Categories Menu

Posted by on Mar 1, 2013 | 9 comments

The Intersection of Sound Design and Music

…bonus points if you can figure out the song those two measures on the top staff come from!

This is a conversation topic we see pop every once in a while…the blurring lines between music composition and sound design. When you stop to think about it for a bit, it’s a somewhat predictable occurrence. Many of the tools that modern composers and sound designers use are very similar; often times, exactly the same. As the two disciplines have spent more and more time in the digital realm, and feeding off of tools developed for one another, the pallettes once exclusive to each have turned into a single ocean of possibility. If the potential is shared, where do the boundaries exist? Should we even be concerned about boundaries any longer? What do we have to gain from one another, both technically and aesthetically?

That’s what we’ll be exploring this month of March.

You’ve probably seen it before, and you’ll definitely see it again. That’s right, we encourage guest contributions to the site. Designing Sound is by the community, for the community. If you have something you’d like to share, whether it’s in line with our monthly featured topic or not, why not drop us a line?! Contact – shaun [at] designingsound [dot] org – if you’d like to propose an article, video, or other piece of content. Oh, and next month is going to be devoted to DSP Environments (Max/MSP, PureData, Supercollider, etc.). If you’re a guru in any of those, we definitely would love to have you contribute!


  1. wow, finally!!! Hi Shaun, I guess that this is the main topic with Sound design and I look forward to read and promote your posts



  2. Glad to see this. I’m a composer who reads your blog for sound design inspiration.

    Before that I cut effects for indy films and TV. I found that directors would ask for “sound design here, something creepy.” But I always thought that was better done by score – make the score more “sound designy” instead of the editor cutting in things that may clash with score. As a composer I’ve found I can be more creative with atmospheres, stings, etc. than I was as a sound editor. Though maybe I just wasn’t very good at it. ;)

  3. Good example of atmospheric score as sound design is the beginning of E.T. (“Main Titles” on the soundtrack, bowed cymbals) and much of Drive.

  4. Ohhhh well i’d say ISAM by Amon Tobin bere!

  5. This is an excellent topic and one that I think will get much talk. I am a sound designer myself and often I find myself making music when designing sounds and the other way around. If you think about it, these two fields are one in the same, you are designing, creating music from sounds. but I know that is the root of what we do.

    For example, look at the works of Trent Reznor does and or Diego Stucco, yes 2 completely different artist but they do one common thing, design sounds to make music. In this day and age with the abundance of technology and software being developed, I think designers and composers alike have nothing to lose in using either of these in there creation of audio have it what you will.

    I hope to see more on this topic and that it generates some good dialogue among the community here on DS. Looking forward to seeing more. And by the way, nice layout!!! Really has a streamline look to it now. Keep up the good work as well.

  6. Really looking forward to reading more. I am just really beginning to focus on sound design as a composer. It is a fascinating realm. This should really provide insight to my new found passion.


  7. Hi Shaun,
    I will send this conversation topic to Diego who is in the GRM Tools. He has elaborate some of the wonderful GRM Tools 3. He works on music and sound design both, using the GRM.

  8. Definitely try and get Diego Stocco on board for this topic – His method of creating music is the most innovative I have seen for years. This topic was designed for him. His work is Fantastic.

  9. Good subject. As a Composer/Sound designer who works mostly in theatre, I work in an area where those job descriptions blur and are becoming one. Having done nearly a couple hundred shows up here in Canada, the Sound Designer in theatre will have to do the sfx, program the playback system, sometimes design the sound system, write music, choose ‘found’ music (which is for the most part used without permission due to Grand Rights), record music, rehearse actors with music, design wireless mic rigs, program digital mixing boards for line by line mic muting in musicals, set up com systems, do live foley….

    But for me the fun is to be able to work out music that combines sound design. Just about to work out arrangement for brass and machines (sfx based grooves) for a few Sally Ann band tunes for a Shaw show.

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *