Carpenters' and ironworkers' shops are dominated by the heavier sounds of machinery and occasional yells across the floor; in goldsmiths' shops the silences are punctuated by more delicate work noises, but the apprentices' sullen silence and the artisans' grim absorption in the work at hand are, if anything, more oppressive, although there may be a little amiable banter between a master goldsmith and an older apprentice clearly already in possession of advanced technical skills.
Which is more musical, a truck passing by a factory or a truck passing by a music school?
John Cage, "Communication", the third of the Composition as a Process lectures given in Darmstadt in 1958 and published in Silence. Many of Cage's works use sounds traditionally regarded as unmusical (radios not tuned to any particular station, for instance): he really did believe that the sound of a truck and the sounds made in a factory had just as much musical worth as the sounds made in a music school. There is also a suggestion expressed in the quote that in order to determine the artistic worth of something, it is necessary to examine the context in which it exists.
A sound does not view itself as thought, as ought, as needing another sound for its elucidation, as etc.; it has not time for any consideration--it is occupied with the performance of its characteristics: before it has died away it must have made perfectly exact its frequency, its loudness, its length, its overtone structure, the precise morphology of these and of itself.
Whenever you wash dishes, cook, or clean, if you make no sound, this is smartness itself. A person who enters a house and makes a lot of noise is revealing a lack of spirituality; even cats and dogs do not make unnecessary sounds, and man as he naturally is does not make any either.
If a tree falls in a forest, and no-one is around to hear it, does it make a noise?
Source unknown, but apparently originating in the twentieth century; a 1910 physics book asks "When a tree falls in a lonely forest, and no animal is near by to hear it, does it make a sound? Why?" Charles Riborg Mann, George Ransom Twiss, Physics (1910), p. 235. See also: If a tree falls in a forest.
Now I will do nothing but listen, To accrue what I hear into this song, to let sounds contribute toward it.
I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat, gossip of flames, clack of sticks cooking my meals, I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human voice, I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or following, Sounds of the city and sounds out of the city, sounds of the day and night, Talkative young ones to those that like them, the loud laugh of work-people at their meals, The angry base of disjointed friendship, the faint tones of the sick, The judge with hands tight to the desk, his pallid lips pronouncing a death-sentence, The heave'e'yo of stevedores unlading ships by the wharves, the refrain of the anchor-lifters, The ring of alarm-bells, the cry of fire, the whirr of swift-streaking engines and hose-carts with premonitory tinkles and color'd lights, The steam-whistle, the solid roll of the train of approaching cars, The slow march play'd at the head of the association marching two and two, (They go to guard some corpse, the flag-tops are draped with black muslin.)
I hear the violoncello, ('tis the young man's heart's complaint,) I hear the key'd cornet, it glides quickly in through my ears, It shakes mad-sweet pangs through my belly and breast.
I hear the chorus, it is a grand opera, Ah this indeed is music--this suits me.”