David Sonnenschein offers a comprehensive, step-by-step guide, workflow and approach on the narrative use of a soundtrack (developing SD from the start) considering: acoustics (measurable properties of sound), perception (how the ear and brain interpret sound), music (sounds with ‘musical’ features), phonetics (human speech and meaning), audio-vision (film/sound theory), emotions (affect of sound), and descriptions (categorisation of sound)

  • On What to listen for in first script reading (p. 3):
    • Sounds linked to people, objects, actions EXPLICITLY described
    • Environments to be fleshed out the sonic ambiance
    • Key words that give clues to emotions (for both character and spectator)
    • Physical or dramatic transition
  • On Primary and Secondary emotions (p. 8) –  We have the choice to employ sound with just one of them, or to use spatial or temporal counterpoint.
    • Primary emotions: those felt by the characters in the story
    • Secondary emotions: those reactions felt by the audience
  • On bipolar extremes in emotions or keyword sounds when analysing the story i.e. closed-open, loud-soft, dry-echo, low/hi pitch, near-far, empty-full, friendly-menacing, strong, weak.
  • On spotting and creating cue sheets (aka sound maps) – uses 4 areas
    • Concrete Sounds: associated directly with image/story (degree of realism may vary)
    • Musical Sounds: may be insinuated from concrete sounds. They can represent moments of transition to music or characteristics such as tempo, pitch, rhythm
    • Music
    • Voice: dialogue and other vocal sounds.
  • On sound-image sync & surround (p. 47) – footsteps are often played Centre despite movement on screen. Our brains establish normality and we perceive space.
  • On final cue sheet (p. 49) – This contains each audio track as a column, where sound events occur from top to bottom. Usually Track 1 & 2 are FX. Track 3 is Foley. Track 4 & 5 are Ambient tracks. [Additional Tracks may be Music and VOX]
  • On Sound Imagery (p. 55)
    • Simile: acoustic similarities (scream and siren)
    • Hyperbole: obvious and intentional exaggeration (scream with alarm clock)
    • Metaphor: comparison of sound with an idea (scream with blinking red light)
    • Allegory: Represent abstract with concrete (scream held until climax)
    • Irony: contrast of least-expected opposites (scream with smile)
    • Paradox: contradiction that may express inner truth (scream and cigarette)
    • Vivification: living traits in an inanimate object (scream from doormat)
  • On Listening Modes (p. 77) – Chion’s reduced, causal and semantic. He adds Referential.
    • Reduced: Real-time awareness of sound itself (acoustically), divorced of source
    • Causal: to gather information about cause, space, size, source, etc.
    • Semantic: spoken language and ideas with meaning
    • Referential: awareness of emotional context and dramatic meaning. Can be instinctual, cultural, etc.
  • On Size, Distance and Perspective (p. 84) – several factors come in, reflectivity of indoor spaces, echo, loudness, high-frequency rolloff as distance increases.

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