The Many Colors of Noise

8 November 2023

Noise is not always bad.  In fact it can be one of the healing factors in our lives, like the rhythmic sound of rain, wind rustling through the trees, ocean’s roar, etc.  Different frequencies have been assigned a color to differentiate them from each other and the properties the demonstrate that can help or hinder us in our daily lives.



In the sense of color, white is the combination of all seven hues of the rainbow.  For noise this is similar.  You can actually hear it in the percussion of a band or the hum of an air conditioner.  It is frequently piped in at offices to help mask the sound of others in nearby cubicles.  It has been used to help with tinnitus.



This has become more popular over the past several years.  It is being used to enhance sleep because it will mask more sounds or background.  Sometimes it is also used in office spaces and those who enjoy meditation use it to help deepen their process.  It allows more focused concentration.



Lower on the frequency spectrum is brown noise.  Think of thunder, a vacuum sweeper, or the roar of river rapids.  It gets its name from Robert Brown, a 19th century Scottish botanist who studied the effects of noise.  Brown noise has been known to be helpful to those who suffer with ADHD (Attention  Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or those suffering with anxiety issues.  Sometimes people will call this red noise.



Not always as easy to detect, blue noise is more of a hiss.  However, as the volume of the noise increases, its harsh quality is more annoying.  A variant is violet or purple noise.  Tinnitus is kind of a whining sound that some people experience for a short period of time.  However, for those who have more extended periods of tinnitus, purple noise will override the issue and make the event more pleasant.



This one is more like white or pink.  Actually if you think about it on the color spectrum, if you mix those two, you will get a shade of gray.  There are very few good examples of this sound because each individual has a slightly different perspective of noise.  For those who have a more pronounced sensitivity to everyday sounds, gray noise should help.



Green noise focuses on the middle range of sounds.  It is very much like wind and water, gentle and soothing.  This can also be used to enhance sleep.



This can be very jarring.  Most people think of it as clashing.  Music that is atonal or without a clear pattern of melody is often described as cacophonous or orange.  Strangely this can also be used to help ease those with issues of depression.



Finally, we are at the end of the list.  Think of the classic Sounds of Silence and you will have an idea of black noise.  Removing most of the sounds around us is the key to some people being able to sleep.  New parents often try this technique with an infant who is sensitive to every door closing or car passing their house.


Naming the various sounds we hear or actually ignore is one of the newer fields of study that can help with chronic issues and mental health concerns.  It is gaining popularity in many uses.

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