spitfire audio

Sound Design Scrapbook #15

SOUND DESIGN

https://www.asoundeffect.com/randy-thom-screenwriting-for-sound/

I really enjoyed this article from Randy Thom about the use of Sound as a Storytelling tool, especially his thoughts on early collaboration and inspiration for Sound or Visuals coming from one or the other. In Theatre the time scale of creating a show and it’s Sound Design is quite different to film, but we also occasionally come across the same points he raises here, scripts that define sounds very specifically can sometimes be less ‘Sound friendly’ than initially thought. The more evocative stage directions, and especially those that suggest we need to relate the emotion of a certain character to the audience, often prove to be more inspiring.

It brings up a couple of thoughts around devised work and working in rehearsals. I’ve done a lot of designing in rehearsal rooms as I love get inspired in there and throw ideas in. Devising lends itself to that style of process, there are opportunities to experiment and explore ideas with an essence of freedom, we’re creating a piece together from the story level up and from a Sound perspective, we are relatively quick at changing content and trying ideas on the spot, in comparison to say trying to immediately change part of the Set Design. In any process it depends on how a Director would like to use Sound in their rehearsal, but I do think that scripted work can still have this level of exploration, even without specifically scripted sound ideas.

In terms of pre-production phases in Theatre I think it’s perhaps in short workshops where we get the opportunity to offer what Sound Design can be used for to a Writer and Director, sometimes just through conversations, but to be able to try an idea on the fly in front of them, can effect what comes out of the writing too. One example I think of is a show called The White Bike Written by Tamara Von Werthern, Directed by Lily McLeish. I absolutely loved the script before we had begun and Sound would be needed throughout, but after a week long workshop Tamara took the script away and began using sound as an inspiration of what she could allow an audience to feel through the main character, so we came back to it much more on the same page as one another, more descriptive thoughts about how a sound might be affecting the character from her perspective.


BBC PROMS: THE SOUND OF SPACE

BBC Proms are always inspiring but this in particular was awesome to get to hear. I couldn’t get to the live performance, but this is still up for 10 days so wrap your ears around this:

BBC Proms, 2019: The Sound of Space: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0007f52 via @bbciplayer 


MUSIC | AVA - WAVES

I had the pleasure to briefly meet Aisling Brouwer and Anna Phoebe of AVA at the latest Spitfire Audio event recently which led me to their beautiful album Waves. An incredibly powerful mix of Piano, Violin, Percussion, Electronic elements and Soundscapes making such a rich instrumental world in each track.


MUSIC | BON IVER - i,i

The latest in Bon Iver was out this month and it’s been on repeat for a little while now…

The Unreturning Trailer

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of combining two styles work - Theatre and Trailers - and worked on a short score and Sound Design for Frantic Assembly’s The Unreturning trailer.

The show is Directed by Neil Bettles, Designed by Andrzej Goulding, Lighting Designed by Zoe Spurr and Costume Designed by Lily Arnold, an awesome team! I Sound Designed the show and it’s now on a UK tour having just finished at it’s third venue the Liverpool Everyman picking up some great responses. Next up is the Traverse in Edinburgh. It arrives in London in January as part of the second half of the tour, so catch it there if you can. The show is ace and I can’t recommend it enough!

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Here’s the trailer made by Tea Films and a version of the audio seperatly for anyone interested. I used Spitfire Audio’s Chamber Strings, a bit of Omnisphere for the simple synths and percussion and Cinesample’s Tina Guo Acoustic Cello, one of the most playable VST’s I’ve tried!


Scrapbook #7

YOUTUBE

Paul Thomson of Spitfire Audio has started his own Youtube Channel with an offering of some super detailed videos already! Here’s a intricate look at Reverbs…


MUSIC

Olafur Arnalds released his latest album re:member last month and it’s went stright onto my monthly playlist. It’s another beauitful album. He’s also been working with a generative mechanism where his piano plays itself based on the notes he plays initially, looks like it’s triggered from some Ableton fun, you can here it in action on the album and see it in the video below too. Excited to see him and his team live later this year again!


PODCAST

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Tonebenderspodcast.com did a brilliant interview with the award winning sound team behind Arrival, one of my favourite cinematic experiences last year. Check out how Sylvain Bellemare & Bernard Gariépy Strobl work…

Scrapbook #4

MUSIC

Jon Hopkins singularity album out last month has some awesome work on it, check it out on here.

https://open.spotify.com/album/1nvzBC1M3dlCMIxfUCBhlO?si=ZT6mAIsYSdO_TxWrAXlD5Q

THEATRE SOUND

The NY times interviewed the Sound Designers nominated for the newly re-instated Sound Design Tony Award, they all provided some excellent SFX and montages of their shows. I worked as Associate on both Harry Potter and the Cursed Child with Gareth Fry and 1984 with Tom Gibbons, Both are incredibly deserving of the nomination.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/28/theater/tony-awards-sound-design-plays-nominees.html

VST

Spitfire audio have had a change in their Labs Scheme recently. The most recent update sees the beautiful Soft Piano and newly recorded 'Strings' patches with a newly designed user interface. As it's for free, download them here...

https://www.spitfireaudio.com/labs/

Scrapbook 1

MUSIC

Awesome live performance from Homay and Oliver at Spitfire here

The piece 'As Before' was developed from an idea that Homay had conceived a while ago, with her performing on the grand piano and Oliver laying down some live loops using the Spitfire sounds combined with a stereo delay.

