Sound design
Sound design is the process of specifying, acquiring, manipulating or generating audio elements. It is employed in a variety of disciplines including filmmaking
Filmmaking is the process of making a film, from an initial story, idea, or commission, through scriptwriting, casting, shooting, directing, editing, and screening the finished product before an audience that may result in a theatrical release or television program...

, television production, theatre
Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance...

, sound recording and reproduction
Sound recording and reproduction
Sound recording and reproduction is an electrical or mechanical inscription and re-creation of sound waves, such as spoken voice, singing, instrumental music, or sound effects. The two main classes of sound recording technology are analog recording and digital recording...

, live performance
Live performance
live performance may refer to:*A play or musical*A concert, a live performance before an audience*A dance performance, dance performed for an audience.*Live radio, radio broadcast without delay...

, sound art
Sound art
Sound art is a diverse group of art practices that considers wide notions of sound, listening and hearing as its predominant focus. There are often distinct relationships forged between the visual and aural domains of art and perception by sound artists....

, post-production
Post-production is part of filmmaking and the video production process. It occurs in the making of motion pictures, television programs, radio programs, advertising, audio recordings, photography, and digital art...

 and video game software development. Sound design most commonly involves the manipulation of previously composed or recorded audio, such as music and sound effects. In some instances it may also involve the composition or manipulation of audio to create a desired effect or mood. A sound designer is one who practices the art of sound design.


The use of sound to evoke emotion, reflect mood and underscore actions in plays and dances began in prehistoric times. At its earliest, it was used in religious practices for healing or just for fun. In ancient Japan, theatrical events called kagura
- Fictional characters :*Kagura Tsuchimiya, the protagonist of Ga-rei*Kagura, an InuYasha character*Kagura Sohma , a Fruits Basket character*Kagura, an Azumanga Daioh character*Ten'nōzu Kagura, a Speed Grapher character...

were performed in Shinto shrines with music and dance.

Plays were performed in medieval times in a form of theatre called Commedia dell'arte
Commedia dell'arte
Commedia dell'arte is a form of theatre characterized by masked "types" which began in Italy in the 16th century, and was responsible for the advent of the actress and improvised performances based on sketches or scenarios. The closest translation of the name is "comedy of craft"; it is shortened...

, which used music and sound effects to enhance performances. The use of music and sound in the Elizabethan Theatre
English Renaissance theatre
English Renaissance theatre, also known as early modern English theatre, refers to the theatre of England, largely based in London, which occurred between the Reformation and the closure of the theatres in 1642...

 followed, in which music and sound effects were produced off stage using devices such as bells, whistles, and horns. Cues would be written in the script for music and sound effects to be played at the appropriate time.

Italian composer Luigi Russolo
Luigi Russolo
Luigi Russolo was an Italian Futurist painter and composer, and the author of the manifesto The Art of Noises . He is often regarded as one of the first noise music experimental composers with his performances of "noise concerts" in 1913-14 and then again after World War I, notably in Paris in 1921...

 built mechanical sound-making devices, called intonarumori, for futurist
Futurism (music)
Futurism was a 20th century movement in art which encompassed painting, sculpture, poetry, theatre, music, architecture and gastronomy. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti initiated the movement in his Manifesto of Futurism, published in February 1909. Futurist music rejected tradition and introduced...

 theatrical and music performances starting around 1913. These devices were meant to simulate natural and man-made sounds, such as trains and bombs. Russolo's treatise, The Art of Noises
The Art of Noises
The Art of Noises is a Futurist manifesto, written by Luigi Russolo in a 1913 letter to friend and Futurist composer Francesco Balilla Pratella...

, is one of the earliest written documents on the use of abstract noise in the theatre. After his death, his intonarumori were used in more conventional theatre performances to create realistic sound effects.

Recorded sound

Possibly the first use of recorded sound in the theatre was a phonograph playing a baby’s cry in a London theatre in 1890. Sixteen years later, Herbert Beerbohm Tree
Herbert Beerbohm Tree
Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree was an English actor and theatre manager.Tree began performing in the 1870s. By 1887, he was managing the Haymarket Theatre, winning praise for adventurous programming and lavish productions, and starring in many of its productions. In 1899, he helped fund the...

 used recordings in his London production of Stephen Phillips’ tragedy NERO. The event is marked in the Theatre Magazine (1906) with two photographs; one showing a musician blowing a bugle into a large horn attached to a disc recorder, the other with an actor recording the agonizing shrieks and groans of the tortured martyrs. The article states: “these sounds are all realistically reproduced by the gramophone”. As cited by Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht was a German poet, playwright, and theatre director.An influential theatre practitioner of the 20th century, Brecht made equally significant contributions to dramaturgy and theatrical production, the latter particularly through the seismic impact of the tours undertaken by the...

