Today we’ll be touching on the interactive side with this months Featured Sound Designer David Sonnenschein regarding his Sonic Strategies: Animal Sounds Memory Game.
This is one of many Sound Games to be created by Sonnenschein that open ears and minds to hearing the world in new ways. Focusing on the neurobiology of audiovisual input and memory, the game draws upon film and music theory, and provides one of the cornerstones for creating story, character and emotion with audio. It uses the memory flip-card model as one example of gameplay.
This game challenges the player to move from visual to audio awareness and memory in four variations that gradually bridge one sensory input (sight) to another (hearing). See how fast you can complete each level, and how many cards you need to turn over each time. How does your performance compare when aided by sight and/or hearing?
Have fun! See if your friends have the same or different experience. This is the first of many Sound Games to come that will open your ears and mind to hearing the world in new ways and learning to create story, character and emotion with audio.
What follows is an discussion between myself (DK) and David Sonnenschein (DS) on the topic of sound interactivity and the work he is doing to further our understanding of how we related to the world around us with sound.
This is part 2 of the conversation David and I had about aesthetics. Part 1 can be found here.
Designing Sound: So, we’ve been talking about ways to identify and develop your own personal aesthetic. I’m just wondering, do you feel it’s important to track changes in your personal style over the years? Is it beneficial to consider how your aesthetic has changed over the course of your career?
David: It’s been an interesting observation. I’ve made intentional changes from being a classical musician, to one that can improvise. That’s one of the major changes, stylistically, for me. But more than just style, it’s been a way of training my ear/finger coordination as a musician, not just eye/finger coordination. While being a very strong sight-reader and classical musician, that shift opened me up stylistically to many things that would have been “wrong” as a classical musician. It allowed things to come in as not “wrong or right,” but interesting…and an exploration of different ways to make sounds with the same kind of instrument. That was one tracking that I did.
The other went beyond even the Western ear, and was listening to other cultures. Listening to the speech of other cultures, their musical scales…getting used to the micro-tonal scales of India and Bali…the use of “beat frequencies” in Balinese music that helps induce the trance in their dance and masked dramas. Those things influenced me and influenced my styles. I’m noticing that I may come full circle and come back to explorations and styles, and they now have a richer contribution to what I can do.
David and I sat down for another interview, this time to talk about aesthetics and personal style. We tried to focus on a discussion of one’s personal stylistic approach in the contexts of self-development and collaboration. It was a long and interesting discussion, so I’m going to break this up into two posts. Here’s part 1 of the transcript…
Designing Sound: I wanted to take the opportunity to talk with you this month about aesthetics: developing a personal style, and meshing that style with other peoples’ in a collaborative project. I thought you could bring into scope some interesting perspective for our readers, since you have experience as a sound designer, a producer, a director and a writer.
David Sonnenschein: It’s really a very specific role that most sound designers take in a project, where they’re serving a bigger vision than their own personal aesthetic. How does that work so that you can collaborate well, so that you can get the jobs and so that you can have some room for creativity? I’d also like to touch a bit on the idea of “free reign” and where you might be able to find those open grounds for exploration.
Following up on David’s previous post, the excerpt from his Sound Sphere article, he and I had a conversation over the phone to go into a little more detail. Here’s the full transcript.
David Sonnenschein: So, I know you read the excerpt that was posted for Designing Sound, but have you read the whole article as well? [ed. full article appears in "The New Soundtrack" volume 1, issue 1]
Designing Sound: Yes, I read the whole thing, but it’s been a few days and the two are kind of merging in my mind. If I remember correctly there were a few more examples…
David: Basically, yeah. It has more examples, and it also has a section of applying this model more specifically to film sound. So it was bit more detailed, and there was some exploration of where it could go…some possibilities of expanding it into other arenas. The earlier section was also relating it to previously established models. It just kind of expounds a bit more in an academic way on the whole issue. So, we can just talk about some of those things in general, or specifically if you want to. Or there are other questions you’ve mentioned that are really pertinent. And people can read more in the article itself. It’s available some place else. So I like this idea of talking about it in ways that are a little bit new.
David has offered up an excerpt of his article, “Sound Spheres: A Model of Psychoacoustic Space in Cinema,” to our little community. The full article appears in the Volume 1.1 of The New Soundtrack, available through Edinburgh University Press (an excellent journal that I highly recommend). David and I will be having a phone discussion on Friday about this new model of his, to be transcribed here on DS. So, if you have any questions or feedback about this article, make sure to leave a comment. I’ll do my best to include each one in our conversation.
Genesis of Sound Spheres
As a sound designer, musician and filmmaker, much of my creative work is based on personal experience in the world, based on my own senses. I have spent a great deal of time alone in the wilderness listening to unknown animal calls and finely sculpted natural soundscapes, as well as in foreign countries that offer unexpected sonic reflections of human culture. Through the simple act of listening and observing my own physical, mental and emotional reactions to the surrounding sounds, the stories of these places, people, creatures and events began to coalesce into a pattern. This pattern was drawn from the previous theoretical structures I had learned from studying and creating films (traditional models mentioned above), but extended beyond into this dynamic model that I now call Sound Spheres.