Did you know all these white noise secrets? (music production tips)

Did you know all these white noise secrets? (music production tips)
Written by: Dexxter Clark, 19-04-2020
White noise is all the frequencies you can get, at once!
Static noise, or white noise has some magic for the music producer.
White noise is everywhere around us, all the time.
It is terrible to listen to on high volume, but pleasant or calming on the right level.
Things like falling rain, a waterfall or applause resembles white noise strongly.
When you are on a festival and the drop is `dropping`, this is the moment where they start those fog machines.
And when you think about it, a fog machine is pretty much white noise too.
It`s not only the visual, but also the audible part plays a role in a psychological process to make us feel better.

You can use white noise in a number of ways.
A couple of them I lay out here.

First of all: there are people claiming that you can mix your track by using white noise to get the levels right.
If that is the way to go for a music producer is a discussion for another day, so I won`t go into detail here.


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White noise as background

White noise is heavily used in electronic music as background noise.
But it is used at a volume you barely hear it, but you will miss it when it`s not there.
White noise is highly used in track drops where a high level of excitement is intended.
If white noise is used or not by a music producer, depends on the genre, especially electro house is full of it.

White noise on melodies

Did you notice that in most (if not all) synthesizer plugins there is an option for white noise?
If you add white noise to your melody isn`t as dry, it is more airy and more `crunchy`.
And again, maybe you will not hear it, but you will miss it when it`s not there.
Of course, the right volume level is crucial.

White noise buildups

Most buildups before drops are made with a variation of white noise in one way or another.
You can do this by automating the volume level and roll-off of frequencies by an equalizer in your DAW.


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White noise as high hat

You may not have thought of this usage of white noise.
I said that white noise is all around us: a high hat has also strong similarities with white noise.

You may (or may not) have noticed that the white noise high hat was already used in the 80`s by video games.
The first level of Super Mario Bros on the NES uses white noise as high hat.
A high hat sample was `expensive` back in the days in terms of storage capacity.
The next best thing was white noise, which was `free`.
It get`s even better, the NES had a special sound channel that was dedicated to white noise.
A whole slew of sound effects in games on the NES was made by using white noise.
Music and sound effects in Megaman games comes to mind.

Nowadays we still can use white noise for sound effects like high hats in our music production.
The advantage is that we can shape the sound any way we like, while a high hat sample is pretty static.
A sample has a fixed attack and length for example.
You could slow it down or speed it up, but is always comes at a cost (pitch or quality).
We have more flexibility with white noise: we can change the ADSR (Attack Decay Sustain Release) to shape a `high hat` that opens and closes.
Proper layering is maybe required to get the sound you want, white noise on it`s own can sound pretty dull.


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Music theory hard?
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White noise as (top)kick

No, I`m not lying. I talked about about Mario before.
In the famous first level Super Mario Bros on the NES tune, white noise was also used as kick!
Maybe not very useful for us as music producer nowadays, but layer this as top kick with a proper subkick and you have a superb kick!
(Or you can mask with the white noise that you stole someone else`s kick).

If you are serious about DJing and want to take it to the next level on the CDJ,
you should check out my CDJ 2000 video course.

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photo author dexxter clark
Dexxter Clark
Music Producer / YouTuber

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