Some Tricks To Try With White Noise

White noise is an ingredient for a diverse range of sounds in production. Similarly to light, it is made up of every frequency in equal intensities. This means that you have the whole spectrum of sound to pick out from it. Let's look at a few uses of white noise...

Low-End Rumble
A great cinematic rumble can be made from white noise. Simply by removing all the high frequencies, leaving only the bass and sub, you can get a powerful rumbling noise. As it still contains all the frequencies, it leaves a really low, thunderous roar - especially nice on a good subwoofer.

Play about with reverbs to get a sense of scale, though in the context of a mix, this gets quite tough, quite quickly to mix.

Try bringing back some of the higher end with an exciter or saturator. While this rumble isn't musical, it works great as a sound effect in songs or audio.

White Noise Build/Riser
Commonly found in dance and pop music, risers are where the frequency of noise increases with the energy, typically before a drop.

White noise can be used for this in many ways. The simplest would be to boost a band on your EQ and slowly sweep it higher as the track progresses. This doesn't sound too great though. Better yet, use a upward sweeping bandpass which removes all the muddy lows as it sweeps higher, it also limits how much of the sound is present.

Using ReaEQ, you could set a high pass filter to increase in 

Playing with filter cutoffs and resonances can be a great way to get started, or even to be used in addition to the EQ.

Use of reverbs, delays, and spacial plugins allow the sweep to sound huge, while phasers and flangers can add to the swelling effect.

I have found that large amounts of EQ often need applying to get it to fit around the other instruments, as risers can all to frequently be too conspicuous. In addition to EQ, try sidechaining it to a kick or a muted kick so the pumping is present - both to accommodate the kick, and indicate the energy coming up.

All these tricks can be applied in reverse to make a downward riser.

Make Notes and Tones for Re-Sampling
Because every frequency is present in white noise, we can slowly extract the note we want in various ways. This is great if you want to then resample and make an instrument from it.

The use of resonant filters, combs, and flanger-like effects, we can pull out various frequencies and resonances. Play about with these effects until an obvious "tone" becomes prominent.

Another trick would be to use a speaker and play the noise into a tube and record the resonances, perhaps replay the recorded sound back into the tube and record a few more times so the resonance becomes more prominent.

From here, we can use an auto tuner plugin such as G-Snap (Free) to correct the tone to an exact musical note, then we can sample it and place it across a keyboard (semi-tone adjusted).

This gives us a really dirty, noisy sound with an obvious pitch. Remember, the frequency of the noise will adjust equally with the main tone, so the melody is more obvious.

Gated Noise
Trance gates are excellent to use on white noise, if you take a high passed white noise sample and apply a fast trance gate to it, it will sound like a rough electronic hi-hat pattern. With more EQ and playing about, you can get reasonably realistic hi-hat sounds using a trance gate and playing about with the sequencer.

Of course gates won't just make hi-hats, they can be applied to risers to give a much more rhythmic feel. A very quiet white noise sample which is gated can give the feeling of rhythm or sidechaining when there is little other sound, reverb works well here.

A1TriggerGate is a good free example

Try randomly modulating a resonant filter over white noise and then gating the resulting sound. Done right, it can make cool rhythmic tones and beats which sound experimental. Add various transient shapers, reverbs and compression, before layering over a real beat for a cool effect.