This month’s theme “Sound Language & Lingo” made me think a lot about how the communication went on some of my projects.
Even though there’s some more or less established lingo when it comes to describing sounds & talking about audio with other members of the community, using the same language while discussing audio with clients & collaborators oftentimes simply doesn’t work.
Phrases like “should it have more or less attack” are meaningless to most non-audio people & you’re forced to find other ways to express a point, often falling back to using vocalizations.
Although there might be a clear vision/goal as to how the sounds/music should ideally “sound” at the beginning of a project, there’s sometimes no easy or quick way to bring everyone on the same page. Of course there are common methods like using references or defining a style-guide. But references & guides can be misinterpreted.
It’s a process. If you work with someone for the first time it takes time getting used to each others understanding & use of language when describing sonic qualities.
There have been attempts to define “sound” with words in books like “Sonic Experience”  for instance & some rather incomplete online audio-lingo dictionaries & glossaries. But for me personally non of these seem very practical in day to day use. I’ve even tried directing people to Wikipedia pages about such terms like “timbre” in the hopes that it would make understanding each other easier.
Wouldn’t it be cool if there was an interactive online glossary which you could search with more loose terms/tags like “magic+heal+light” & it would list a range of sonic characteristics that commonly get associated with them, maybe even with links to audio examples? Or maybe the reverse, a tool that lets you feed it some audio clips & it lists up all the characteristics? A place where you could quickly direct someone if things are unclear or just to find inspiration.
I’ve also been pondering the idea of creating some sort of communication cheat sheet with tips about the information I’m interested in when receiving references for example & some general best practices in how communication & feedback should be handled to make a collaboration more effective. In both directions of course.
If you have any other ways that have been useful in streamlining communication about audio & want to share it the community please do so in the comment section!
Holly Early says
I found this article really interesting! Thank-you for sharing.