Into It: Colorful Noise

Aug 14, 2012

When we hear the word “noise,” we think annoyance and distraction. And that makes perfect sense. Noise is essentially interference, something that disrupts our experience with everything from radios and televisions to images on digital cameras. But our ears have a unique relationship with colorful noise.

The most familiar is “white noise,” which comes from an analogy between light and sound. You’ve seen a prism breaking light into a rainbow of colors. Well, if you were able to do the same thing to “white noise,” what you’d get is a display of frequencies from across the audible spectrum.

Okay, so it isn’t on par with a rainbow of colors, but other more pleasant shades of noise exist. Just as visible light varies from red at lower energies up through yellow and blue, we can tilt this flat white noise to add emphasis to sets of frequencies. If we accentuate the low end, for instance, we get “pink noise.”

Reminiscent of the low rumble you’d hear seated over the wing of a plane, it’s fairly pleasant. Of course, we can tilt the other way, toward the hissing high end of “blue noise.”

Perhaps the most enjoyable drone comes from brown. Not far from the sounds of waves washing up on a beach, many people swear by its ability to help with both sleep and studying. In fact, websites exist that do nothing but produce these colored noises for anyone willing to listen. Keep an ear out for these colors, and you’ll begin to hear them everywhere.

Music: “De cercle en cercle, ressasser et se perdre dans l’illusion née de la production de distractions et multiplier la statique environnante!” by Fly Pan Am from Sédatif en fréquences et sillons

(repeat broadcast from 2/28/12)