Learning Objective

• Moving image sound tracks can have four elements: music, sound effects, voice and silence. All of these contribute to meaning.
• Sound effects are of two types: ‘atmosphere’ (ie continuous sound) and ‘spot effects’ (ie short sounds).
• Sound – particularly music – can set the ‘mood’ of a text and establish its generic identity (eg comedy, thriller).
• Sound can often do more to ‘pin down’ the meaning of a sequence than visual images can.
• Sound can affect not only the way viewers interpret the images but also what they actually think they can see.
• Off-screen sounds can help to create the impression of three-dimensional space.
• Silence can also have a powerful effect on the interpretation of a sequence.

Key Questions

About music:
• What kind of music is this? What feelings/images does it suggest to you?
About sound effects:
• What exactly can you hear and what might it represent?
About words:
• What is said and what can you tell about the speaker(s) from their voice(s)?
About silence:
• Why do you think the sequence is silent at this point? What might be going on?
About the final viewing:
• What difference does the sound make to the sequence? What difference would it make if some elements were missing?