Studying Sound

A Theory and Practice of Sound Design

by Collins

ISBN: 9780262365062 | Copyright 2020

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An introduction to the concepts and principles of sound design practice, with more than 175 exercises that teach readers to put theory into practice.

This book offers an introduction to the principles and concepts of sound design practice, from technical aspects of sound effects to the creative use of sound in storytelling. Most books on sound design focus on sound for the moving image. Studying Sound is unique in its exploration of sound on its own as a medium and rhetorical device. It includes more than 175 exercises that enable readers to put theory into practice as they progress through the chapters.

The book begins with an examination of the distinction between hearing and listening (with exercises to train the ears) and then offers an overview of sound as an acoustic phenomenon. It introduces recording sound, covering basic recording accessories as well as theories about recording and perception; explores such spatial effects as reverberation and echo; and surveys other common digital sound effects, including tremolo, vibrato, and distortion. It introduces the theory and practice of mixing; explains surround and spatial sound; and considers sound and meaning, discussing ideas from semiotics and psychology. Finally, drawing on material presented in the preceding chapters, the book explores in detail using sound to support story, with examples from radio plays, audio dramas, and podcasts. Studying Sound is suitable for classroom use or independent study.

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Contents (pg. v)
Acknowledgments (pg. ix)
Introduction (pg. 1)
Setting Up (pg. 7)
1: Hearing and Listening (pg. 9)
1.1 Talking and Writing about Sound (pg. 10)
1.2 The Ear and the Brain: How We Hear (pg. 17)
1.3 Human Hearing Ability (pg. 24)
1.4 Protecting Your Hearing (pg. 29)
1.5 Headphones Guide (pg. 30)
Reading and Listening Guide (pg. 31)
2: Sound (pg. 33)
2.1 What Is Sound? (pg. 33)
2.2 Frequency (pg. 36)
2.3 Consonance and Dissonance (pg. 43)
2.4 Amplitude (pg. 44)
2.5 Timbre (pg. 46)
2.6 Wave Interference (pg. 50)
2.7 Sound Envelopes (pg. 52)
2.8 Smearing, Rhythm, and Masking (pg. 54)
2.9 Selecting Sounds: Sound Libraries (pg. 55)
2.10 Segues (pg. 59)
2.11 Digital Sounds (pg. 60)
Reading and Listening Guide (pg. 64)
3: Recording Sounds (pg. 67)
3.1 Audio Slating (pg. 67)
3.2 Stereo or Mono Recording? (pg. 68)
3.3 Microphones and Microphone Selection (pg. 69)
3.4 Recording Accessories (pg. 76)
3.5 Microphone Position (pg. 80)
3.6 Creative Recording (pg. 89)
3.7 Prototyping Sounds (pg. 91)
Reading and Listening Guide (pg. 92)
4: Sounds in Space (pg. 93)
4.1 The Doppler Effect (pg. 93)
4.2 Reverberation (pg. 95)
4.3 Absorption and Diffusion (pg. 103)
4.4 Digital Reverberation (pg. 106)
4.5 Echo and Delay (pg. 108)
4.6 Digital Delay (pg. 109)
4.7 Phasing and Flanging Effects (pg. 112)
4.8 Time-Stretching����������������������������������������������������������� (pg. 114)
4.9 Worldizing (pg. 114)
4.10 Setting Up a Recording Space (pg. 116)
Reading and Listening Guide (pg. 117)
5: Sound Effects (pg. 119)
5.1 Tremolo and Vibrato (pg. 119)
5.2 Pitch Shifting and Auto-Tune�������������������������������������������������������� (pg. 121)
5.3 Equalization (pg. 122)
5.4 Filters (pg. 126)
5.5 Modulation: Ring Modulation and Vocoder (pg. 130)
5.6 Distortion: Overdrive and Fuzz (pg. 132)
5.7 Summary and Bonus Exercises (pg. 133)
Reading and Listening Guide (pg. 135)
6: Mixing (pg. 137)
6.1 Mixing Theory: Three-Dimensional Sound�����������������������������������������������������& (pg. 137)
6.2 A Note on Mixing in Audacity (pg. 139)
6.3 Dynamic Range (pg. 141)
6.4 Compression, Limiting, and Normalization (pg. 142)
6.5 Expansion and Gating (pg. 146)
6.6 Ducking (pg. 146)
6.7 Noise Reduction (pg. 147)
6.8 Figure and Ground: Signal to Noise (pg. 148)
6.9 Panning (pg. 150)
6.10 Mixing across Media Devices (pg. 152)
6.11 Technical versus Creative Mixing (pg. 153)
6.12 Point of Audition: Objects in Ears May Be Closer Than They Appear (pg. 154)
6.13 Summary and Further Mixing Exercises (pg. 156)
Reading and Listening Guide (pg. 157)
7: Surround and Spatial Sound (pg. 159)
7.1 Human Sound Localization (pg. 160)
7.2 Binaural Audio (pg. 163)
7.3 In-Head Localization���������������������������������������������������������� (pg. 165)
7.4 Surround Sound (pg. 166)
7.5 Ambisonics and Object-Based Audio������������������������������������������������������&# (pg. 168)
7.6 Spatial Sound (pg. 169)
7.7 Sound Propagation (pg. 170)
Reading and Listening Guide (pg. 173)
8: Sound and Meaning (pg. 175)
8.1 Conditioning (pg. 175)
8.2 Sonic Archetypes, Stereotypes, and Generalizations (pg. 177)
8.3 Basic Semiotic Theory (pg. 179)
8.4 Phenomenology, Embodied Cognition, and Intersensory Integration (pg. 183)
8.5 Summary (pg. 188)
Reading and Listening Guide (pg. 190)
9: Sound for Story (pg. 193)
9.1 Functions of Sound in Audio Story (pg. 194)
9.2 The Mix (pg. 206)
9.3 Audio Research (pg. 207)
9.4 Audio Story Analysis (pg. 208)
9.5 Spotting a Script (pg. 209)
9.6 Cue Sheets (pg. 212)
9.7 The Asset List (pg. 214)
Reading and Listening Guide (pg. 216)
10: Conclusions and Wrap-Up (pg. 217)
10.1 Self-Evaluation����������������������������������������������������������� (pg. 220)
References (pg. 223)
Audiovisual References (pg. 231)
Index (pg. 233)
Karen Collins

Karen Collins

Karen Collins is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Waterloo. She is the author of ten books on sound, including Game Sound and Playing with Sound (both published by the MIT Press), and is the director of the film Beep: A Documentary History of Game Sound.

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