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Sound is the vibration of matter, as perceived by the sense of hearing. Unwanted or annoying sound is often called noise.


  • 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.
  • Master: It's everywhere. Listen, listen, listen. Here come the drums. Here come the drums.
  • Music has no subject beyond the combinations of notes we hear, for music speaks not only by means of sounds, it speaks nothing but sound.
  • You know the sound of two hands clapping; tell me, what is the sound of one hand?
    • Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1769). The phrase is a Kōan, an irrational comment used in Zen Buddhism in order to assist practitioners in reaching enlightenment.
  • They say gravity is the centre of attraction ; I rather think that noise is. Nothing so soon assembles the inhabitants of a house as a loud and sudden noise:
  • 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.
  • Doctor: It plays music. What's the point of that? Oh, with music, you can dance to it, sing with it, fall in love to it. Unless you're a Dalek of course. Then it's all just noise.
    • Doctor Who Evolution of the Daleks written by Helen Raynor
  • Could we not imagine that itself nothing more than the sum of a multitude of different sounds which are being heard simultaneously?
  • 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.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 740.
  • A thousand trills and quivering sounds
    In airy circles o'er us fly,
    Till, wafted by a gentle breeze,
    They faint and languish by degrees,
    And at a distance die.
  • A noise like of a hidden brook
    In the leafy month of June,
    That to the sleeping woods all night
    Singeth a quiet tune.
  • By magic numbers and persuasive sound.
  • I hear a sound so fine there's nothing lives
    'Twixt it and silence.
  • And filled the air with barbarous dissonance.
  • Sonorous metal blowing martial sounds,
    At which the universal host up sent
    A shout that tore hell's concave, and beyond
    Frighted the reign of Chaos and old Night.
  • Their rising all at once was as the sound
    Of thunder heard remote.
  • To all proportioned terms he must dispense
    And make the sound a picture of the sense.
  • The murmur that springs
    From the growing of grass.
  • What's the business,
    That such a hideous trumpet calls to parley
    The sleepers of the house? Speak, speak!
  • Hark! from the tombs a doleful sound.
    • Isaac Watts, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Book II. Hymn 63.
  • My eyes are dim with childish tears,
    My heart is idly stirred,
    For the same sound is in my ears
    Which in those days I heard.

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