, there was a play about Rasputin written in (1927) by Alexej Tolstoi and directed by Erwin Piscator
Erwin Piscator
Erwin Friedrich Maximilian Piscator was a German theatre director and producer and, with Bertolt Brecht, the foremost exponent of epic theatre, a form that emphasizes the socio-political content of drama, rather than its emotional manipulation of the audience or on the production's formal...

 that included a recording of Lenin's voice. It would not be however until the 1950s, when Hollywood director
Film director
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film's artistic and dramatic nathan roach, while guiding the technical crew and actors.-Responsibilities:...

s started directing Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

 productions, that sound design would start growing. Still, there was no sound designer in those plays; it was the stage manager
Stage management
Stage management is the practice of organizing and coordinating a theatrical production. It encompasses a variety of activities, including organizing the production and coordinating communications between various personnel...

's duty to find the sound effect
Sound effect
For the album by The Jam, see Sound Affects.Sound effects or audio effects are artificially created or enhanced sounds, or sound processes used to emphasize artistic or other content of films, television shows, live performance, animation, video games, music, or other media...

s and an electrician
An electrician is a tradesman specializing in electrical wiring of buildings, stationary machines and related equipment. Electricians may be employed in the installation of new electrical components or the maintenance and repair of existing electrical infrastructure. Electricians may also...

 played the recordings during performances. But even though the sound designer has basically assumed these roles, time and technology have not ruled out non-sound designers having a hand in sound production. For instance, since today's audiences are savvier and can readily distinguish between live and recorded sounds, live backstage sound effects are still used (e.g. gun shots) by the stage manager (or assistant stage manager) for premium "aural illusion".

Between 1980 and 1988, Charlie Richmond, USITT's first Sound Design Commissioner, oversaw efforts of their Sound Design Commission
Sound Design Commission
The Sound Design Commission is a society which assists and promotes theatrical technical professions in the United States. It is one of the newest Commissions created by the USITT within their working groups...

 to define the duties, responsibilities, standards and procedures which might normally be expected of a theatre sound designer in North America. This subject is still regularly discussed by that group, but during that time, substantial conclusions were drawn and he wrote a document which, although now somewhat dated, provides a succinct record of what was expected at that time. It was subsequently provided to both the ADC and David Goodman at the Florida USA local when they were both planning to represent sound designers in the 1990s.

Digital technology

Musical Instrument Digital Interface
MIDI is an industry-standard protocol, first defined in 1982 by Gordon Hall, that enables electronic musical instruments , computers and other electronic equipment to communicate and synchronize with each other...

 and digital
A digital system is a data technology that uses discrete values. By contrast, non-digital systems use a continuous range of values to represent information...

 technology helped to drive the rapid evolution of sound design during the 1980s and 1990s. Features of computerized theatre sound design systems were recognized as being essential for live show control
Show control
Show control is the use of automation technology to link together and operate multiple entertainment control systems in a coordinated manner. It is distinguished from entertainment control , which coordinates elements within a single entertainment discipline such as lighting, sound, video, rigging...

 systems at Walt Disney World and, as a result, Disney utilized systems of that type to control many facilities at their Disney-MGM Studios
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney's Hollywood Studios is a theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort. Spanning 135 acres in size, its theme is show business, drawing inspiration from the heyday of Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s...

theme park, which opened in 1989. These features were incorporated into the MIDI Show Control
MIDI Show Control
MIDI Show Control, or MSC, is a significant Real Time System Exclusive extension of the international Musical Instrument Digital Interface standard...

 (MSC) specification, an open communications protocol
Communications protocol
A communications protocol is a system of digital message formats and rules for exchanging those messages in or between computing systems and in telecommunications...

 used to interact with diverse devices. The first show to fully utilize the MSC specification was the Magic Kingdom Parade
Magic Kingdom Parade
The Magic Kingdom Parade is a large theatrical presentation at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World which dates back to the beginning of the theme park....

 at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom Park is one of four theme parks at the Walt Disney World Resort located near Orlando, Florida. The first park built at the resort, Magic Kingdom opened Oct. 1, 1971. Designed and built by WED Enterprises, the park's layout and attractions are similar to Disneyland in Anaheim, California...

 in September, 1991.

