David Bowie – Black Noise?

David Bowie is caught off-guard in this interview where Dick Cavett asks about black noise.

david bowie black noise

David Bowie never got to bear witness to the mysterious power of infrasound – a sound frequency that lies just below what humans are capable of hearing, around 19Hz. This was perhaps his most hazardous sonic experience left unexplored; in the early 1970s, he became spellbound by its hidden potency and coined it “black noise.” On average our ears can detect an auditory range between 20-20,000Hz – but infrasound lives on another level altogether.

In an interview with Dick Cavett, David Bowie explained the meaning behind “black noise”: “William S. Burroughs has been exploring something called black noise. It is a resonant frequency that can fracture any object or group of people if it reaches the right pitch – like when opera singers hit high notes and break the glass. This makes ‘black noise’ somewhat similar to a controlled bomb, specifically one composed of sound.”

Cobain has also spoken with Burroughs About Black Noise

cobain burroughs

Amidst the Cold War, it was unnerving to think that a single invisible bomb could annihilate an entire metropolis. Let us not forget about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that occurred only within people’s living memory, and then 10 years later in 1962, there was even more cause for worry due to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Dick Cavett was astounded when Bowie introduced the concept of infrasonic warfare and quickly questioned if a “tyrant” could use it to eliminate his rivals. Rather than pacifying Cavett’s Cold War apprehensions, Bowie elucidated that until recently one could purchase the patent for this technology in France’s patent office for only three or four dollars!

Aghast, Cavett proceeded to ask Bowie whether a bomb had the capacity of wiping out an urban center as large as Los Angeles. To which he responded in response, “It all depends on how many resources you are willing to invest. A small one could annihilate half of the population here; however, if enough resources were put into it – then yes, such a weapon would have the power to obliterate a city- or worse.”

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