Live At Guitar Center: A Lot Of Noise And A Little Fun New York musician Noah Wall surreptitiously recorded amateurs fiddling with guitars, pianos, keyboards, drums and more at a Guitar Center. He captured a lot of bad music and some wild ambition.

Live At Guitar Center: A Lot Of Noise And A Little Fun

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Noah Wall is an experimental musician in New York. His latest album is maybe his boldest experiment yet.

NOAH WALL: I usually make very meticulously-crafted music, and I think that's important because this project is so different from that.


MARTIN: It's a recording of anonymous musicians - newbies and old-timers. He found them all at the music equipment store Guitar Center. They're testing out guitars, keyboards and synthesizers. They have no idea they're being recorded.

WALL: It's a challenging listen.

MARTIN: Noah Wall says the album, called "Live At Guitar Center" was easy to produce. He wore tiny microphones that fit inside his ears like headphones. Then he walked inside the Guitar Center at Center Union Square in New York.

WALL: I would grab a guitar chords for beginners book and kind of hold it under my arm just to appear unthreatening.


MARTIN: Noah Wall will tell you up front, this album is basically unlistenable. But buried in the cacophony, he found things he hadn't expected, things that reminded him of his teenage self.

WALL: Like newcomers coming and, like, you know, they're, like, carefully picking the guitar off the wall and then, like, maybe whispering if they're with someone. And it's all - you know, they've got these hopes and dreams kind of in their eyes.

MARTIN: And he learned there is a certain etiquette to a crowded Guitar Center.

WALL: I think in Guitar Center, there are some unspoken rules. I think there are rules about, like, you know, taking a turn on an instrument if it's crowded. But, I mean, definitely, there's some kind of pecking order going on too. I think there's a lot of ego in there.

MARTIN: Like at one point in the keyboard room, we hear two musicians - one is clearly better than the other.


MARTIN: But a moment later, perhaps in a gesture of kindness, the good keyboardist backs off.

WALL: I think another unspoken rule is if you are really good you have to kind of, you know, pump the brakes a little bit on showing off.


WALL: It kind of reminds me also of a watering hole where all these different animals go from different levels of the food chain. And while they're there, they suspend trying to eat each other. Like, someone with incredible technical skill playing right next to someone who's probably, you know, never touched a keyboard in their life. That's kind of beautiful.

MARTIN: It is, kind of.


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