What we hear with our ears is sound. However, we can hear a wide range of sounds, ranging from pleasant to downright unpleasant. The pleasant ones could be referred to as music, while the unpleasant ones could be referred to as noise.

Noise does not discriminate; it has no face, no limits, and no size, but it does have an identity that can be described as a loud, surprising, irritating, static, or unwanted sound, to name a few. Noise affects people in a variety of ways, ranging from natural to man-made. It will arrive, and it will have a significant impact on our lives.

Most people would agree that loud noises are unpleasant to the ears. Noise is a term used to describe a loud sound. If the sound is too loud, our eardrums may be damaged and we may go deaf. Earmuffs are used to protect the ears of artillery gunners and marksmen.

When a teacher is not present, the most common noise I hear is that made by my class. I’m not sure how many decibels these kids can produce, but they’re loud. I must admit that I occasionally contribute to it as well. When all or most of us try to speak at the same time, the noise is a jumble of sounds coming from our mouths. As it is impossible to make oneself heard when others are speaking, everyone is tempted to speak louder and louder. So the noise rises in a crescendo until a teacher appears to put an end to the uproar. The abrupt silence that follows is indeed golden.

One thing strikes me about sound. A sound is simply a sound, but whether it is music or noise is entirely dependent on the listener. For example, my neighbor enjoys listening to his radio loudly. He enjoys it or he wouldn’t play it so loudly. That loud music is not music to me. It is noise, and it is very annoying noise.

I have a motorcycle mechanic friend who enjoys “revving” motorcycle engines. To his ears, the sound of high-pitched engines is music. He spends hours each day on these engines and can describe in detail how the sounds can tell him the state of the airlines. Most people, however, would agree that the engines are too loud.

Every Saturday night the roads near my house are turned into race-tracks by leather-jacketed youngsters on their souped-up machines. The noise they make in the middle of the night is terrible. These “help-riders” however would surely disagree with me.

Noise is produced every day and everywhere by vehicles, machinery, factories, aeroplanes, loudspeakers, television and radio, dogs and other animals and of course people, both young and old.

The modern world is polluted not only by physical things like garbage and smoke, but also by unpleasant sound. Every day, we are subjected to some level of noise. It could be a baby’s scream, a car horn blast, the clanking of machinery, the distorted sound of the supermarket’s loudspeaker, garbage on television, dog barking, or a fight between people. We can’t completely avoid them, but we can minimize them by not making unnecessary noise ourselves. This is a good idea, but I understand that it is easier said than done.