Question: What do really funny farts sound like?
Short answer: Music.
Long answer: The connection between fart sounds and music was noted by Saint Augustine, who wrote:
“A number of people produce at will such musical sounds from their behind (without any stink) that they seem to be singing from the region.” (City of God, xiv.24).
Augustine was impressed, and since then a number of people have made a living in this way, including most notably the legendary flatulist, Le Pétomane. Visitors to Germany can experience Handkäse mit Musik, a type of cheese that is famous for producing musical farts.
In previous posts, we have reported that funny farts tend to be longer in duration and not very smelly. In both cases, however, the correlation between funniness and sound or smell was quite weak, suggesting that other factors are at work. We suspected that funnier farts are more musical, and to test this idea we examined a number of farts that were highly ranked for funniness in our database. We excluded farts that were longer than about 1 second, in order to isolate sound features that were funny, independent of duration. Plotted below are the peak frequencies over time for three funny farts (top row) and two unfunny1 farts (bottom row).
The main thing to observe is that the funny farts tend to sweep through different sound frequencies. They can be heard here:
In contrast, the unfunny farts hover around a constant sound frequency:
Further research is urgently needed to quantify the acoustic features of funny farts, but this preliminary analysis suggests that melody is a critical factor.
- We have not yet found a fart that is actually unfunny. We are using the term here in the relative sense.