The difference

Noise and Sound

Last night I watched the new Matrix movie and there was a scene where the general mentions that the Matrix makes a lot of noise in your brain. The line got me to thinking about what noise is exactly and why noise is not the same as sound.

Noise is an unwanted and unpleasant sound that invades and takes over at its apex noise is all that can be heard or even felt. Sound is different in that sound is the vibration that travels through the air. Sounds can be noisy and harmonious. It is odd that as an adjective sound is defined as good or wholesome ie the building is structurally sound, or the theory is sound.

Photo by Oleg Magni on

A younger me enjoyed listening to music that my parents thought was noise and now I hear some of my kids’ music and well I can empathize with my parents. I happen to enjoy many genres of music one of my favorite is Jazz. I love the free-form nature of jazz. My favorite part of jazz is improvisation. Jazz has all the same parts as music, melody, harmony, and rhythm. Some people receive Jazz and love it others are not as receptive.

It seems that reception is the key to the difference between sound and noise. How we receive a sound has a lot to do with what makes certain sounds noise.

In the movie, the noise that the general was referring to was noise inside our heads, distractions, disturbances, anything other than what we want our focus to be. Even though the noise is different it still seems that reception is the difference.

A good strategy for handling our overactive noisy brains is to shut off distractions if possible. If it is not possible to shut off the distractions maybe it is time to learn from the distractions or the noises. Be curious, learn what the distractions are why they have manifested.