In working with found sound, we need to consider the ways in which listening modes, expectations, cues, contexts and backgrounds (among other things) will influence our audience’s perception of our work. On the flip side of that, in order to compose a successful found sound collage, you will need to have a clear mental image of the sounds and/or effect you want to create. Today’s class, therefore, is about listening. We’ll consider listening modes as described by MIchael Chion in the reading for today, but hopefully move beyond these ideas to consider other elements that affect a listener’s perception of sound.
1. Quick Reading Quiz (10 min)
2. Storyboarding exercise (40 min): the goal of this exercise is to expand our discussion of listening and explore elements that affect our listening beyond the modes we read about for today. To facilitate the discussion–to help brainstorm different elements that influence listening experience (in detail)–we will be storyboarding different listening experiences. Your group will be given two words describing a listening context.
Divide into groups of two or three.
a. As a group, brainstorm 2-3 different listening scenarios around each of your given contexts. These scenarios should vary quite a bit, but should each be centered around a single, primary listener. Each group member will pick one of the scenarios you brainstorm (per context) to flesh out in a storyboard. (So each group member will make two different storyboards, one per provided context).
b. Individually (though group consultations are fine): Create a fictional character and place them in your first scenario. Make a brief storyboard narration describing your character’s experience in their scenario. Although this is a listening exercise, describe the entire scenario in great detail, including both external factors (environmental/contextual considerations relating to scenario) and internal elements (experiential/contextual considerations relating to the fictional character) .
c. After you’ve created your first storyboards, discuss them as a group. From the scenarios, create a comprehensive list of elements that influence how your protagonists listen.
d. If there is time: repeat b and c for your second scenario. We will then make a master list as a class.
3. Reduced Listening Exercise (20 minutes): We will be briefly returning to your first reduced listening exercise.
Divide into the following groups, and click on the link to go to the relevant reduced listening exercise:
1. Original author: read your description of the noise out loud, while the group listens.
a. Pause for a few moments while everyone in your group generates a clear, detailed mental ‘image’ of the sound that was just described (including the original author– imagine the sound you described, rather than the sound itself).
b. Explore the characteristics of the description: based on the description, how was the author listening? (Consider not only listening modes, but also other elements that might have contributed to their listening experience.)
c. How easy is it for group members to come up with a mental image of the sound? How confident are you in your image?
2. Play back the rendering of the sound.
a. Does it match your mental image of the description? How is it similar/different?
b. What elements contribute to these similarities/differences?
c. For those of you that composed the renderings: how close is the rendering to your original mental image of the sound? When you imagined the sound today, was it different? What would you change about your rendering? How did the author’s approach to listening influence your rendering of the sound?
3. The big reveal: what was the original sound source?
4. Acousmatic Listening (40 minutes): To explore acousmatic listening, we’re going to do an experiment, in which we iteratively imagine, render and then describe a sound.
a. IMAGINE AND RENDER: Each group will begin with a sound-description written by one of your classmates. Your group will then have 10 minutes to imagine and create a speed-rendering of the sound. You may use sounds you find online and a DAW, or any other tools you can think of, to render the sounds.
b. DESCRIBE: After 10 minutes, you will pass your rendering to the next group, who will listen to and write a description of the rendering in 5 minutes. (It will probably be easiest to just briefly loan the laptop where you rendered the sound.) At the same time, you will be writing a description of another group’s rendering. For this exercise to work, your group will need to listen to the sound one at a time, with headphones, and without looking at the names of any source files. The description your group writes should reflect your experience of listening to the sound — listening mode, other factors that influenced perception of sound, etc.
c. IMAGINE AND RENDER (repeat of step ‘a,’ but with new description): Pass your description of the sound to the next group (but not the sound itself). You should also be receiving your new description from another group. you will have 10 minutes to render the new sound from the new description you have received.
We will swap sounds and descriptions until each group has rendered three sounds and described three sounds. At the end we will listen to the chain of sounds/descriptions.
Groups (I will hand you your initial descriptions on a piece of paper):
1. Ziyun, Miles, Adam, David, Chris
2. Caroline, Jake, Lazae, Allyson
3. John, Jorge, Mitsuko, Ruby, Michael,
5. Listening/Reflection/Feedback/Critique/Brainstorming (10-20 minutes): For the last chunk of class, divide into groups of three with people you haven’t worked with recently. Share the collage/group project you prepared for today as well as the ideas you have for your found sound collage. Use this opportunity to get feedback from your classmate on their experience of your project and ideas. Discuss the example(s) in terms of the listener, considering all the elements we’ve covered today, and begin to refine your idea/think about how you would improve your example.