sound blog

February 4, 2010

What is sound?

a wave that causes the fluid in our cochlea to move tiny hairs which get excited and sending a nervous impulse to the auditory cortex which then spreads out to the associative areas of the brain and beyond.  We live in a soundscape and Murray schaffer in the 1970’s founded the world soundscape project describing soundscape ecology as a delicate equilibrium that, as a human being, provides a sense of place.  He argued we need to cleanse our hearing and listen in order to be aware of the soundscape we live in and improve it.

What is music?

To quote Edgard Verese, the godfather of electronic music,  ‘music is organised sound’ John Cage said it when he composed his piece 4 minutes and 33 seconds silence.  The audience were forced to listen.  The sound they heard was framed with the potential energy of a performance with the pianists fingers poised at the piano.  He argued that music is what we hear and how we hear it and anything can be music.  Brian Eno described his sound experiment of listening to a short sound clip of a park on a summers day.  After listening over and over again, the dog bark, the distant car alarm, the children screaming had a perfect rhythm and sounded right, the listener becomes accustomed to the sound and a kind of grace becomes implicit.  We look for meaning filling in the gaps and impose purpose to what we hear.

field recordists frame the sound as a photographer frames an image using their intuitive sense to revealed something of the rhythms of the universe from a recording of reality.  Pierre scheaffer was a pioneer in using field recordings to create a new form of music (musique concrete) which really forms the bedrock for a lot of electronic music and ‘sound art’ today.  It is also reflected in the film soundtrack.

A Film soundtrack is a composition of human voice, real sounds (from the shoot), performed sound fx (foley), stock field recordings (Atmospheres, sound FX), manipulated sound, synthesised sound and recorded music.  All dancing around the image and playing with the narrative guiding and manipulating meaning and emotion.  The bounderies between field recording, studio recording, sound and music is elegantly blurred and the ‘music’ component of a film soundtrack is often simply down to where it sits in the mix tracks (is in in the music session or the sfx session) and if the person who created it has been hired as a composer or a sound designer/effects editor.


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