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This chapter explores the characterization of certain types or instances of sound as noise and in particular the distinction within the musical domain between supposedly inherently musical sounds and noisy ones. Western musical theory and practice have privileged tonic sounds, that is, those with precise pitch, and have overlooked or diminished the relevance of complex sounds, that is, those with nonperiodic frequency structures or variable pitch. Linguistic and cultural conventions further guide how we hear sounds as either noisy or noble. Acknowledging the constructive and constraining effect of language on aural perception can make us more open listeners and allow...

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