for experimental music. The answer is: whatever equipment turns out to be useful. The only real answer is that you should probably get a compact mixer. Beyond that, you are on your own. Your style, your equipment, your friends, your everything have to be your own, and you'll probably fail to accomplish the big dreams you have in your head unless you are lucky and incredibly persistent.
and my words:
One of the most aggravating things that I see when it comes to people who are new to noise, electronic, and experimental music are "Hay guys, how do I make (insert genre here)?" threads (and no, this problem isn't limited to these forums).
The rule of thumb here is: If you don't have any clue whatsoever on how the hell a genre of music is made, then you aren't ready to make it.
If you truly want to start making a certain style of music, then it's probably a damned good idea to do a little bit of research yourself. Pick up interviews of bands you like in that style. Look at the liner notes. GOOGLE GODDAMNIT!
There's absolutely nothing wrong with making your noise, or other weird assed music via computer (But do it in private, and be sure to wash your hands afterwards). There are plenty of well respected experimental musicians/noisicians who make excellent albums with nothing but software. However, there are plenty of knuckleheaded scene queens who will dismiss acts simply on the premise of them using computers (I know it's retarded, but that's life).
Some of the general problems that plague the computer scene are as follows:
1: The compositions sound way too thin - This is usually the first telltale sign that you aren't using gear. Digital noise by and large tends to lack the bass punch, warmth, and thickness of pedal based noise. A great deal of VST, and directX effects are horrible about turning your sounds into wafer thin slices of audio, but there are ways around this issue.
Waves Maxxbass is the best thing I've come across for giving your sounds thick, deep bass. However, that won't fix the thin sound of all the other frequencies.
To get around that problem you should do things like playing with the EQ, and layer the sound a bit with slightly altered versions of itself.
2: Control issues - Simply put, you will not be able to control all the factors of the sound like you could using gear. Sure, you can use an assignable knob based midi controller of some sort to address the issue, but that only controls so much due to software design.
3: Live shows - People go to shows to watch bands perform, and having to watch someone click click clicking on a laptop tends to be as enjoyable as watching someone typing up a report.
Using pedals and such:
The wonderful wacky realm of full realtime control over your sounds. Anything can happen. Literally. Some sounds and effects can only be created when your effects are chained in a certain order, and using very specific settings, and you might accidentally stumble on an unexpected sound that clashes with your set if you aren't careful.
This is why you need to get to know the way your setup works as intimately as possible. Practice practice practice. Experiment with all the settings, and try different setups.
Play with a wide variety of sound sources. You can Make noise using traditional instruments as the sound source, use contact microphones on things like car engines and sheet metal, use nothing but pedals as the sound source, whatever. There's a whole world of sonic possibilities out there for you to try.
Some of the issues that plague gear based noise are as follows:
1: Finances - This is probably the worst problem in regards to this method. Pedal based noise is quite possibly the single most expensive type of music you'll ever make, as well as your worst financial move ever. Break a pedal, and you'll break your heart. Let's face it, the majority of noisicians are big on ideas, not on cash, and there's no money to be made off noise. If you're going to do it, you'd best be doing it for the love of noise.
If for some reason you don't believe me, go talk to any of the big names in the noise scene. I'm sure they'll be able to supply you with enough horror stories concerning touring, and selling albums to knock your ass conscious.
2: Help me, Mr. Wizard! I'm drowning in cables - If there's one thing any noisician has more than pedals, it's a metric fuckton of patch cables, and power supply cords. Once you start using bigger setups, it gets to be a real fucking confusing mess. It's at these times that having a patch cable die on you (and it WILL happen) that you'll truly begin to experience the "joys" of having all this crap. It can sometimes take a while to trace back to the faulty cable, and it can get to be a real big headache.
You can cut down on the cable mess by using batteries to power your pedals, but be prepared to have to constantly buy new batteries. I hate dealing with batteries, so I deal with this issue by using Godlyke powerall's. They take up very little space unlike conventional wall warts, and can power up to 20 pedals (depending on draw), work universally for u.s. and overseas use, and work with an ungodly number of pedal brands. If you hate batteries, and drowning in cables, then do yourself a favor and get a godlyke. They're only $40 if memory serves me correctly
Also, always keep an extra set of known good patch cables handy especialy when you go to do a show. I've had to save the day on several occasions for noisicians who forgot to abide by this rule.