I came across this documentary 'The Music of Strangers' led by Yo-Yo Ma which is about the beginnings of the SilkRoad Ensemble a few months back and its very much worth a watch for so many reasons, it delves into a world of musical and cultural collaborations....


FREE PLUGIN

For those familiar with PaulStretch, you might have seen this update to a plugin version of the Extreme time stretching software.

https://www.kvraudio.com/product/paulxstretch-by-xenakios


SILENCE

I supported a Kickstarter campaign for a film called 'In Pursuit of Silence' a few years ago and they recently shared a bunch of 'silence' related articles.. One pointed to a new film called Sancturies of Silence which looks really interesting and it must have been a fun one to be part of.

Also this New Yorker article By Amanda Petrusich, on the world generally getting passively louder...

 

 

 

Spotify (software 1)

Spotify has to be one of my most used pieces of software outside of DAWs and show control. When I was younger I'd buy music in the forms of Tapes and CDs and of course before that it was in all sorts of formats, but over last 20 years we've moved through a world of evolving music services with speed. The internet being a huge game changer in that, and through it came the iTunes Store, Youtube, Amazon music etc and on 7 October 2008 Spotify was released.

I began using Spotify around the time I was studying Theatre Sound in London 2009. Suddenly I had this incredible repository of music at my fingertips for £5 per month (as a student at least, now we’re talking £9.99, still amazing). On my laptop, phone, anywhere... I began using it as a music research tool and for personal listening, slowly it became a way of testing out ideas in rehearsal rooms due to the sheer amount of music on there and the speed with which you can search through it.

Around the time I graduated, I began using it as tool to broaden my musical interests, I’m sure like many others, I can easily end up listening to the same tracks and artists over and over. That's not such a bad thing, but there is so much more available and I wanted to make use of that... Whilst on tour in April 2013 I started making a new playlist each month with a mixture of music I already liked and artists I’d never listened to before, kind of like the ‘discovery weekly’ playlist feature, but more towards albums than single tracks. I'd gather them either from friend's recommendations or maybe just random genres I didn’t know much about. Jump 5 years into the future and I have monthly playlist for almost every month since then. Spotify recently started sending out this neat year in review post to see your listening habits each year.

Listening to the monthly playlists gave me a memory of where I've listened to certain styles or artists. I’ve found myself remembering listening to a track on a bus in Leicester Square when it was raining, cold and it was kind of wintertime a couple of years ago, maybe 2015... so I can jump back through my playlists and pretty quickly find the track or artist. I've found it pretty useful as an alternative way of retaining information.

Back in the rehearsal room I tend to build a playlist for each show I design, sometimes with the Director or Movement Director in a collaborative playlist to give us a place to start thinking about and gathering the musical ideas that could be interesting to try. Which can mean anything from music of the time that a play is set, to music that gives some emotional response to the initial stimulus and ideas. Having said all this, there is so much value in finding music in less obvious places too, I’ve found cds in museums that I would never be able to find on Spotify and the same with Ebay, libraries, charity shops, so it’s always worth keeping an eye out of the box to find something unique and not to be too reliant on online options!

I thought I'd share a few random tracks from the last couple of months which I have particular memories for.

I'd love to know how anyone else goes about there daily listening and how using subscription services is changing the way we work in Theatre. I'm sure there are libraries digitised from CD's, Vinyl collections, itunes store downloads etc all used in different ways.

Theres a lot to say about the future of music services for both composers and listeners, there will undoubtedly be changes coming within the next few years and intiatives like Imogen Heap's Mycelia is one of them, check it out. It's such a big subject abd worthy of its own blog post later!

 

In other news, thanks to the brilliant Vlogs of Christian Henson at Spitfire Audio, I've been playing with the Elgato Streamdeck (A nifty keystroke based shortcut device) and as I'm travelling a lot at the moment, the Arturia KeyStep (32 key small keyboard controller/step sequencer), so will do a bit of a run down of those two soon.

 

Next week I'm hoping to head to a Sound Art exhibition called Sonic Arcade at the Museum of Art and Design here in New York and I'll share some thoughts if I make it!

Happy listening!

P