Alva Noto: The Cosmonaut Of Sound

30.04.2019 | By PAOLO BOCCHI

Real name: Carsten Nicolai. Better known with the stage name of Alva Noto.

A scientist of sound, not just an EDM deejay. His music research stretches from Pitagora ’s ancient Greece to the Guggenheim museum in New York.


Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da Sebastian Mayer (@sm_sebastianmayer) in data:

Alva Noto gave an image to sound. And not the other way round, as it’s now the norm.

From D360's Closet

Because Alva Noto doesn’t have much to do with “norm”, convention nor custom.

Alva Noto is a peculiar figure: multifaceted, complex, unattainable.

Noto is elusive.

Especially if you consider him as a part of today’s EDM world, that mostly comes as a combination of deejays/starlets/flash drives .

Alva Noto is a “non-character character”; a one-of-a-kind presence.

Not just a deejay.

Not just a musician.

Not just a producer.


Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da NOTON (@notoninfo) in data:

Alva Noto is “beyond”: a bit like Sir Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner; like a Roy Batty that looks into infinity as he whispers his heartfelt, legendary monologue: “…and all those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain…”.

Alva Noto is absolutely atypical; what’s great about him is his constant tiptoeing on the fine line that separates “groove” and “experimental”. A fragile balance; thus pretty intriguing. And riveting.


Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da Contemporary Art Only (@the_best_contemporary_art) in data:

While performing on stage in front of a crowd, Alva Noto often looks like a mathematical genius, completely absorbed in the research of a hyper-complicated, almost unattainable and still unknown formula for the salvation of humankind.

Alva Noto is a scientist-musician; someone who “draws” music, portraying it in real time while playing it, live.

His research is constantly evolving in a never-ending development.

And it stems from the illustrious studies of other giants of science history; the likes of Pythagoras (mathematician), Galileo Galilei (physicist-philosopher-astronomer), Ernst Chladni (physicist), Hans Jenny (physician), Rudolf Steiner (scientist) and James Gleick (author of the essay “Chaos: making a new science”).


Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da Karen O’Neill (@_kostudio_) in data:

Such pursuit belongs to the field of of “Cymatics”, from the Greek “kymatica”, meaning “the study of waves” (“kyma” = wave). Basically, this is what it’s about: think of a flat surface, like a slab or a membrane; now imagine sprinkling its surface with some kind of powder, like sand or flour, then throw in music i.e. sound vibrations: the powder will start shaking and jumping around, forming grid-like shapes that become marvelous geometric patterns, each lasting for a tiny, small moment, as they turn into one another.

Such designs, generated by the vibrations emitted by sound – musical or non-musical – take shapes that remind a lot of Tibetan mandalas (and, like them, only last for a very limited time): hence the parallels with Zen, with breathing, with the concentric patterns of the ancestral Sanskrit chant/syllable “OHM”; hence, also, the reference to Pythagoras’ statement that sums up the whole universe in a concept, utterly simply and complexly at the same time: “There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres”.


Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da Synth (@synthnapoli) in data:

In other words, Geometry is music in solid form; apparently, the best definition of Alva Noto’s music was given a long time ago by Pythagoras.

That concludes this glimpse into the music quest of artist-musician-deejay-scientist Alva Noto.

Attending one of his shows is like going on a trip to Ancient Greece; stepping into a cave and listening to the sounds sea waves, the screaming of seagulls, the wind rustling through the trees, then trying to give them a visual appearance; a stylized, temporary portait, as ephemeral as a wave crashing against a cliff. And here it comes: a brief moment in which religion, Physics, New Age, fractions, abstract art, music, noise aesthetic and the whole universe come together, giving its spectators the emotion of grasping, for a second, the immense infinite nature of the cosmos.

Carsten Nicolai, also known as Alva Noto: a cosmonaut of sound.


Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da Ocula ( in data: