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Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

The Provenance of White Noise

Listening to the rain and not listening thanks to the rain

Functional music comes in many forms, from alerts to background scores. Some functional music is constructed with functional intent, and some — well, some suggests a purpose for itself after the fact. White noise is a useful tool because its sonic properties allow it, at even a low volume, to seemingly cancel out other sounds. For many people looking to concentrate, listening to white noise can be a handy thing. But not all white noise is created equal. You might find one too gritty, or your ears might locate a whine in another, or too quick a rhythm might give you the sonic equivalent of motion sickness. Most white noise machines use digitally produced sound, but nature provides its own near equivalent — for example, the sound of rain on a roof, such as this track recorded at Southern Cross Station in Melbourne, Australia (pictured above). The benefit of a track such as this is that in addition to providing the standard hush effect of white noise, it has provenance, the underlying knowledge not only that this is rain, but that the sound was collected at an architectural landmark. It’s the white noise equivalent of imported glacier water.

The track was originally posted for free download at by Barnaby Oliver, who’s based in Melbourne, Australia.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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