Also, the World Wide Web
World Wide Web
The World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet...

 has greatly enhanced the ability of sound designers to acquire source material quickly, easily and cheaply. Nowadays, a designer can preview and download crisper, more "believable" sounds as opposed to toiling through time- and budget-draining "shot-in-the-dark" searches through record stores, libraries and "the grapevine" for (often) inferior recordings. In addition, software innovation has enabled sound designers to take more of a DIY (or "do-it-yourself") approach. From the comfort of their home and at any hour, they can simply use a computer, speakers and headphones rather than renting (or buying) costly equipment or studio space and time for editing and mixing. This provides for faster creation and negotiation with the director.


In motion picture production, a Sound Designer is a member of a film crew
Film crew
Television crew positions are derived from those of film crew positions.A film crew is a group of people hired by a production company for the purpose of producing a film or motion picture. Crew are distinguished from cast, the Actors who appear in front of the camera or provide voices for...

 responsible for some original aspect of the film's audio. In the American film industry
Cinema of the United States
The cinema of the United States, also known as Hollywood, has had a profound effect on cinema across the world since the early 20th century. Its history is sometimes separated into four main periods: the silent film era, classical Hollywood cinema, New Hollywood, and the contemporary period...

, the title of Sound Designer is not controlled by any industry organization, unlike titles such Director
Film director
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film's artistic and dramatic nathan roach, while guiding the technical crew and actors.-Responsibilities:...

 or Screenwriter
Screenwriters or scriptwriters or scenario writers are people who write/create the short or feature-length screenplays from which mass media such as films, television programs, Comics or video games are based.-Profession:...


The terms sound design and Sound Designer were introduced to the film world in 1972. The title of Sound Designer was first granted to Walter Murch
Walter Murch
Walter Scott Murch is an American film editor and sound designer.-Early life:Murch was born in New York City, New York, the son of Katharine and Canadian-born Walter Tandy Murch , a painter. He went to The Collegiate School, a private preparatory school in Manhattan, from 1949 to 1961...

 by Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. He is widely acclaimed as one of Hollywood's most innovative and influential film directors...

 in recognition for Murch's extraordinary contributions to the film Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American war film set during the Vietnam War, produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The central character is US Army special operations officer Captain Benjamin L. Willard , of MACV-SOG, an assassin sent to kill the renegade and presumed insane Special Forces...

. The original meaning of the title Sound Designer, as established by Coppola and Murch, was "an individual ultimately responsible for all aspects of a film's audio track, from the dialogue
Dialogue is a literary and theatrical form consisting of a written or spoken conversational exchange between two or more people....

 and sound effects recording to the re-recording
Re-recording (sound/film)
Re-recording is the process by which the audio track of a film or video production is created. As sound elements are mixed and combined together the process necessitates "re-recording" all of the audio elements, such as dialogue, music, sound effects, by the sound re-recording mixer to achieve the...

 (mix) of the final track". The position of Sound Designer emerged in a manner similar to that of Production Designer
Production designer
In film and television, a production designer is the person responsible for the overall look of a filmed event such as films, TV programs, music videos or adverts. Production designers have one of the key creative roles in the creation of motion pictures and television. Working directly with the...

, which was created in the 1930s when William Cameron Menzies
William Cameron Menzies
William Cameron Menzies was an Academy Award-winning American film production designer and art director who also worked as a director, producer, and screenwriter during a career spanning five decades...

 made revolutionary contributions to the craft of art direction
Art director
The art director is a person who supervise the creative process of a design.The term 'art director' is a blanket title for a variety of similar job functions in advertising, publishing, film and television, the Internet, and video games....

 in the making of Gone with the Wind
Gone with the Wind (film)
Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American historical epic film adapted from Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel of the same name. It was produced by David O. Selznick and directed by Victor Fleming from a screenplay by Sidney Howard...


