How sonic elements of music can be used to communicate.

Sound is everywhere, even a place which most of us would perceive to be silent, or at least with out much (or many) sounds there are hundreds of noises; most of which being ignored by our conscious minds but every one is heard and remembered by our subconscious mind.

Sound can evoke all kinds of feelings and take us back to places we once were but have long forgotten. The sound of a certain type of bell might remind someone of the taste of their school lunch, the sound of someone splashing with a certain type of indoor ambiance could, for a second remind one of the smell of chlorine in an indoor pool.

The mind maps sounds to experiences and feelings, just like it does for smells, feelings  and sights but add sound to a vision and that same vision could be very disturbing or very funny. Knowing the power of sound and its ability to make the same piece of video footage funny or highly disturbing all on its own we can start to understand how we can make music do the same, often with more ease.

Traditionally in film, sound design would mean basic sounds and effects that we would expect to hear; footsteps, car sounds and the like, only venturing into the experimentally and electronic if it was a sci-fi movie. Music would be scored and recorded by an orchestra and, especially with regards to main stream Hollywood movies, would use clichéd orchestral effects to enhance scenes of extreme emotion, for example love, hatred, anxiety.

The line between sound and music in film can be, especially presently a very fine one and more often than not the roles of composer and Foley artist cross.

Film Foley design in its traditional sense involves simply recreating (usually in an exaggerated form) sounds that we would expect to hear, a plate crashing when its dropped, footsteps, clothes rubbing; Sounds like this cannot usually be captured Satisfactually while filming and so are added later, in its basic form.

Foley can change perception, making footsteps heavier can change the mood of a scene, placing footsteps in the audio track where there is no one visible on the screen tells us that someone is outside our field of view, we can even understand what the weather is like outside when there is no window in shot.

A good understanding of the power of organic sound and the basic primal triggers that certain sonic elements can invoke can be gained by looking at the way Foley has been used for many years. We know that the human mind can be influenced and suggested to by sound in certain contexts but what if we want to convey something less literal?

This is where musical scores for film and television can become very exciting, hinting towards organic sounds but confusing the contexts to give the audience something both familiar and alien at the same time.

With the above taken into account, intelligent combination of the sonic and the melodic can result in the musical element of a story playing a most powerful and creatively exciting role.


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