Introduction to Computer Music: Volume One

4. What are the characteristics of sound waves? | page 2

Noise is characterized as being aperiodic or having a non-repetitive pattern.

There are many different types of noise, depending primarily on the random distribution of frequencies. For example, some types of noise may sound brighter than others because they statistically exhibit more energy at the higher frequencies. Click below for audio examples of several noise distributions:

Some periodic waveforms can be complex enough to be perceived as noise if our ears cannot detect perceptible pitches. Many real-world sounds, such as the "chiffy" attack of a flute note contain some combination of periodic and aperiodic components.

For further study, see Hyperphysics->Periodic Motion

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