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Acousmatic sound  

Acousmatic sound is sound one hears without seeing their originating cause - a invisible sound source. Radio, phonograph and telephone, all which transmit sounds without showing their emitter are acousmatic media 

Offscreen sound in film is sound that is acousmatic, relative to what is shown in the shot. In a film an acousmatic situation can develop along two different scenarios: either a sound is visualised first, and subsequently acousmatized, or it is a acousmatic to start with, and is visualized only afterward.  

  • The first cause associates a sound with a precise image from the outset. This Image can the reappear in the audience mind each time the sound is heard off screen
  • The second case, common to moody mystery films, keeps the sound´s cause a secret before revealing all. (De-acousmatization)
Opposite of Acousmatic sound is Visualized sound - a sound accompanied by the sight of its source or cause. In film a onscreen sound whose source appears in the image, and belongs to the reality represented therein 

(Edited excerpt: Michel Chion, Audio-Vision) 


Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen  is  available at Internet book stores as  Amazon books   Highly recommended


Other Books by Michel Chion 

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