A new person recently came to live at our house who has the condition some would describe as colic.
After consulting some of the experts (haven’t read the book, but the DVD is really good) we found that one of the common calming techniques is the use of loud, constant sounds–white noise being one of the most common. White noise is the static sound you hear when a radio is in between stations. This technique is very annoying after a while because it is hard to find a place on the dial that is purely static without nearby stations fading in and out. A friend suggested buying the White Noise CD on iTunes, but I figured there must be a simple way to create one myself with Linux. Parenting is an introduction to a completely previously undiscovered galaxy and my search for a free solution to a white noise CD turned up some interesting things too.
The good news is that on most days, it really does work–sometimes the louder the better.
In addition to soothing a baby, white noise can also be used to drown out distracting sounds found in offices and other places. I found this interesting link explaining how it all works. Even linux.com had an article on it. In the end I discovered that there are other colors of noise, including my preference–pink noise.
Once I found a few samples on Google I looped them using Audacity to create a 70 minute wav file that I then burned to a CD. Audacity has a menu option for generating white (not pink) noise, but it must be useful for something else. When I selected this option and specified 60 minutes it created a file several gigabytes in size and completely froze my Fedora 8 desktop.
Now after getting tired of this sound it occurred to me that I could loop other sounds to create my own ambient sound CD. It turns out my idea is not so original so here is a link to a good article by David Horton where he explains how to do it. This article is also useful as a quickstart guide to Audacity if you wish to loop a white or pink noise sound clip.
Along the way I found this great site which traffics in free sounds in an open source sort of way using the Creative Commons Sampling Plus License. It is called the The Freesound project. You can find sounds of just about anything here. It turns out that like Fedora they are looking for mirroring space. I wonder if the Fedora Project could help them out in some way?