In 2015, rumors surfaced about a DJ in England who caused a crowd of 500 people to violently shit themselves in the middle of his set. How, you ask? By playing a single noise known as "the brown note."
As the story made waves, people started investigating the brown noise and its controversial science. Could this noise really be powerful enough to unload a grown adult's bowels?
Perhaps you recall his phenomenon from season 3 of South Park, where Cartman uses a flute to play the brown note and make a delivery guy poop himself. It's also made its way into episodes of Tim and Eric, Orange Is the New Black, The League, Archer, and more.
We were skeptical about the brown note, so we investigated whether it's a legit laxative or an elaborate hoax.
What Is the Brown Note?
The brown note (also called the brown noise) is a sound frequency that supposedly makes you lose control of your bowels and poop instantly. The frequencies are said to be between 5 and 9 Hz, making the brown note "infrasonic."
Frequencies in the infrasound range (below 20 Hz) aren't heard by your ears as sound, but you can feel them in your body. Examples include airplane engines or the kick drum at a rock concert. The theory is that the brown note can literally move your bowels with infrasonic sound waves.
Big if true.
There are dozens of YouTube videos claiming to play the brown note. One of these videos, which has nearly two million views, comes with a stern warning: "Please be careful when listening to this and make sure a toilet is readily available!"
Before you waste your time, it's important to note that computers can't produce infrasonic frequencies—you need heavy-duty audio equipment.
Where Did the Brown Note Come From?
Legend has it that the brown note was researched secretly during World War II. Who needs real weapons when you have a sound weapon that makes your enemy defecate on command? Unfortunately, we couldn't verify this story.
The earliest official reference to audio laxatives dates back to a spoof article in the 1974 issue of New Scientist. The author described a 100-foot-wide speaker called a "Collosophone," which caused an entire crowd to defecate during a recitation of the national anthem.
"As soon as the first notes crashed out, the audience showed signs of discomfort, which gave rise to a panic before a verse of the Anthem was complete," the article read. "Moreover, the evident mass psychological disturbance was accompanied by unpleasant physiological symptoms: pain, dieresis, and diarrhea."
Alright, enough urban legends. Let's see what happens when people put the brown noise to the test IRL.
Does the Brown Note Really Make You Poop?
Despite the viral claims, there's no evidence that the brown note (or any sound frequency) can trigger a bowel movement—unless you believe trolls in the YouTube comments.
"The idea that there's a magical frequency where astounding things happen is wishful thinking," says Dr. Matthew Wright, a Senior Lecturer in Acoustics at the University of Southampton. "There's no particular reason why the bowels would respond [to the brown note] differently than any other part of your body."
The lack of scientific merit didn't stop MythBusters from conducting an elaborate brown note experiment in 2005.
After equipping co-star Adam Savage with a diaper, they blasted him with sound frequencies as low as 5 Hz, attaining 120 decibels of sound pressure at 9 Hz.
"It was like somebody was drumming on my chest…it was incredibly, powerfully intense," said Adam.
But there wasn't a trace of poo to be found.
"Those are really long wavelengths, so it's physically moving air in and out of your lungs as you breathe," explained the audio technician on the set of the experiment.
The final verdict on the brown note: busted.
Does Brown Noise Have Any Real Benefits?
For all intents and purposes, the brown note theory is a load of shit. However, a different type of brown noise is picking up traction on TikTok—and this time, it's way more legit.
You've probably heard of white noise, which can calm your mind and help you sleep. There's also pink noise, which has a low-frequency sound like rainfall. And then there's brown noise, which sounds deeper, like an airplane or rushing water.
Unlike the elusive brown "note" which is infrasonic, you can actually hear this kind of brown noise.
There aren't any studies dedicated to brown noise specifically. However, research from 2021 suggests that white and pink noise help people fall asleep faster and improve their sleep quality. So it stands to reason that brown noise can accomplish the same things.
Some TikTokers claim brown noise has boosted their cognitive performance and "cured" their ADHD. But that might be a stretch.
You can find brown noise on almost every streaming app, like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube.
Try These Tips to Make You Poop (for Real)
If you actually want to make yourself poop, don't waste your time with brown note videos on YouTube. We've covered dozens of techniques to rev up your digestive tract here on the DUDE Blog—here are our top five:
- Drink a cup of coffee
- Massage your gooch
- Take a walk
- Pop a laxative
- Eat some prunes
Just make sure you've got a DUDE Wipe on hand for cleanup on aisle you.