Drip, drip, drip, plunk, plish, plosh, pop, gurgle,
burble, babble, whoosh, hiss, roarÂ?
What is water without sound?
The beauty, artistry and importance of water doesn't merely captivate the eye. It also enchants the ear, and a growing number of people are listening.
One East Coast center touts water sounds as a stress-buster for recovering alcoholics. Another author suggests using water sounds for comforting mothers in labor.
A gardening Web site notes that drops from a pinpricked water bucket into a pond can act as a bird magnet. The manufacturer of a hearing-aid device uses water as a background noise to cover up the ringing of tinnitus.
Most notably, there is the surge of interest in water fountains, which is as much about sound as it is about vision.
According to Homeworld Business Magazine, the market for fountains - or as the industry likes to call them,
"calming ponds" - has exploded within the past few years from 100,000 units in 1998 to 1 million in 1999 to 3.5 million in 2000.
Ranging in price from under $20 to thousands of dollars, fountains began hitting mass-market popularity in 1999, about the time that Michigan-based HoMedics began manufacturing its EnviraScape line.
"We saw fountains becoming a trend in a rather pricey market," and sought to make an affordable version, HoMedics spokeswoman Tami Estes said. The company now offers 19 designs ranging from $20 to $250.
"We experiment with different designs to get the desired sounds," Estes said. "We watch this closely because water sounds is one of the key reasons that consumers buy fountains."
What are they looking for?
Rather than plops or splashes, when consumers call up HoMedics with their views, they want "the sound of flowing water," Estes said.
Wal-Mart has noticed a similar trend.
"The most popular water sound our customers look for in fountains is babbling brooks," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Susanne Decker said.
Among those who tout the healing powers of water sounds are the fountain-makers themselves.
On its Web site, New York State-based Beyond the Rainbow had this to say about the sound of fountains.
"Listening to a fountain is like sitting beside a waterfall or swiftly flowing stream. The sound of running water is soothing and relaxing. It helps to block out less harmonious noises, and if we focus on it,
can also block out the unharmonious noises inside our own minds.