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Fall Semester, 2008
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click! Danny Cackley from Sound Design: Studio

CHALLENGE: The Use of Metaphor in Sound. Create a sound design representative of visual art.

STATEMENT: The above picture is the painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” by George Seurat. I would like to represent using sound and effects to create a song/sound bite that evokes the same emotion as this painting. The style Seurat used, called pointillism, is extremely specific in its method of painting, but the final result is an interesting hazy kind of image. The technique is to compose the entire painting by dabbing dots of complimentary colors (such as red/green, blue/yellow, and orange/purple) to create an image that was both brilliant and commanding, while still suggesting to the viewer that the colors were all each a single hue. This effect is called optical unification. My goal is to create a similar effect using sound and music, creating a resonance that has both a stationary presence and a quality of motion. One reason I love this painting is for exactly that reason; it features moments of stillness combined with elements that must be in motion. I’d also like the final song to have that feeling of a lazy Sunday afternoon, outdoors and perhaps in France.

My plan for accomplishing this goal is threefold. First, I need to build the basis for the image in an abstract way, the way the painting would start off, just a few dots at a time. The beginning of the song then will be sparse but continuous, with slightly dissonant notes that resolve into pleasant sounding chords. Theoretically, I’d like to layer this effect so you can hear it happen gradually, with several dissonances and resolutions happening and then fading to a hum in the background. Then some broader sweeping sounds that evoke slow movement, like walking or sailing, or waves on the river. That will then become the sound that represents part of the motion in the painting. Then I plan to add in a montage of sounds that you might hear in a park, or on a riverbank, layering them to continue that sense of moving up the river. Finally I’d like the whole song to end on a kind of crescendo and decrescendo with everything falling into place, the realistic sounds fading out and only the chords building up in a loud kind of synthesizer sound, but still with a soft quality to it.

SOURCE MATERIAL: Various sound effect compact discs and software instrument plugins.

click! Rachel Phillips from Sound Design: Studio

CHALLENGE: The Use of Metaphor in Sound. Create a sound design representative of visual art.

STATEMENT: The piece I have chose for our second project is one done by Salvador Dali during the period where he was moving away from his more “traditional” artistic aesthetic (if the word traditional can even ever be applied to Dali) into a period of art that was much more over the top, trippy, and full of optical illusions. His art always bordered on bizarre from the beginning, but it was during this period that Dali was really moving into the hallucinogenic aesthetic that he is best recognized for. I love this painting because it is simply bizarre. There is a lot of movement, strange animalistic imagery, ethereal beauty found in the woman, and much more to the painting than you initially see upon first glance. I think this piece will allow me an amazing amount of creativity and many elements to interpret and translate into distinct elements in my piece

When looking at Modern Rhapsody, I feel as if there is an overtone of craziness, bordering on hysteria, especially emanating from the eye, which is open wide with a look of insanity within it. There is great movement in the legs of the telephone box and the woman as well as in the flaming giraffes in the background. The space of the work is wide open and vast. There is also a sense of entanglement from the eyelashes which envelop the woman and eventually turn into telephone cords.

All these elements, I think, culminate into what will be a dynamic piece with many different feelings, all layered together. There is a feeling of vastness and openness, which I feel could be best represented by very full and dusty sounding minor chords, evocative of a bleak dessert scene, which would eventually slowly layer upon each other through the course of the song into a cacophony of complex sounds and chords that will represent the feeling of insanity in the piece. Elements in the picture such as the phones will allow for sound effects to do with communications and technology to be used – phones ringing, dial tones, etc. Also, the animals and flames will probably best be represented by a strong set of rhythmic, pounding drums – not African/safari inspired drums, but rather drums that will give an accurate feeling of the power of the giraffe’s form and the intensity of the flames. I intend to represent the woman with a sort of heavenly melody that will lilt throughout the piece, coming and going – struggling as the woman seems to be with the phone itself. With the use of many synths, communications sound effects, a smattering of layered drums and various other elements which I’m sure to find necessary as I progress through the project, I feel like I will be able to produce a moving, modern piece with experimental overtones that will accurately capture the general feeling and composition of the piece as well as illuminate, through audio, what Dali’s style and mood as an artist was.

SOURCE MATERIAL: Various sound effect compact discs and GarageBand.

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Last Modified:
October 22, 2009