The sound designer is a principal member of the production staff, with creative authority equal to that of the film editor and director of photography. Several factors led to the promotion of sound design to this level:
  • Cinema
    Movie theater
    A movie theater, cinema, movie house, picture theater, film theater is a venue, usually a building, for viewing motion pictures ....

     sound system
    Sound reinforcement system
    A sound reinforcement system is the combination of microphones, signal processors, amplifiers, and loudspeakers that makes live or pre-recorded sounds louder and may also distribute those sounds to a larger or more distant audience...

    s became capable of high-fidelity reproduction, particularly after the adoption of Dolby Stereo
    Dolby Stereo
    Dolby Stereo, is the trade mark that Dolby Laboratories used for the various analogue stereo cinema sound formats that they produced.Two basic systems used this name. The first was the 'Dolby SVA' system used with optical soundtracks on 35mm film...

    . These systems were originally devised as gimmicks to increase theater attendance, but their widespread implementation created a content vacuum that had to be filled by competent professionals. Before stereo soundtracks, film sound was of such low fidelity that only the dialogue and occasional sound effects were practical. The greater dynamic range of the new systems, coupled with the ability to produce sounds at the sides or behind the audience, required more creativity.

  • Directors wanted to realize the new potentials of the medium. A new generation of filmmakers, the so-called "Easy Riders and Raging Bulls"—Martin Scorsese
    Martin Scorsese
    Martin Charles Scorsese is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, and film historian. In 1990 he founded The Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to film preservation, and in 2007 he founded the World Cinema Foundation...

    , Steven Spielberg
    Steven Spielberg
    Steven Allan Spielberg KBE is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur. In a career of more than four decades, Spielberg's films have covered many themes and genres. Spielberg's early science-fiction and adventure films were seen as an...

    , George Lucas
    George Lucas
    George Walton Lucas, Jr. is an American film producer, screenwriter, and director, and entrepreneur. He is the founder, chairman and chief executive of Lucasfilm. He is best known as the creator of the space opera franchise Star Wars and the archaeologist-adventurer character Indiana Jones...

    , and others—were aware of the creative potential of sound and wanted to use it.

  • Filmmakers were inspired by the popular music
    Popular music
    Popular music belongs to any of a number of musical genres "having wide appeal" and is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. It stands in contrast to both art music and traditional music, which are typically disseminated academically or orally to smaller, local...

     of the era. Concept albums of groups such as Pink Floyd
    Pink Floyd
    Pink Floyd were an English rock band that achieved worldwide success with their progressive and psychedelic rock music. Their work is marked by the use of philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative album art, and elaborate live shows. Pink Floyd are one of the most commercially...

     and The Beatles
    The Beatles
    The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

     suggested new modes of storytelling and creative techniques that could be adapted to motion pictures.

  • New filmmakers made their early films outside the Hollywood establishment
    The Establishment
    The Establishment is a term used to refer to a visible dominant group or elite that holds power or authority in a nation. The term suggests a closed social group which selects its own members...

    , away from the influence of film labor unions and the then rapidly-dissipating studio system
    Studio system
    The studio system was a means of film production and distribution dominant in Hollywood from the early 1920s through the early 1960s. The term studio system refers to the practice of large motion picture studios producing movies primarily on their own filmmaking lots with creative personnel under...


The role of sound designer can be compared with the role of supervising sound editor; many sound designers use both titles interchangeably. The role of supervising sound editor, or sound supervisor, developed in parallel with the role of sound designer. The demand for more sophisticated soundtracks was felt both inside and outside Hollywood, and the supervising sound editor became the head of the large sound department, with a staff of dozens of sound editors, that was required to realize a complete sound job with a fast turnaround. It is far from universal, but the role of sound supervisor descends from the original role of the sound editor, that of a technician required to complete a film, but having little creative authority. Sound designers, on the other hand, are expected to be creative, and their role is a generalization of the other creative department heads.


Sound design, as a separate discipline, is one of the youngest fields in stagecraft
Stagecraft is a generic term referring to the technical aspects of theatrical, film, and video production. It includes, but is not limited to, constructing and rigging scenery, hanging and focusing of lighting, design and procurement of costumes, makeup, procurement of props, stage management, and...

, second only to the use of projection and other multimedia
Multimedia is media and content that uses a combination of different content forms. The term can be used as a noun or as an adjective describing a medium as having multiple content forms. The term is used in contrast to media which use only rudimentary computer display such as text-only, or...

 displays, although the ideas and techniques of sound design have been around almost since theatre started. Dan Dugan
Dan Dugan (audio engineer)
Dan Dugan is an American audio engineer, inventor, and nature sounds recordist. He was the first person to be called a sound designer, and he developed the first effective automatic microphone mixer: the automixer.-Early career:...

