Home: Fountains and the Sound of Water


Fountains & The Sound of Water

Who hasn’t enjoyed the sound of water playing over a surface? Whether a roaring fall, a trickling meander, or an invigorating splash, the sound of water is programmed into our brains as a signal of well-being and abundance. We are, after all, made mostly of water. For me, the sound of water is as important as the look of a water feature.

I live in a water-scarce area in Sonoma County, so the sound of water is especially enjoyable here. A few years ago I decided make my first fountain.

It took a week to build my fountain, two months to tile it, and four years to tune it to my satisfaction! That’s how I learned that function must precede form.


Sonic Principals of Design:

Experience (and my natural inclination as an engineer and tile setter) has taught me that choosing the desired sound is the first critical step to making or buying a fountain.

  • Start with the sound you want to create.
  • Then, design the function that will create that sound.
  • Finally, house this function in a form that pleases you. (Or just shop for it and bring it home.)

Fountain created by author

Think about the mood you would like to create. Is the fountain intended for an intimate relaxation/meditation area, or for a larger public environment, or one meant to stimulate rather than relax? Here sounds like geysers, pouring, or spewing are more suitable. For some, the sound of water pouring is invigorating, while to others this sound may prove annoying.

The Sounds of Water Falling:

I have categorized the major sounds observed, and how water creates them.

  • Pour: Water falls as a unit in either a column or as a sheet in one continuous sound.

subject23_fountains_100_315 subject23_fountains_100_316

  • Spew: Water is expelled horizontally with some horizontal force.


  • Drizzle: Water emerges and clings to a surface silently.
  • Drip: Water falls in droplets at regular or irregular intervals.
    This example of a drizzle/drip is located at the Sebastopol Peace Garden in Ragle Park.


  • Spatter: Water percusses against a surface and shatters. (This is often used in combination with pour.)
  • Burble/bubble: A short vertical column of water falls back on itself.


  • Geyser:  A long vertical column of water falls back on itself and shatters.


  • Spray: Water is emitted vertically or horizontally and is broken into small droplets by a fountainhead.


  • Combination:  Any combination of one or more of these water patterns can make music. For example, this image shows burble/drizzle/pour as a lovely combination.


I suggest you visit a fountain store or various fountain sites, and pay attention to your favorite sounds and how they are made before selecting or creating your own fountain. Absolute Statuary and Fountains in Sebastopol is one of my favorite places in Sonoma County to hear water burble and drip.

Enjoy making or buy a fountain of your own; it will enhance the atmosphere of your home or work environment. Indoors or out, the pleasure of a fountain’s sound can bring you health and joy.

by Diane Masura

Editor’s note:  Our next issue will feature Halloween holiday fun, including the floating pumpkin patch at Ridgeway pool, October 19th.  The event supports a local community organization, so if you’d like to be part of the fun, check them out online.