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    Book Review: Sound Design


    The full title of this book is Sound Design: The Expressive Power of Music, Voice, and Sound Effects in Cinema by David Sonnenschein. In many regards this book is very different from the last book review I did. Instead of a crash course in everything from picking equipment to building a sound stage and everything else, Sound Design is more a theoretical look at what is involved with being a sound designer, particularly as the subtitle suggests, in the realm of cinema. Also unlike the Sound Effect Bible, Sound Design is very academic and for me it took a while to get through it all. That is not to say it isn't a bad read, but it is deep and philosophical and you really have to pay attention.
    The first chapter of the book imagines that the reader is a sound designer for the first time and takes you through every step of the cinematic sound design process from the first time you read the script to the final movie and includes important tips like how to get along with the director, making a sound map, as well as technical things like what to be thinking about if your movie is going to be in surround sound or not.
    There is a short chapter on creativity with a few interesting bits from various famous sound designers and tips like using salt or rice on a piece of paper to make the sound of rain or hail. Unfortunately this chapter is short and left me wanting more, although books like the Sound Effects Bible fill in lots of the gaps.
    The majority of the book though is about the sensation and perception and psychology of sound. There are in-depth descriptions of things like the physiology of the ear and how, for example it takes a certain amount of time for our ears to react to reach full reaction to a sound, and if the sound is short enough we will not hear its full volume. There is discussion on hearing loss and fatigue not only in regards to you as a sound designer, but also for your audience (i.e. if everything in the movie is loud, they will get tired and the loudness won't be very impressive any more). There is also plenty of discussion about the sounds and how they relate to the movie images and also the music and how those can be mixed in various ways to give the audience cues on what to focus on, as well as psychological effects. I don't think I'm really doing this section of the book justice because it is very deep and it seems like one of those books that needs to be read a couple times to really grasp everything.
    The final section of the book is about sound and how it relates and can be compared to the narrative structure of the film. Again this is a section that is worth reading a few times and relays how one can treat sound as a character in the film.
    Overall this book is a really interesting read if you are wanting to be a sound designer in cinema and I certainly imagine all the the principles can be applied to any other areas of sound design. I found the physiological part the most interesting and I suspect now that I have read this book I will be a better listener. 4 out of 5.

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