Art and the Art of Noise

Photo Credit: gfpeck via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: gfpeck via Compfight cc

I came across an article in the October issue of Mental Floss (one of my fave magazines) about the role that ambient noise plays in fostering creativity. The article says this:

According to a University of Chicago study, moderate noise helps creativity by slowing down the speed at which we process information. The lag keeps us from fixating, prompts abstract thinking, and even provides a healthy dose of mind wandering.

The key is to be like Goldilocks and aim for an environment that isn’t too quiet or too loud, but one that’s just right. “Just right” would be roughly 70 to 85 decibels. Below 70, we filter out the noise and don’t hear it. Above 85, it’s distracting or even stressful. So how do you know if the sound level is just right? Turns out that most coffee shop chatter falls right in the ideal zone.

There’s more good news too. If writing in a coffee shop isn’t an option for you, no worries. You can bring the coffee shop to you with Coffitivity. Or check out some other ambient noise sites and apps.

Nature sounds are popular, particularly rain. Check out Rainy Mood, Thunderspace, Jazz and Rain, or

Choose from a variety of sounds with Soundrown or CalmSound. Go one better and create your own mix with A Soft Murmur or MyNoise.

Do your best thinking in the shower? Maybe ShowerTime is for you.

For those in colder climates (or those who wish they were), Relaxing Snow, Snowy Mood, or Blazing Logs might suit you.

Finally, there are sites like Calm that combine nature sounds and relaxation music. To me, this is better for meditation and relaxation than for ambient noise while working on a creative task, but to each their own.

What do you think? Are you more creative with silence or with just the right amount of background noise?

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