|Dimensions of film sound:
Rhythm is on of the most complex features
of sound. Rhythm involves a beat or pulse a pace or tempo and a pattern
of accents or stronger or weaker beats.
Rhythm is most recognizable in film music, since the beat, tempo, and accent are basic compositional features.
People can be identified by "voice prints" which show not only characteristic frequencies and amplitudes but also distinct patterns of pacing and syllabic stress. In fictional films, speech rhythm is a matter for the performer's control, but the sound editor can also manipulate it at the dubbing phase
The plodding hooves of farmhorse differ from a cavalry company riding at full speed. The vibrating tone of a gong may offer a slowly decaying accent, while a sudden sneeze provides a brief one. In a gangster film, a machine gun's fire crates a regular rapid beat, while the sporadic reports of pistols may come at irregular intervals.
Any consideration of rhythmic uses of sound is complicated by the fact that movements in the images themselves have a rhythm as well, distinguished by the same principles of beat, speed, and accent. In addition, the editing has a rhythm. Short shots helps crate a rapid tempo, whereas shots held longer tend to slow down the rhythm.
A prototype of close coordination between screen movement and sound comes in the animated films of Walt Disney in the 1930s. Mickey Mouse and the other Disney characters often move in exact synchronization with music, even when they are not dancing. Such matching of nondance movement with music came to be known as "Mickey Mousing"
By fidelity David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson do not mean quality of recording.
Fidelity refers to the extent to which the sound is faithful to the source as we, the audience conceive it. If a film shows us a barking dog and we hear a barking noise, that sound is faithful to its source; the sound maintains fidelity. But if the picture of the barking dog is accompanied by the sound of a cat meowing, there enters a disparity between sound and image - a lack of fidelity.
Fidelity has nothing to do with what originally made the sound in production. A filmmaker may manipulate sound independently of image. Accompanying the image of a dog with the meow is no more difficult than accompanying the image with a bark. If the viewer takes the sound to be coming from its source in the diegetic world of film, then is faithful, regardless of its actual source in production.
Fidelity is purely a matter of expectation. Even if our dog emits a bark on screen, perhaps in production the bark came from a different dog or was electronically synthesized. We do not know what laser guns "really" sounds like, but we accept the wang they make in Star Wars.
When we do became aware that sound is unfaithful to its source, that awareness is usually used for the comic effect. In Jacques Tati's Mr. Hulot's Holiday much humor arises from the opening and closing of a dining-room door. Instead of simply recording a real door, Tati inserts a twanging sound like a plucked cello string each time the door swings. Because many of the jokes in Mr. Hulot's Holiday and other Tati films are based on quirkily unfaithful noises, his films are good specimens for the study of sound
Unfaithful sound may have dramatic functions as the accompanying sound to a kick or punch.
More about dramatic functions of sound effects
sounds for Director Jonathan Demme
Sound has spatial dimension because it comes from a source. Our beliefs about that source have a powerful effect on how we understand the sound.
If the source of the sound is a character or object in the story space of the film we called the sound diegetic
If the sound is represented as coming from a source outside story space we called the sound nondiegetic
At the beginning of Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles, we hear what we think is nondiegetic musical accompaniment for a cowboy's ride across the prairie - until he rides past Count Basie and his orchestra. This joke depends on a reversal of our expectations about the convention of nondiegetic music
One characteristic sound is the possibility of suggesting the sound perspective. This is a sense of spatial distance and location analogous to the cues for visual depth and volume which we get with visual perspective.
Sound designer Walter Murch:
Edited excerpts from David Bordwell's & Kristin Thompson's "Sound in Cinema" in FILM ART - an introduction
Art: An Introduction and Film Viewers Guide
|Star Wars Sounds||Film Sound Clichés||Film Sound History||Movie Sound Articles||Bibliography|
|Questions & Answers||Game Audio||Animation Sound||Glossaries||Randy Thom Articles|
|Walter Murch Articles||Foley Artistry||Sci-Fi Film Sound||Film Music||Home Theatre Sound|
|Theoretical Texts||Sound Effects Libraries||Miscellaneous|