Sound that establishes, from the very beginning of a scene, the general character of the surroundings.
During the late and thirties, Hollywood typically used onscreen establishing sound (for example, traffic sounds accompanying a shot of Times Square), but regulary turned to offscreen establishing sound during the forties (for example, traffic sound accompanying a shot of a bedroom with shades pulled down)
Establishing sound is usally removed or regularly reduced in volume during dialogue, but may return in the form of reestablishing sound (sometimes but not sysytematically, accompanied by a reestablishing shot).
Rick Altman: Sound Theory/Sound Practice page 250
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