Design Conventions: Sound

Design Conventions: Sound

Sound Design Basics

  • Sound Design conventions in drama involve the intentional use of audio elements to enhance and complement the overall production. It can be used to establish mood, enhance the action, provide information, or create an overall atmosphere for the scene.
  • The timing of sound cues is crucial to their effectiveness. The sound designer and the director must collaborate to ensure that sounds are triggered at the exact moment they are required for the dramatic effect.
  • The volume and quality of the sound are as important as the sounds themselves. It’s crucial to consider how loud the sound should be, whether it’s coming from a specific location onsite or offsite, or if it needs to envelop the whole performance area.
  • Sound design isn’t just about the sounds that can be heard. Vibration can be used as a powerful tool to add another dimension to the way the audience experiences the performance.

Types of Sound and Their Usage

  • Sound effects can be either diegetic or non-diegetic. Diegetic sounds are those which exist within the world of the play (like a character playing a guitar). Non-diegetic sounds are those which don’t exist within the world of the play and are typically used for dramatic effect (like ominous music to build suspense).
  • Ambient sound refers to background noise used to create the illusion of a particular environment, such as a busy city street, a calm beach, or a quiet forest.
  • Soundscaping is a technique that layers multiple sounds together to create a textured and immersive aural environment.
  • Foley sounds are sound effects that are created and used in post-production to enhance the realism of a scene. Foley artists recreate these sounds using various methods and materials, such as stepping in gravel to replicate the sound of walking on a cobblestone street.

Consideration of Silence and Space

  • Silence is also a powerful tool in sound design. The absence of sound can let the audience focus fully on the visual or can be used to create suspense or a feeling of unease.
  • Lastly, the soundscape should be designed with the venue in mind. The acoustics of the performance space will impact the effectiveness and clarity of the produced sound. Practicing sound checks and adjusting to the performance space is an essential step in sound design.