One Man’s Noise Is Another Man’s Symphony



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Passion is a wonderful thing. It is something that can be shared and appreciated… but not always understood. I learned that recently through a client who brought in an audio tape that he wanted “cleaned up” a bit.

I was not prepared for what I heard. Noise would be putting it mildly. There was percussion, but no beat. Sounds but no melody. Have you ever heard a comedy routine where a character leaves the stage and the next sound you hear is the crash of someone tripping over a garbage can? To my ear, it was kind of like that but it lasted some 20 minutes.

When the client returned to pick up his order, I got an opportunity to learn a little more about what it was I was transferring. Turns out, it was a real and rare recording of a specific musical composition. The proper term is called “twelve tones” and is also known as dodecaphony or twelve tone serialism.

Devised by Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg in 1921, the term “denotes a system of musical composition using the twelve chromatic notes of the octave on an equal basis without dependence on a key system. The technique is central to serialism and involves the transposition and inversion of a fixed sequence of pitches.” [Wikepedia]

I know, right? Silly of me not to recognize it. But while listening to my client who obviously had a passion for the mathematical precision needed to compose and perform this particular discipline, I couldn’t help but form an appreciation for something beyond my comprehension.

Researching it a bit further, I found that this musical system has been adopted by many classical and mainstream composers including Igor Stravinsky and American composer Scott Bradley, probably best known for scoring Tom & Jerry and other cartoons.

Here’s an audio sample of a twelve tones composition by Anton Webern.


It’s not what I’d call a toe tapper but I’m told there’s a musical genius behind it that my audible perceptions aren’t skilled enough to recognize. Which is why I love what I do… I am continually introduced to new disciplines, artforms, and historical facts or events of which I had no previous knowledge. And I get to hear about them from people who have developed a passion for them to the point that they want to preserve the memory of it. And that is something I can definitely understand.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.


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