Project #2:Soundscape

Assigned: Wednesday, October 8
DUE: Wednesday, October 22nd

In this project, we will concentrate on aesthetics and techniques of sound production and design with an emphasis on cinematic applications. Students are encouraged to consider how these techniques and concepts can be applied to all time-based media from film / animation, to performance and installation art.

Objective: To introduce sound recording equipment and sound-editing software. To effectively create a “sound” artwork. To discuss installation and performance art.

Description: Create an original, 2-3-minute sound piece that uses primarily noise (vs. music or speech). The piece should not rely on conventional methods used in song or traditional musical composition. Your piece must use a minimum of five original, recorded sounds, but may also incorporate appropriated sound. However, you cannot include ANY excerpts from actual songs in this sound piece - ABSOLUTELY NOTHING YOU WOULD CONSIDER MUSIC. (i.e. anything that would be played on the radio, Pandora, etc...)

Create a soundscape of a real or imagined place that contains an object, which you find or create. Really think about the three types of sound in the cinema: noise, speech, and music. We have a tendency to put emphasis on voice and music, but the noise is what gives us a sense of space and reality to the scene! The listener should come away from your piece with a three (and four)-dimensional impression of your chosen place, created entirely by your choice of sounds and the object within the space. Your sound piece should in some way relate to, be inspired by, or interact with your chosen object. Make sure to bring both the object and the sound to critique. You may approach this assignment from many angles - narratively, as a sound “documentary,” an entirely abstract sound field, a performance, or as audio intended for a specific space as in an installation (or part of one).

As you begin working, consider how you can “paint a picture” with audio. How do the use of basic audio properties: time, speed, location (close or far), and volume change the nature of sound? What emotions can sound evoke in the viewer? What types of sound devices / sources have existed throughout history? How do people tune out sound? How do we tune in to / focus on sound? Voices? Machines? Music? How long is 2-3 minutes? What does time have to do with sound?

For this assignment, prepare a companion concept statement that describes the genre of the piece (i.e. narrative soundtrack, audio documentary, abstract sound piece) and your creative and/or technical goals (see below for details).

Preliminary Reading and Online Materials: Due Monday, Oct. 13th
Please read / watch these before the next class:

  1. Readings:
    1. Chapter 1: Sound Design: Origins and Influences from Sound Design & Science Fiction by William Whittington. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2009.
    2. Sound and Music (short excerpt from Digital Art by Christiane Paul)
  2. Watch: Online Videos:
    1. Profile of a Foley Artist:
    2. Sound Design: What is it? An approach to designing sound:

Original sound recordings: Due Wednesday, October 15th
Using the Digital Audio Recorder, record a minimum of ten sounds that could be used in your soundscape. Download them prior to the start of class and be ready to share your most interesting one. You may use the Zoom H4n Digital Audio Recorder from the MCaP, or your own digital audio recorder. If you are interested in sound recording, I highly recommend you consider purchasing one for yourself, or one of the many great accessories and apps for your smart phone.

Parameters and Technical Details For Final Soundscape (due Wednesday, October 22):

Concept Statement: (1-2 pages) (due with the final piece on October 22)
Write a 1-2 double-spaced page concept statement that includes:

Grading and Evaluation: Final Soundscapes will be graded on an equal balance of:


Sound Design Blogs and Articles
Film Sound
Designing Sound
Game Sound Design
Soundworks Collection
SounDesign Blog!

Creative Approaches
Jon Oswald: Plunderphonics
The Sound Design of Apocalypse Now
Musique Concrete by Pierre Schaeffer
War of the Worlds radio broadcast
This American Life radio show
L'Orange Old Soul

Technical Resources
The Practical Art of Motion Picture Sound (via BGSU Library Summon)
Digital Audio 101: The Basics
Location Sound and beyond

Sound Libraries!
Greg Smith Sound Effects Library

Equipment Policies:
MCaP (1024 Fine Arts): Zoom H4n audio recorders can be checked out M-Th 8:15am-7pm, Fri 8:15am-1pm. You may also reserve and use (In the MCaP only) the Sound Ideas “General HD Combo Sound Effects Collection Hard Drive” This contains nearly 33,000 searchable, royalty free sound effects.


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