, working with three stereo tape decks routed to ten loudspeaker zones during the 1968–69 season of American Conservatory Theater
American Conservatory Theater
American Conservatory Theater is a large non-profit theater company in San Francisco, California, that offers both classical and contemporary theater productions. A.C.T. was founded in 1965 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Playhouse and Carnegie Tech by theatre and...

 (ACT) in San Francisco, was the first person to be called a sound designer.

Modern audio technology has enabled theatre sound designers to produce flexible, complex, and inexpensive designs that can be easily integrated into live performance. The influence of film and television on playwriting is seeing plays being written increasingly with shorter scenes, which is difficult to achieve with scenery but easily conveyed with sound. The development of film sound design is giving writers and directors higher expectations and knowledge of sound design. Consequently, conceptual sound design is widespread and accomplished sound designers commonly establish long-term collaborations with directors.

Technical vs. conceptual design

There are two variants of theatrical sound design, technical and conceptual, which both came into existence in the 1960s. Often a single person will perform both of these functions. In practice, these terms are not used in job titles; most sound designers are simply titled Sound Designer regardless of the type of design practiced. Both the technical and the conceptual sound designers are tasked with ensuring that the sound and music enhance the production and are in harmony with the work of the actors and other designers.

Technical design
Technical sound design comprises the design and implementation of a sound system
Sound reinforcement system
A sound reinforcement system is the combination of microphones, signal processors, amplifiers, and loudspeakers that makes live or pre-recorded sounds louder and may also distribute those sounds to a larger or more distant audience...

 that will fulfill the needs of the production. If a sound system is already installed in the performance venue, it is the sound designer's job to tune the system for the best use for a particular production. Sound system tuning employs various methods including equalization
Equalization (audio)
Equalization is the process commonly used in sound recording and reproduction to alter the frequency response of an audio system using linear filters. Most hi-fi equipment uses relatively simple filters to make bass and treble adjustments. Graphic and parametric equalizers have much more...

, delay, volume, speaker and microphone
A microphone is an acoustic-to-electric transducer or sensor that converts sound into an electrical signal. In 1877, Emile Berliner invented the first microphone used as a telephone voice transmitter...

 placement, and in some cases, the addition of new equipment. In conjunction with the director and musical director, if any, the technical sound designer determines the use and placement of microphones for actors and musicians. The technical sound designer ensures that the performance can be heard and understood by everyone in the audience, regardless of the shape, size or acoustics of the venue, and that performers can hear everything needed to enable them to do their jobs. Technical sound design is also called theatre sound system design by the United States Institute for Theatre Technology's (USITT) Sound Design Commission
Sound Design Commission
The Sound Design Commission is a society which assists and promotes theatrical technical professions in the United States. It is one of the newest Commissions created by the USITT within their working groups...


Conceptual design
Conceptual sound design involves the selection of music and sounds for a production based on intimate familiarity with the play. The conceptual sound designer and the production's director work together to decide the themes and messages to be explored. Based on this, the conceptual sound designer, in collaboration with the director and possibly the composer, decides upon the sounds that will be used to create the desired moods. In some productions, the sound designer might be granted the artistic choice of using existing music or composing new music for the production, though this decision most often lies with the director. On occasion, the director may dictate the sounds to use and where to play them; in such cases, the sound designer serves as little more than an audio editor. Some productions might use music only during scene changes, while at the other extreme, a production might specify ambient "sound beds" under every scene. The latter is exemplified by productions directed by Robert Woodruff
Robert Woodruff (director)
Robert Woodruff is an American theater director.-Early life:Woodruff graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude from the University at Buffalo in political science. He has a masters degree in theater arts from San Francisco State University...

 of the American Repertory Theater or Bill Ball
William Ball (stage director)
William Gormaly Ball was an American stage director and founder of the American Conservatory Theatre . He was awarded the Drama Desk Vernon Rice Award in 1959 for his production of Chekhov's Ivanov and was nominated for a Tony Award in 1965 for his production of Molière's Tartuffe, starring...

, Ellis Rabb
Ellis Rabb
Ellis Rabb was an American actor and director who in 1959 formed the Association of Producing Artists, a theatre company that brought new works and noteworthy revivals to Broadway and to regional theatres...

 and Jack O'Brien
Jack O'Brien (director)
Jack O'Brien is an American director, producer, writer and lyricist. He served as the Artistic Director of the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California from 1981 through the end of 2007....

