Sound Project

Sound has changed dramatically since the invention of microphones and personalised listening devices. You can create highly intimate, personal, provocative and powerful soundscapes for a listener to hear.” A ‘soundscape’ is “…an environment of sound with emphasis on the way it is perceived and understood by the individual.” For example, an individual may be responsive to soundscape environments such as a musical compositions and tape montages.

For my ‘Sound Project’ I decided I would create a montage of recorded audio instances of the primary colours from songs and podcasts.

The above illustration (completed with the use of Mockingbird) depicts the timeline of my audio montage.

The above illustration (completed with the use of Mockingbird) depicts the timeline of my audio montage.

The illustration pictured above details the timeline of my soundscape. To begin with, I wanted to get my listener thinking about the question: “what is colour?” I also decided to give the audience a brief introduction to the primary colours that I would be exploring. I then wanted the audience to listen to an audio experience of the colours, red, blue and yellow, and feel the emotions they express. To conclude the short montage, I wanted my listener to reflect on what they had heard; I wanted them to think about how others would experience the expressions of the primary colours.

My sound project begins with a clipping from the Radio Lab podcast ‘Rippin’ the Rainbow a New One’, wherein the presenters Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich ask “What are colours?” The mysterious chime that follows this question invites the listener into a sense of curiosity, wanting to know what the answer will be. As the chime fades out, however, the voice of the podcast presenters fades in to say “colour”. Eva Cassidy singing “colour” from her song True Colours (2003) repeats this, fading out into another voice saying the word again. The voice that I have used for the third repetition of “colour” was discovered accidently. When trying to download the audio from Stephen Fry’s podcast (‘David Hockney and Stephen Fry discuss the language of colour’), I copied the URL of the webpage and pasted it into an online converter to save the audio on my computer as an MP3 file. When I opened the file in Audacity I discovered that the audio I had converted wasn’t Stephen Fry’s podcast, it was the words that were typed on the webpage itself. To conclude the repetition of the word “colour” I faded in an instrumental section of ‘True Colours’ and then slowly faded it out. The purpose of the repetition and the calming instrumental piece was to establish the tone of my sound project. I wanted the audience to have an echo of what my montage was exploring instilled in their minds, whilst immersing themselves into a reflective sense.

This screenshot highlights the sound waves of the opening segment of my audio montage (as described above).

This screenshot highlights the sound waves of the opening segment of my audio montage (as described above).

As I had realised earlier that I had not converted Stephen Fry’s podcast into an accessible medium, I used my mobile phone to record David Hockney saying: “…red, blue and yellow – the primary colours – which for me are […] very harmonious and they are admired for it, but…” This clip from the podcast acts as the segment in my montage. I wanted to change the pace of my sound project and allow the listeners to have three specific colours in mind that were to be explored. David Hockney’s statement slows down the tempo of the montage thus far.

I downloaded a fast paced, upbeat and motivating composition that gradually builds in intensity by Alex Plowright, titled Charity, that fades in slowly after David Hockney’s statement. The disjointed effect this has within the soundscape montage directs the audience to a position where they are anxiously awaiting the explanation of the aforementioned statement. Layered over the top of Plowright’s composition is a section of Taylor Swift’s song Red (2012): “…but loving him was red…” Taylor Swift’s Red then fades out as Roxanne by The Police (1978) fades in with “…Roxanne, you don’t have to put on a red light…” and slowly fades out with an intimate instrumental piece from within the song.

The above screenshot depicts the disjointed effect created by the contrast of David Hockney's statement and Alex Plowright's musical composition. Furthermore, it illustrates the layering between Plowright's composition and the section of Taylor Swift's song Red (as described above).

The above screenshot depicts the disjointed effect created by the contrast of David Hockney’s statement and Alex Plowright’s musical composition. Furthermore, it illustrates the layering between Plowright’s composition and the section of Taylor Swift’s song Red (as described above).

The use of these two songs effectively provokes the listeners to experience the emotions associated with the colour red. In this sense, the listeners are influenced to feel the energising motivation associated with Alex Plowright’s composition and the spirit and intimate passion embodied in Taylor Swift’s and ‘Red’ and The Police’s Roxanne. The audience is swayed to feel empowered; to want to get up and do something profound with the strong-willed passion they embrace. The listeners experience the emotions ultimately associated with the colour.