3: Limitations - In general, what you can do to manipulate the sound is limited by the how much, and what gear you own. The more variety of effects you have, the better is the general rule. So get to know your gear as much as possible. There are ways to combat this issue as well. Feedback loops, circuit bending, and experimenting with a large variety of sound sources. More on this later.
Feedback loops, or "DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THAT GODDAMNED TSA!":
It's surprising how many people don't know about this.
All a feedback loop is, is feeding a pedal's output back into itself.
Why would you want to do this? Well, putting pedals in feedback loops more often than not makes pedals do all sorts of strange things. Distortion pedals start making synthy tones, delay pedals become pseudo distortions, phase shifters go absolutely apeshit, etc.
You can create feedback loops using mixers, homemade devices specifically for this purpose, or using Y cables. Easiest thing in the world.
What was all this about a TSA? Death By Audio makes a pedal called the Total Sonic Annihilation. All it does is put devices you feed into it into a feedback loop, and people spend ridiculous amounts of money on this thing, and all it's clones (the TSA sells for $150, btw). It's a serious waste of money on something that you can EASILY build yourself for next to nothing.
It aint just for toys, and shitty keyboards. The garbage in/garbage out law of programming applies here too. Sure that circuit bent speak and spell, furby, casio, etc makes some neat glitched and warped sounds, but in most cases, unless you feed them through a bunch of external effects, they'll still sound like shit.
You can circuit bend things such as drum machines, pedal effects, CD players, and more.
Circuit bending is one hell of a way to get more bang for your buck. You can turn your one trick pony pedal into something more versatile, and STILL be able to use it as intended. However I feel I must warn you that it's very easy to ruin your gear if you aren't careful. So if you're inexperienced at this, and you can't afford to go buy an extra copy of that piece of gear, you may not want to try this.
Electronics with Integrated Circuits (a.k.a. IC's, or "those mysterious little chips") can be dangerous territory. It's just too easy to fry IC's, and turn your precious gear into an expensive paperweight. Proceed with caution.
Rule of thumb for circuit bending: AVOID THE GODDAMNED POWER INPUT! Just take a moment to locate where the power comes into the circuit at, and don't put your test leads anywhere on it. Seriously, it's one of the quickest ways to fry components, and more often than not even if it doesn't fry any components, it generally won't do too much to weird out your sound in a useful way.
For more information on circuit bending, I suggest reading Ghazala's little guide here: http://www.anti-theory.com/soundart/circuitbend/
Try building some of your own gear:
Sure, it's a lot of work, and takes a great deal of patience. But it all becomes worth it when you make your very own effects device. Using bizarre home brewed effects can do wonders for your sound, and budget. Once you get the hang of building things from scratch, and have a good grasp on the mysterious workings of circuitry, you'll find that you can save money by building your own clones of certain pedals, instead of forking over mad $$$, or better yet you can create unique devices that nobody else has. Not only that, but the noise scene is notorious for clamoring to buy boutique gear, it's a cool way to make some extra cash.
Google up electronics guides. It will take a while, but is seriously worth it.
Okay, so I've made all these weird fucking sounds, that means I'm an experimental musician, right? WRONG. In some people's books you would be, but in the actual spirit of experimental music, you aren't at all.
Experimental music is made by doing things outside the normal bounds of music making.
Here's some examples of actual experimentation in music:
That concert that was performed by manipulating the audience's cell phone ringers (can't remember specifics, only that it happened).
Aube's manipulation of brain waves translated to audio through an electroencephelograph.
Those weird assed sound art installations where things like the motion of people walking by triggers the sounds, and shit like that.
What those people who used frequencies of things found in outer space did
There are plenty of other examples, but I'm sure this helps paint a clearer picture of what experimental music ACTUALLY is.