Noise vs Music

BY: CLAIRE KIM

(Contributor: Ishaani Narwanker)

Who can really say that one genre of music is much better than others? What’s to say that some genres resemble a series of noises rather than a well-orchestrated combination of sounds? In fact, who can really say that the sound of a Hydro Flask dropping on the floor isn’t music in its own right? Whether or not those sounds appeal to you is a different story altogether as the line dividing music and noise is actually much thinner than you may think.

Music is art in the form of sound. It often brings about emotions of reassurance and tranquility in those who listen to the song that is being played. Pleasing to the ear, it is no wonder music has such soothing effects on listeners as notes are carefully arranged with the intent of creating distinct melodies. From a more technical lense, music is ordered sound with component frequencies that are discrete with one dominant frequency. This dominant frequency allows music patterns to stay consistent and pure, unlike the probability frequency that can be seen in sharp pitch noises.

What also makes music so harmonious a sound is the precise arrangement of the frequency components––repeating sine waves that have perfect distances between the peaks of the highest frequency. This nature ensures that music maintains a harmonic relationship of high and low notes to form a particular melody that can be enjoyed audibly. Noise, on the other hand, maintains no consistent pattern, usually having scattered peaks of lows and highs in random order. Because of these unorganized notes, listeners suffer sharp shrieks of sound which evoke unpleasant emotions upon listening to them.

(This was a past article I wrote (with Ishaani Narwanker) for my school newspaper a couple months ago, I hope you enjoy!

Elert, Glenn. “Music & Noise – The Physics Hypertextbook.” The Physics Hypertextbook, physics.info/music/.

“3.1.3 Music vs. Noise.” Digital Sound & Music, 11 Apr. 2019, digitalsoundandmusic.com/3-1-3-music-vs-noise/.

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