Sound to stories

February 26, 2012

The sound of a distant piano echoing in a bare corridor evokes images from an imagined 1930’s movie.

This mood has been repeated in more contemporary films especially hauntings that feature children. The subliminal power of this effect is not surprising; from early childhood we recall sound from a distance. Much is said in the home that is not intended for our ears when we are small and yet we hear it from a distance: a romantic exchange between our parents, a record played after we are supposed to be asleep, sharp words in a moment of tension, the illness of a relative (but not in front of the children), something on the news…

Yes, the echo of a distant piano triggers that sense of something happening that we are drawn to as an uninvited witness.

Film makers use music to evoke a mood for a moment but, equally, music evokes its own images for many people (although not all people). Entire stories have been inspired by a piece of music or a sound and it is that translation from wave to mood to image and back again that makes and breaks many films regardless of genre (Example, try this with eyes closed then eyes open http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCs-qJan6Vk ).

In his book, Shut up and Shoot, Anthony Artis comments that audiences will substantially forgive us for poor imagery but they will never forgive us for poor sound (ironic for a visual art)! If we can not hear the sound well or the sound is incongruous to the intended mood/message then we immediately alienate our audience and our intent is lost. This was demonstrated frequently in 1960’s and 1970’s films when many highly experienced film makers succumbed to fashion and “tried to be interesting” with their score. When the films were released they “kind of” got away with it because it was fashionable, however, such miscalculations do not stand the test of time. Today, when we watch many films from that era, we find that the film’s message is diluted by the film score (the greatest offenders were detective stories) and indeed, many of those film scores are unmemorable to us now.

Evocation is the key to success. Does our score evoke the relevant emotion whether subliminal or not? If it does, then the potential success of our visual art is substantially fast tracked and if it doesn’t, then perhaps our audience will never forgive us.


Hello world!

February 23, 2012

Welcome to Hubro Insight’s blog from County Laois in the Midlands of Ireland.

Thoughts, observations, inspiration and the translation of senses to visual interpretation.