For this week's challenge you're going to make some sound effects at home!
Live theatre is such a special and unique experience because it engages your senses in such a powerful way. When you see people acting, live, on stage, in front of you, your brain responds differently to seeing people acting on television. The same is true with sound! Sound in live performance is a fantastic storytelling tool.
The Sound of Music
The Sound Designer works with the director to find or write the music used, this can be a long and detailed process as music has a powerful impact on how the audience feel whilst watching the play.
The Sound Designer will also decide on any sound effects to be used. These can be pre-recorded or created live.
These sounds can be played through small speakers hidden in the set to really make you believe the sound is coming from the right place.
We also often create sounds live to get the desired effect. For Talking Heads, we had a real garden gate set up to for “Cream Cracker Under The Sofa”. This was to give the genuine sound of a gate blowing in the wind. We spent a long time trying to get a brand-new gate to squeak!
For our production of ‘Beryl’, we created as many of the sound effects as possible live and in view of the audience in a Foley Area.
Foley Sounds have been used in radio plays for a very long time, with a Foley Artist creating various sounds, often from very different items. For example, the use of coconut halves to sound like horse’s hooves is a well-known Foley trick. Some lesser known tricks are that dried peas in a tray can sound like waves on a shore, and leather gloves can sound like bird’s wings.
This week’s challenge!
One of the noisiest scenes in theatre history is the shipwreck scene at the beginning of The Tempest which takes place during a huge storm at sea.
For the challenge, we’d like you to try and recreate these 2 sound effects from this scene – using anything in your house, your voice, anything you like. You can record yourself saying the lines, too, or just the sound effects. Please then send us your sounds as an audio or video file.
- A tempestuous noise of thunder and lightning heard.
Enter a Shipmaster and a Boatswain.
BOATSWAIN: Here, master. What cheer?
MASTER: Good, speak to th’ mariners. Fall to ’t yarely,
or we run ourselves aground. Bestir, bestir!
- A confused noise within:
“Mercy on us!”—“We split, we
split!”—“Farewell, my wife and children!”—
“Farewell, brother!”—“We split, we split, we split!”
Here is a video from our brilliant Chief Electrician Kay (and her equally brilliant apprentice, Jamie) demonstrating a couple of ideas for some sound effects using kitchen equipment.