My montage of audio instances of the colour blue transcends the audience into a sense of security and tranquility. The next segment of my sound project begins with the Radio Lab podcast presenters, in ‘Why Isn’t the Sky Blue?’, exclaiming: “…the colour of the sky. The most beautiful colour…” This statement ensures the audience has transcended into emotions the colour embodies. A harmonious singing of the word ‘blue’ follows Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich’s exclamation (also found from within the same podcast) and fades out. The harmonious sound of the word ‘blue’, paired with the soft tone of the feminine voice it is sung by, serenades the listeners to influence their confidence with the colour as though the audio instance is offering loyalty to them. As the soft singing of ‘blue’ fades out, Elton John’s Blue Eyes (1982) fades in with the lyrics: “…blue eyes, baby’s got blue eyes…” 

The screenshot above depicts the harmonious sound waves of the audio instances of the colour blue, highlighting the fading in and out of the soft sounds.

The screenshot above depicts the harmonious sound waves of the audio instances of the colour blue, highlighting the fading in and out of the soft sounds.

Together, the suggestion by the Radio Lab presenters that blue is “…the most beautiful colour…”, the harmonious and softly sung word blue, and the section of Elton John’s Blue Eyes, lulls the audience into a peaceful state of mind. The energising and strong-willed emotions evoked from the audio instances of red are no longer. The listeners are now feeling trustworthy, loyal and confident in their decisions, which is highlighted in the contrast between the feminine and masculine tones of voices. Between the female vocalist serenading the listeners with ‘blue’ and Elton John’s sweet description, the audience is warmed by the heartfelt tranquility and security that is offered to them through their ears – the audience trusts and believes in the music.

After influencing the audience to feel energised, motivated, strong-willed and passionate with the audio instances of the colour red, and tranquil, peaceful, trusting, confident, secure and loyal with the audio instances of blue, I wanted to sway the listeners into feeling hopeful and happy. “…brilliant yellow…”, spoken by the presenters of the Radio Lab podcast, ‘The Perfect Yellow’, opens the next progression of my sound project, offering the listener an insight as to what will come next. These emotive words, however, are followed instantly by the statement: “…something that is beautiful, and special…” (which is from the same podcast). In the background of this particular audio instance is a noise, soft in tone and faster in tempo, that provokes a feeling of enchantment – a feeling that is beautiful and special as the voice describes. As this audio instance fades out, fading in (and layered on top) are the lyrics from Coldplay’s Yellow (2000): “…oh what a thing to do ’cause you were all yellow…” 

The screenshot above details the pleasant tone of the sound waves in the segment depicting the emotions associated with the colour yellow. Furthermore, this image illustrates the layering used between the spoken words of the podcast 'The Perfect Yellow' and the lyrical section of Coldplay's 'Yellow'.

The screenshot above details the pleasant tone of the sound waves in the segment depicting the emotions associated with the colour yellow. Furthermore, this image illustrates the layering used between the spoken words of the podcast ‘The Perfect Yellow’ and the lyrical section of Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’.

These audio instances of the colour yellow are all soft in tone and differentiate between being faster in tempo (the recordings from the podcast) and slower (Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’), and provide the audience with a mellow or pleasant listening experience. The soft tones and alternation between the fast and slow tempos offers the listeners hope and happiness. The spoken words and lyrics in this segment of my sound project provide the listeners with a sacred experience that invites them to feel content and anticipating the good luck and cheerfulness the colour yellow embodies.

To complete my audio montage, I decided that I needed to conclude my sound project in a way that would offer the listeners a sense of closure on what they have heard. I didn’t want to leave the listeners with a disjointed and chaotic mixture of different feelings. To end my sound project I faded in a “ding dong” noise from the ‘Why Isn’t the Sky Blue?’ podcast. I then repeated this noise and faded it out. The purpose of the “ding dong” noise was to captivate the listener’s attention and position them to focus on what I wanted to reveal as the message of my audio montage. Layered beneath the “ding dong” noise was, however, another recording that I had taken on my moblie phone of David Hockney and Stephen Fry’s short series (as pictured below). I had recorded David Hockney saying: “…we all see colour a bit differently…”  I then paired this recording with a question from “The Perfect Yellow’ podcast: “…do you see the different colours?” With this segment of audio instances, however, I opted to use the effect of an echo with a delay time of two seconds and a decay factor of one point five. The use of the echo effect allowed for David Hockney’s words to be repeated and heard over the top of the question that followed. I then cross-faded in and out this section of audio. I repeated the use of David Hockney’s statement: “…red, blue and yellow – the primary colours…” after this progression with the “ding dong” noise layered over the top and fading out to complete my sound project.

The screenshot above illustrated the use of layering, the echoing effect and cross-fading in and out in the concluding segment of my soundscape.

The screenshot above illustrates the use of layering, the echoing effect and cross-fading in and out in the concluding segment of my soundscape.

The purpose of my concluding segment was to leave the listeners with the message that whilst we all see colours differently, they had just experienced the emotions that can be freely associated with each individual primary colour. I wanted the listeners to remember the number of feelings they had possessed and had inflicted upon them in the duration of my sound project.

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