, who were active at ACT and the Old Globe Theatre
Old Globe Theatre
The Old Globe is a professional theatre company located in Balboa Park in San Diego, California. It produces about 15 plays and musicals annually in summer and winter seasons...

 in the mid 1960s, where Dan Dugan initially began his art. Many sound designers are accomplished composers, writing and producing music for productions as well as designing sound. Conceptual sound design is also called theatre sound score design by the USITT.

Professional organizations

  • The Association of Sound Designers is a trade association representing theatre sound designers in the UK.
  • United Scenic Artists (USA) Local USA829, which is integrated within IATSE, represents theatrical non-Broadway sound designers in the United States.
  • Sound Designers who work on productions falling under Broadway League contracts are represented by IATSE Local One.
  • Theatrical Sound Designers in English Canada are represented by the Associated Designers of Canada (ADC), and in Québec by l'Association des professionnels des arts du Québec (APASQ).


In contemporary music, especially rock music
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...

, ambient music
Ambient music
Ambient music is a musical genre that focuses largely on the timbral characteristics of sounds, often organized or performed to evoke an "atmospheric", "visual" or "unobtrusive" quality.- History :...

, progressive rock
Progressive rock
Progressive rock is a subgenre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s as part of a "mostly British attempt to elevate rock music to new levels of artistic credibility." John Covach, in Contemporary Music Review, says that many thought it would not just "succeed the pop of...

, and similar genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...

s, the record producer
Record producer
A record producer is an individual working within the music industry, whose job is to oversee and manage the recording of an artist's music...

 and recording engineer play important roles in the creation of the overall sound (or soundscape
A soundscape is a sound or combination of sounds that forms or arises from an immersive environment. The study of soundscape is the subject of acoustic ecology...

) of a recording, and less often, of a live performance. The record producer
Record producer
A record producer is an individual working within the music industry, whose job is to oversee and manage the recording of an artist's music...

 is chiefly responsible for extracting the best performance possible from the musicians and for making both musical and technical decisions about the instrumental timbres, arrangements, etc. On certain ambitious and complex recording projects, artists and producers have relied on sonic consultants, often credited as "sound designer", to help them to create specific auditory effects, landscapes, or to ensure an overall consistency and quality of some of the (usually unconventional) sonic elements. In such arrangements, the producer may put almost all of his or her attention on managing the recording session and working closely with the musicians on their performances and interpretations of the material; the recording engineer may dedicate all of his or her time to capturing these performances on tape (or hard disk); the sound designer may then help to create the overall sound, the integration of recording technology with musical instrument technology, the presentation that is the phonographic equivalent of decisions in movie-making about what type of lens to use on the camera, whether or not to use soft focus, and what kind of lighting to use on a scene.

In applied research in electrostatics and computer programming for contemporary music or electronic music, the Sound Designer is a specialist who is usually there to help the composer to do the electroacoustic portion of the composition. Often, the composer comes with an idea (concept + score) and the Sound Designer assists the composer with new technology and unique equipment. Examples include sound synthesis, interaction between acoustic instruments and computers, realization of a computer program in many different languages (often Max-MSP/Jitter), gesture capture with sensors or cameras, video treatment and interaction between video and sound. Historically, the Sound Designer was often called the "Musical Assistant".
Some of the many examples of research centers working with Sound Designers include Forum Neues Musiktheater of Stuttgart, IRCAM in Paris or synArt in Antibes.

Notable examples of sound design are the contributions of Michael Brook
Michael Brook
Michael Brook is a Canadian guitarist, inventor, producer, and film music composer. He plays in many genres, including rock, electronica, world music, minimalism and film scores....

 to the U2
U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin. Formed in 1976, the group consists of Bono , The Edge , Adam Clayton , and Larry Mullen, Jr. . U2's early sound was rooted in post-punk but eventually grew to incorporate influences from many genres of popular music...

 album The Joshua Tree
The Joshua Tree
The Joshua Tree is the fifth studio album by rock band U2. It was produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, and was released on 9 March 1987 on Island Records. In contrast to the ambient experimentation of their 1984 release The Unforgettable Fire, U2 aimed for a harder-hitting sound on The Joshua...

