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Sound Design

The Expressive Power of Music,

Voice, and Sound Effects in Cinema

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The Expressive Power of Music, Voice and Sound Effects in Cinema

The clash of light sabers in the electrifying duels of Star Wars. The chilling bass line signifying the lurking menace of the shark in Jaws. The otherworldly yet familiar pleas to "go home" in the enchanting E.T.

These are examples of the many different ways in which sound can contribute to the overall dramatic impact of a film. Sound design is as important as art direction and cinematography when it comes to crafting a distinctive atmosphere for your film, and it can also be an effective tool in expressing the personalities of your characters.

In addition to introducing basic theory and analyses of examples of well-known films, this groundbreaking book shows you how to use music, dialogue, and sound effects to provoke an emotional reaction from your audience.

Interactive, simple exercises nurture your creative ability to hear and compose the most effective sounds to express the story and how to seamlessly integrate them with all the other cinematic elements.

User-friendly and rewarding for producers, directors, writers, editors, musicians, composers, and sound technicians of every level, as well as students of cinema.


" The need for such a book is great indeed, fulfilled in this obviously heartfelt project."

Gary Rydstrom (Academy award winning sound designer, Terminator 2, Titanic, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan.)

"Here is a book of enormous merit that should prove useful not only to sound editors, but to all film artists and, indeed, anyone who cherishes a good movie."

Richard Walter, Chairman UCLA Screenwriting Dept., Author The Whole Picture: Strategies for Screenwriting Success in the New Hollywood

"A comprehensive guide that any sound professional can't live without."

George Watters II, supervising sound editor, Pearl Harbor, The Hunt for Red October, The Rock, Naked Gun 2

Pro Sound Magazine Review

by Steve Harvey

Sound Design: The Expressive Power of Music, Voice and Sound Effects in Cinema by David Sonnenschein (Michael Wiese Productions; is a fascinating read for anybody who has even a passing interest in the subject. Whether you are considering a career in sound design or film, are already involved and want to improve your skills, or want to learn more about how sound propels a filmís narrative, this book is a must-read.

The author, a musician, writer and director who lectures and consults in sound design for TV and film, and who is involved in interactive media sonification through Sonic Strategies, a company he co-founded, goes way beyond the nuts and bolts of sound design to also explore the perceptual and physiological effects of sound. Stemming from Sonnenscheinís neurobiology undergraduate work at UC San Diego, the research informs his own unique approach to sound design and has also led him to an interest in the creation of therapeutic sound.

A constant thread throughout Sonnenscheinís thesis is his plea that sound designerís be invited into the inner circle with the director, sound editor and music composer as early as possible in a projectís life, preferably from the very start, the better to reinforce the story. A film can only be enhanced by the application at the projectís inception of even just a few of the ideas presented in this book.

Exploring the emotional and physical perception of music, voice and sound, the author offers listening techniques and exercises to stimulate the imagination and for the creation of a sound design that takes the explicit and implicit sound cues of a script and strengthens its emotional impact. From the initial Ďrealtimeí reading of the written words through the drafting of a sound map to the final mix and print mastering, Sonnenschein offers a thorough exploration of every aspect of the process, with the help of real world commentary from sound designers such as Dane Davis (The Matrix), Gary Rydstrom (Artificial Intelligence and George Watters II (Pearl Harbor).

Sound is a frequently misunderstood aspect of film production. As any sound designer knows, budget, scheduling and political considerations can often mean that he or she is not called in until after the picture is edited. But the next time you watch a particularly dramatic scene, turn the sound off. Energy, tension and emotion all evaporate. As Sonnenschein points out, thatís the power of sound.