Saturday, 29 March 2014

Ambient sounds and beneficial noise

Sound can be the bane of my existence.  All sorts of noises press my sensory processing buttons, from radios not properly tuned to the station to motorcycle exhausts.  Two different conversations happening at once - say, someone trying to talk to me while that damn radio is chattering away - seems to shut down the understanding-spoken-language part of my brain altogether.

But I do like a bit of background noise, especially when I'm writing.  Something unobtrusive yet comfortingly present, repetitive without being monotonous.  Without words, so it doesn't muddle the words I'm trying to put together myself. 

You're not here. But you can sound like you're here
So, I'm pretty stoked to have discovered Nature Sounds For Me.  It's an online tool (also available as an app, for those with touchy-swipey devices) that lets you mix your own ambient soundtrack.  You get four channels to play with, and can fill them with a mix of natural sounds: rain, thunder, fire crackling, owls hooting, crickets chirping and so on, in whatever combination you choose.  You can adjust the volume of each track - you might want loud rain or howling wind, but just the faintest owl hoot in the distance.  You can also vary the frequency of the different noises, so the owl can hoot constantly, or just every now and again.

You can also mix in man made sounds if you want, from wind chimes to firecrackers to voices and music, but I kept away from those.  My favourite mix so far is a combination of rain and thunder, occasional owls, and a background rumble of brown noise - digitally generated noise that, to me, sounds like a distant waterfall.

While this site's probably my favourite, I got quite carried away researching and testing alternatives - Aspie perseverance, yo - that I now have a whole list resources.  Some are ambient noise generators like Nature Sounds, some generate white or pink or brown noise, and some create binaural tones, which some people say are amazing but others say make them feel ill.  (They don't seem to have much effect on me either way, really.)  Some are designed to help with concentration and alertness, others with relaxation, and some are just for fun.

So, here's the deal: I've just set up a mailing list for Letters from Aspergia.  Once a month an email will come out with links to the latest and greatest from this blog, plus other interesting neurodiversity stuff from around the web.  And when you sign up, you'll get an email with links to various resources for online ambient sound and other beneficial noise, so you can try them out for yourself.

Here's the form to get started:

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