, George Massenburg
George Massenburg
George Y. Massenburg is a recording engineer and inventor. Working principally in Baltimore, Los Angeles, Nashville, and Macon, Georgia, Massenburg is widely known for his 1972 paper on the parametric equalizer.-Background:...

 to the Jennifer Warnes
Jennifer Warnes
Jennifer Jean Warnes is an American singer, songwriter, arranger and record producer. She is known for her interpretations of compositions written by herself and many others, as well as an extensive playlist as a vocalist on movie soundtracks.Between 1979 and 1987 Warnes surpassed Frank Sinatra as...

 album Famous Blue Raincoat
Famous Blue Raincoat
"Famous Blue Raincoat" is a song by Leonard Cohen. It is the sixth track on his third album, Songs of Love and Hate, released in 1971.-Summary:...

, Chris Thomas
Chris Thomas (record producer)
Chris Thomas is an English record producer who has worked extensively with The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Roxy Music, Badfinger, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Pulp and The Pretenders. He has also produced breakthrough albums for The Sex Pistols and INXS.Thomas is quoted as saying -Early life:Thomas was...

 to the Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd were an English rock band that achieved worldwide success with their progressive and psychedelic rock music. Their work is marked by the use of philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative album art, and elaborate live shows. Pink Floyd are one of the most commercially...

 album The Dark Side of the Moon
The Dark Side of the Moon
The Dark Side of the Moon is the eighth studio album by English progressive rock band Pink Floyd, released in March 1973. It built on ideas explored in the band's earlier recordings and live shows, but lacks the extended instrumental excursions that characterised their work following the departure...

, and Brian Eno
Brian Eno
Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno , commonly known as Brian Eno or simply as Eno , is an English musician, composer, record producer, singer and visual artist, known as one of the principal innovators of ambient music.Eno studied at Colchester Institute art school in Essex,...

 to the Paul Simon
Paul Simon
Paul Frederic Simon is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist.Simon is best known for his success, beginning in 1965, as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, with musical partner Art Garfunkel. Simon wrote most of the pair's songs, including three that reached number one on the US singles...

 album Surprise
Surprise (Paul Simon album)
Surprise is the eleventh studio album by American musician Paul Simon, released in May 2006.-History:After the relative success of You're the One, which was released in late 2000 finding Simon back to the Top 20 of the American charts after ten years of absence and also receiving a Grammy...


Computer applications and other applications

Generation and manipulation of sound elements is widely used in a variety of human-computer interfaces, in computer games and video games. Almost all large productions have one or a few sound designers. Without these sound designers, the audio of the production would not be as rich and realistic to the audience.


Sound designers have been recognized by awards organizations for some time, and new awards have emerged more recently in response to advances in sound design technology and quality. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a professional honorary organization dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures...

 recognizes the finest or most aesthetic sound design for a film with the Best Sound Editing. In 2007, the Tony Award for Best Sound Design
Tony Award for Best Sound Design
The first Tony Award for "Best Sound Design of a Play" and "Best Sound Design of a Musical" was given in the 2007-2008 season.-2000s:*2008: Mic Pool – The 39 Steps**Simon Baker – Boeing-Boeing**Adam Cork – Macbeth...

 was created to honor the best sound design in American theatre.

North American theatrical award organizations that recognize sound designers include these:
  • Dora Mavor Moore Awards
  • Drama Desk Awards
  • Helen Hayes Awards
    Helen Hayes Awards Resident Design
    These Helen Hayes Awards are given annually for excellence in production design for professional theatres in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. These awards are given only for resident productions.-Outstanding Choreography in a Resident Production:...

  • Obie Awards
  • Tony Awards

Major British award organizations include the Olivier Awards.

See also

  • Audio engineering
    Audio engineering
    An audio engineer, also called audio technician, audio technologist or sound technician, is a specialist in a skilled trade that deals with the use of machinery and equipment for the recording, mixing and reproduction of sounds. The field draws on many artistic and vocational areas, including...

  • Director of audiography
    Director of audiography
    The Director of Audiography is the head of the sound department and the person responsible for planning the audiography and managing the audiographers of a film....

  • List of sound designers
  • Musique concrète
    Musique concrète
    Musique concrète is a form of electroacoustic music that utilises acousmatic sound as a compositional resource. The compositional material is not restricted to the inclusion of sounds derived from musical instruments or voices, nor to elements traditionally thought of as "musical"...

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.