Lit review first draft

The practice of sound design has always been imperative in making modern media more believable to the audience, the immersion brought about by modern sound designers in cinema brings the movies to life.  Many people have become passionate with the art of embellishing media pieces with their designed sounds, so it has become well documented over the years.  The first book to mention is Film Sound: Theory and Practice (1985), by Elisabeth Weis and John Belton.  This book is actually a collection of essays compiled in 1985 which deal with both the the theory and practical uses of sound within film.  Alberto Cavalcanti writes an essay called Sound in Films within this book and highlights the claim of the efficacy of sound within film.

while the picture is the medium of statement, the sound is the medium of suggestion.” (Cavalcanti, A. approx. 1910. Page 109)

At the time of Cavalacanti writing he was referring to specifically music, but the message is still relevant to sound design in films.  He is stating that with the visuals in a film, very little can be implied to the scene, the sound is needed to put everything into context on screen.  Bringing the argument for the need for sound within films to the forefront even 100 years in the past.

Another book which has documented sound over the years is Michel Chion’s Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen (1994).  A book on the forefront of sound within film from 1994, highlighting new ideas and concepts coined by Chion himself in this very book.  Chion is the leading European writer for all things sound wise within the world of film, with this book regarded as the pinnacle of the field.  Acclaimed sound designer Walter Murch has revered Chion for this book stating “in the process Chion forges a number of original words that give him at least a fighting chance” (Murch, W. 1994).

Sound shows us differently than what the image shows alone, and the images likewise makes us hear sound differently than if the sound were ringing out in the dark.” (Chion, M. 1994. Page 21)

Chion is saying that both the audio and the visuals need each other to work efficiently, even though they need no accompaniment initially.  His whole book touches on this and other subjects similar such as synchresis and acousmêtre, explaining the relationship of audio and visuals.

David Sonnenschien has also written a great book on the subject; Sound Design: The Expressive Power of Music, Voice and Sound Effects in Cinema (2001).  He goes into detailed explanation about certain sound techniques in film sound, such as concrete sound.  Concrete sounds are the ones which are directly associated with the on-screen visual accompaniment.  This is mainly how something or someone’s physical stature can alter a sound, such as their height, weight, movement, how they contact something else and their impact on it.  Through his book Sonnenschien creates a step-by-step guideline on creating sound design, including creative methods to really make your soundtrack unique in a personal artistic style.

Most people in the field of audio production will be aware of Stanley Alten and his book Audio in Media (edition 9, 2010).  It is the book everyone is told to read as they begin a course in sound production because it is a great introduction to techniques used in sound production in everyday media.  The book is currently in its 9th edition, being constantly updated to keep current, up to date and accurate.

Peter Larsen wrote the book simply entitled Film Music (2007).  It contains a brief history of how the composer goes into tackling creating a soundtrack for a film.  He comments on the most effective methods of composition techniques in relation to a films visual stimuli throughout.  Larsen also creates two very detailed case studies of his favourite films for soundtracks; Metropolis and The Graduate.  These case studies go into great detail on several individual sounds within the films, which was a great insight on how to critically analyse films for case studies.

Ric Viers wrote The Sound Effect Bible (2008).  What this book is known for mostly is that it gives a recipe list on creating sound effects in the chapter ‘The Sound Effects Encyclopedia’.  This chapter shows great ways to record ambience, animal sounds, cartoon sounds, crowd sounds, sirens, explosions, foley, horror sounds, household sounds, industrial sounds, sci-fi sounds, vehicle sounds, war sounds and weather sounds.  So there is a lot to read through.

David Lewis Yewdall’s book; Practical Art of Motion Picture Sound (2011) is a read comprised of real life data, based on experiences from the authors own work within the field of sound for movies.  A very interesting section in Yewdall’s book is how he goes into detail on how the Academy selects and votes movies for the Best Sound Editing Award at The Oscars.

A great book that opens your eyes to the work of Jack Foley is The Foley Grail (2009) by Vanessa Theme Ament.  As well as an insight into Foley’s work, the book has a rundown on Foley recording sessions from cue sheets to recording.  The best thing about this book though is that there are many different sound designers offering their own personal methods for particular sound techniques for this book.

Foley is more often required than optional.” (Ament, V. 2009. Page 69)

Electronic Music and Musique Concrète (1961) is a book by F.C. Judd (Frederick Charles Judd), which highlights the authors personal journeys in electronic music through the 50s and 60s.  Judd worked in the armed forces during World War 2 and became an engineer through working with radar technologies.  As the Amateur Tape Recording Magazine (ATR) was released in 1959; he was recruited as a technical editor before being promoted to chief editor in 1963.  Judd spent a lot of his time researching and promoting electronic music until this books release in 1961 which explained a lot of his passion for electronic music with practical circuit diagrams.


These works have all been excellent reads in contextualizing and helping with this project and dissertation.  Through this project, the dissertation can also hopefully be used as a reference in future for the subject of sound design.  In the future there should be more psychological context for the project, which is something which can be read further into.  There are always new books released around the subject of sound and music within movies which an all help back and contextualize work such as this exploration into emotion, which are always valuable resources.  The more books read, the better the understanding of the subject, but a point in which this literature review is lacking is academic papers.  A good idea would be to look into academic papers to see what other research could help justify the findings in this dissertation.


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