The idea of noise is fundamental to the sound of many vibrating systems, and it is useful in describing the spectra of vocal sibilants as well. Just as white light is the combination of all the colours of the rainbow, so white noise can be defined as a combination of equally intense sound waves at all frequencies of the audio spectrum. A characteristic of noise is that it has no periodicity, and so it creates no recognizable musical pitch or tone quality, sounding rather like the static that is heard between stations of an FM radio.

The audio frequency range encompasses nearly nine octaves. Over most of this range, the minimum change in the frequency of a sinusoidal tone that can be detected by the ear, called the frequency just noticeable difference, is about 0.5 percent of the frequency of the tone, or about one-tenth of a musical half-step. The ear is less sensitive near the upper and lower ends of the audible spectrum, so that the just noticeable difference becomes somewhat larger.

The ear actually functions as a type of Fourier analysis device, with the mechanism of the inner ear converting mechanical waves into electrical impulses that describe the intensity of the sound as a function of frequency. Ohm’s law of hearing is a statement of the fact that the perception of the tone of a sound is a function of the amplitudes of the harmonics and not of the phase relationships between them. This is consistent with the place theory of hearing, which correlates the observed pitch with the position along the basilar membrane of the inner ear that is stimulated by the corresponding frequency.

DeLillo’s flair with language paints a picture of a strange world, where the holy trinity – ‘Mastercard, Visa, American Express’ – distracts from our mortality

Don DeLillo is a writer in love with words. He’s often spoken about the almost physical pleasure he takes in putting black on white, in banging out syllables on his noisy old typewriter, of watching sentences take shape in front of him. He delights in the ebb and flow of language, in riding a lulling rhythm and also in disrupting that rhythm. The sudden shorter sentence. He also just seems to enjoy words for their own sake. Their quiddity; you get the impression that he revels in the fact that if he writes “shoe”, you’ll immediately think of the thing you wear on your foot. He loves to itemise, to catalogue, to amplify.

In White Noise, he does so to fine effect. This novel bursts with language. Most obviously, the early chapters are full of long, exuberant lists. There’s a typically fine example on the very first page:

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The idea of noise is fundamental to the sound of many vibrating systems, and it is useful in describing the spectra of vocal sibilants as well. Just as white light is the combination of all the colours of the rainbow, so white noise can be defined as a combination of equally intense sound waves at all frequencies of the audio spectrum. A characteristic of noise is that it has no periodicity, and so it creates no recognizable musical pitch or tone quality, sounding rather like the static that is heard between stations of an FM radio.

The audio frequency range encompasses nearly nine octaves. Over most of this range, the minimum change in the frequency of a sinusoidal tone that can be detected by the ear, called the frequency just noticeable difference, is about 0.5 percent of the frequency of the tone, or about one-tenth of a musical half-step. The ear is less sensitive near the upper and lower ends of the audible spectrum, so that the just noticeable difference becomes somewhat larger.

The ear actually functions as a type of Fourier analysis device, with the mechanism of the inner ear converting mechanical waves into electrical impulses that describe the intensity of the sound as a function of frequency. Ohm’s law of hearing is a statement of the fact that the perception of the tone of a sound is a function of the amplitudes of the harmonics and not of the phase relationships between them. This is consistent with the place theory of hearing, which correlates the observed pitch with the position along the basilar membrane of the inner ear that is stimulated by the corresponding frequency.

The idea of noise is fundamental to the sound of many vibrating systems, and it is useful in describing the spectra of vocal sibilants as well. Just as white light is the combination of all the colours of the rainbow, so white noise can be defined as a combination of equally intense sound waves at all frequencies of the audio spectrum. A characteristic of noise is that it has no periodicity, and so it creates no recognizable musical pitch or tone quality, sounding rather like the static that is heard between stations of an FM radio.

The audio frequency range encompasses nearly nine octaves. Over most of this range, the minimum change in the frequency of a sinusoidal tone that can be detected by the ear, called the frequency just noticeable difference, is about 0.5 percent of the frequency of the tone, or about one-tenth of a musical half-step. The ear is less sensitive near the upper and lower ends of the audible spectrum, so that the just noticeable difference becomes somewhat larger.

The ear actually functions as a type of Fourier analysis device, with the mechanism of the inner ear converting mechanical waves into electrical impulses that describe the intensity of the sound as a function of frequency. Ohm’s law of hearing is a statement of the fact that the perception of the tone of a sound is a function of the amplitudes of the harmonics and not of the phase relationships between them. This is consistent with the place theory of hearing, which correlates the observed pitch with the position along the basilar membrane of the inner ear that is stimulated by the corresponding frequency.

DeLillo’s flair with language paints a picture of a strange world, where the holy trinity – ‘Mastercard, Visa, American Express’ – distracts from our mortality

Don DeLillo is a writer in love with words. He’s often spoken about the almost physical pleasure he takes in putting black on white, in banging out syllables on his noisy old typewriter, of watching sentences take shape in front of him. He delights in the ebb and flow of language, in riding a lulling rhythm and also in disrupting that rhythm. The sudden shorter sentence. He also just seems to enjoy words for their own sake. Their quiddity; you get the impression that he revels in the fact that if he writes “shoe”, you’ll immediately think of the thing you wear on your foot. He loves to itemise, to catalogue, to amplify.

In White Noise, he does so to fine effect. This novel bursts with language. Most obviously, the early chapters are full of long, exuberant lists. There’s a typically fine example on the very first page:

White noise - Wikipedia


White Noise (novel) - Wikipedia

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