Tagged: week 3

Readings: Creating the Sound Design

Alten, S. 1994, Creating the Sound Design, Audio in media, (p266-286). Belmont: Wadsworth


Sound provides cognitive information and affective information.

Sound can be grouped into three categories: music, sounds, and speech.

The basic components of sound structure include pitch, loudness, timbre, tempo, rhythm, attack, duration, and decay


“Speech has basically two functions, narration and dialogue, and conveys meaning primarily through emphasis, inflection, and aural mood.” pg 268


Direct Narration – describes what is being seen or heard

Indirect Narration– gives further information while the action in the scene speaks for itself

Contrapuntal narration – as the term suggests, counterpoints narration and action to make a composite statement not explicitly carried in either element.

Although the particular narrational approach depends on the script, understanding the influences of narration on content in general results in a better-conceived sound design.

Other elements of speech:




Aural Mood of Words and Sentences

– “The second sentence contains rounder, gentler sounds that provide less of a sonic complement to the verbal meaning.” pp270


Contextual sounds

Narrative Sound

– Descriptive sound

– Commentative sound – can also describe but it makes an additional statement

The effects of sound effects: defining space, establishing locale, creating environment, emphasizing and intensifying action, depicting identity, setting pace, providing counterpoint, symbolizing meaning, and unifying transition.

Defining Space – sound defines space by establishing distance, direction of movement, position, openness, and dimension.

Establishing Locale

Creating Environment

Emphasizing Action

Intensifying Action

Depicting Identity

Setting Pace

Providing Counterpoint

Symbolizing Meaning

Unifying Transition

– overlapping occurs when the sound used at the end of one scene continues, without pause, into the next scene.

– A lead-in occurs when the audio that introduces a scene is heard before the scene actually begins.

– A segue


– linear sound provides melody and rhythm; simultaneous sound provides harmony and texture.

Melody– Melody is a succession of pitched musical tones of varied durations.

– Generally, if a melody moves in narrowly pitched steps and ranges, it tends to be expressive and emotional. If it moves in widely pitched steps and ranges, it tends to be conservative and unexpressive.

Harmony – is a simultaneous sounding of two or more tones

consonance in music is produced by agreeable, settled, balanced, stable-sounding chords. dissonance is produced by unsettled, unstable, unresolved, tense-sounding chords.

Dynamic Range 

Crescendo – changes sound level from quiet or moderate to loud.

Diminuendo – changes level from loud to soft

Tremolo– a rapidly repeated ampliude modulation


– style is a fixed, identifiable musical quality uniquely expressed, executed, or performed.


– It is music’s unique and universal language and vast vocabulary that make is so widely applicable in aural communication.  pp 276

– establishing locale

– emphasizing action

– intensifying action

– depicting identity

-setting pace

– providing counterpoing

– unifying transition

– fixing time

– recalling or foretelling events

– evoking atmosphere, feeling, or mood


– But is the pauses or silences between words, sounds and musical notes that help to create rhythm, contrast, and power- elements important to sonic communication.


When discussing the sound-picture relationship there are five relationships:

1. Sound parallels picture

2. Sound defines picture

3. Picture defines ound

4. Sound and picture define effect

5. Sound counterpoints picture

sound parallels picture – neither the aural nor the visual element is dominant. In other words, what you see is what you hear.

sound defines picture – when sound defines picture, not only is audio dominant, but it also often determines the point of view.

picture degines sound –  Picture helps to define sound by calling attention to particular actions or images

sound and picture define effect – when sound and picture define effect, the aural and visual elements are different, yet complementary.

Sound counterpoints picture – when sound counterpoints picture, both elements contain unrelated information that creates an effect of meaning not suggested by either element alone.


The school of documentarists producing in the cinema verite style record life without imposing upon it; production values do not motivate or influence content.

– microphone selection and placement could be designed to emphasize a harsh cutting sound suggesting an insensitivity toward the poor… All of these approaches to the sound design enhance overall impact and meaning without compromising the cinema verite style.

Readings: The Lens of Fear

Altheide, D 2002, ‘The Lens of Fear’, in Creating Fear: News and the Construction of Crisis’, Aldine De Gruyter, New York, pp. 175-198

Altheide argues the pervasive nature of Fear through Media in modern day society. Using an analogy of the Lighthouse which once gave sailors exactly as much information as they needed for safety, in the modern era we have so much access to information that we are ‘blinded’ by it so as not to be able to recognise what is actually required for us to conduct our individual lives in a reasonable manner.

