In response to the theme ‘catalyst’, the sounds that I chose to record and/or find online are ones that happen as a result of something else, and often create a change in the listener as well. Of the 7 sounds, the ones I recorded are ‘scream’, ‘bark’, ‘car horn’, and ‘drop’; the ones from the internet are ‘siren’, ‘smoke alarm’ and ‘car skid’.
Alten notes that‘sound is a force…it can excite feeling, convey meaning’ (4), and iconic sounds are especially useful in doing this. The 7 sounds all have instantly recognizable meanings, and the narrative context is easy to infer by the listener.
To break these down, the listeners are able to discern a sense of urgency or agitation from ‘smoke alarm’ and ‘siren’ because of the high pitch and quick tempo of both sounds (10), whereas the sudden attack to a very high volume of ‘car horn’, ‘scream’ and ‘car skid’ creates a sharpness, as well as note danger or suddenness (11).
Finally, the ‘drop’ and ‘bark’ are both very organic noises, with uneven rhythm. ‘Drop’ has a very sudden attack, followed by a slow decay as the item slowly comes to a stop on the floor. On the other hand, ‘bark’ has a strange rhythm, where any pattern in barking can be broken by the dog deciding to bark differently. An uneven rhythm denotes erraticism (10), as is the pattern with animals and dropped objects, whereas slow decay denotes uncertainty (11).
I recorded using a personal note-taker, meaning the button presses are audible. Excluding those sounds, I took care in recording in the natural environment of the sound in order to create the proper audio space.
For example, ‘bark’ was recorded inside a house with hard and soft objects that both absorb and reflect, creating a familiar indoor texture. I stayed stationary while the dog moved, and thus created perspective and direction (271). ‘Car horn’ was recorded inside a garage, and the echo from metal walls created a very sharp timbre. ‘Drop’ was done in the kitchen using an aluminium bowl and tiles. The kitchen is full of hard surfaces so the timbre was extremely cold. ‘Scream’ was intentionally done in a very large open area without many trees, in order to best create a big echo, and a large distance between listener and sound.
I intended to avoid as much ground or field sound as possible, but it was not possible in ‘scream’ when there were factors I couldn’t control such as other people.
The sounds I chose from elsewhere reflect my intentions. ‘Siren’ is taken from a Japanese ambulance, and contains several layers of siren in varying rhythm. I cannot know, but I would guess that ‘smoke alarm’ is recorded in a very quiet room; and ‘car skid’ was recorded in an open and empty car park, but with enough surroundings to mask echo.
Alten, S., Audio in Media, Belmont: Wadsworth, 1994. Pg 5-12; 266-286.
‘Sirens‘ by Trinity101 is available at FreeSound.org, under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0
‘Smoke Alarm Piep Piep‘ by Jan18101997 is available at FreeSound.org, under a Creative Commons Public Domain 1.0
‘Car Breaking Skid‘ by Iberian_Runa is available at FreeSound.org under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0