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Mass makes things interesting

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Needing a little help with setting the mass for particles in a structured way.

In the past, in Maya, I've been able to set the mass of particles by, for example, using the red channel from the colour set on the particle. If this is done with changing say, a noise texture over time it creates a nice structrued feel to the way the particles act. If for example, they all had random values on emission there wouldn't be any appreciable "structure" to the way they act and move. with "textured mass", it gives a feel a little like "grains" would, there are groupings etc

So I've moved on and now getting to grips with Houdini and want to duplicate the same effect with emitting particles. I know I could hook up a texture from an emitting surface and link an attribute from map node to do this. I was wanting to look at the attribute from volume node instead, and am struggling with how this might be linked up. Partly because I'm in this case emitting from a curve, so no surface.

Any clues or insights would be much appreciated 

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