Altheide explores Danger, Risk and Fear. Danger is a qualitative element – it is or it isn’t dangerous. Risk is a quantitative element – How dangerous is it? Both Danger and Risk are elements of general interest

Fear is an orientation to the world.  It is atmosphere and emotion. Fear is a private interest which is cultivated by mass media.

Fear’s evolution from Religion offering salvation, to governments offering security. There has also been the increase in information communicated which has coincided with the reduction in real threats.


“…the focus of media attention has taken a toll on our ability to see our way clearly.” pp 175

Fear is an orientation to the world. God and organized religion provided salvation from fear in a sacred society. The state and formal social control promise salvation from fear in our secular society.” pp 176

“…popular culture has been the key element in promoting the discourse of fear.” pp 177

“However, it is not just “fear of crime” or a particular thing, but rather a sense or an identity that we are all actual or potential victims held in common by many people.”

“… identity, social context, perceptions, and social definitions are very relevant for how safe people feel.” (Farral et al. 2000; Ven der Wurff, Van Stallduinen, and Stringer 1989)

“… the techniques and exclusions by which which those objects are constituted a danger persists.” (Campbell 1998,13)

“It is the fear of the “other” that we anticipate; we see numerous reports about very atypical occurrences, but we see them night after night.” pp178

“Cultural and political contexts contributed to the emergence of fear as a perspective that pervades everyday life. A massive expansion of electronic media outlets overlapped historically with unprecendented consumer growth and Gross National Product, te decline of “real” international threats, and conservative political agendas that used crime and especially drug-related issues to gain political legitimacy.” pp179

“…as audiences were transformed into markets. Involvement in the public realm increasingly shifted to mass-mediated information emphasizing fear and crises.” pp179

“… In this way, the state project of security replicates the church project of salvation. The state grounds it legitimacy by offering salvation to its followers who, it says, would otherwise be destined to an unredeemed death.” (Campbell 1998, 50)

“There can be no fear without actual victims or potential victims. In the post-modern age, victim is a status and represntation and not merely a person or someone who has suffered as a result of some personal, social, or physical calamity.” pp 180

[Discussing religion] “… an ambiguous situation arose in which there was (and is) a demand for external guarantees inside a culture that has erased the ontological preconditions for them.” (Ashley 1989, 303)

“… conservative political agendas have benefited from joining fear and victim with crime control agendas, the issue is much bigger, particularly the relationship between fear and every-day life culture.” pp 182

“group sense” … “These boundaries occur through institutional processes that are grounded in everyday situations and encounters, including language, discourse, accounts, and conversation” pp 182

“…the mass media, social control, and surveilance are connected is that common perspectives and communication styles are involved. They are coproducers, and if the images that they are promoting are inaccurate and individually or socialy destructive, then they are involved in mass-mediated terrorism, which was defined earlier as “the purposeful act or threat of violence to create fear and/or complaint behaviour in a victim and or audience of the act or threat” (Lopez and Stohl 1984) pp185

“…our risk society is a feature of people having more information about risks and then acting on this information by either seeking more information, avoiding activities, or demanding protection.” pp187

“All must recognise their constitutive weakness or, better, recognise that by their very existence they are a risk to others. Each individual must bed to the imperatives of group solidarity.” pp188

“The term prevention does not indicate simply a practice based on the maxim than an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but also the assumption that if prevention is necessary it is because danger exists.” pp 188

“… the problem frame which promotes risk and danger as fear.” pp188

fear is a fundamentally different psychological experience than perceived risk. While risk entails a cognitive judgement, fear is far more emotive in character. Fear activates a series of complex bodily changes aletting the actor to the possibility of danger. (Ferraro 1995. 95) (pp188)

“Fear produces victims and reinforces the notion that everyone is actually or potentially a victim.” pp189

“Fear, after all, is a perspective that is learned from others. Except for exceptional and pathological instances, we become what our salient “others” model and affirm for us.” pp191

“stereotypes are easy to accept even when they are false” pp 195

“When it comes to violence, media stories may unintentionally form public images of right and wrong… …formatting of violent accounts may be constructing social opinion rather than reflecting it.” pp195

“Social fears are related to personal fears in complex ways. Unraveling the reltaionships for specific fears is an avowedly psychoanalytical task that has been largely neglected, thus opening up another opportunity for social researchers. For example. fear of crime may be connected to certain compulsive behaviours, paranoia, and so forth, but these are now sanctioned by public officials as reasonable prudent, responsible, and even intelligent activities.” pp195