Brief Two – Filmic Spaces

Brief Two – Filmic Spaces

“You are to use original or substantially re-processed sound to create a multi-dimensional soundscape or sound design that is derived from one of the texts provided (or you can find an equivalent piece of writing).”

For part one of this Film brief we were asked to research and define various terms in reference to sound design and multi-dimensional soundscapes, in order to produce our own soundscape. We were given a choice of texts to base our work around, or we were allowed to provide our own; for my piece I decided to base it around Schizophrenia, and an exact from a paper I found about it, which you can see at the bottom of this page. I chose to do this because I liked the idea of looking into the psychology of a person, or character, and felt it would be an interesting concept to perhaps interpret or create a persons mental character and thought process through sound, and having no visual guidance on what it had to be like.

However, before I go onto the making of my soundscape, lets begin by defining some terminology:

– Soundscape – A soundscape I feel can be described in a similar way to a landscape, however, rather than being a visual source, its more so an aural source. In the sense that you are able to understand your surroundings; know where you are, the atmosphere, what’s happening, from your visual perception, a soundscape allows you to do this also, however through sound and music. For example, if you were to go to a party, you could see people smiling, dancing, drinking, and generally enjoying themselves. However, if you were to close your eyes, you could hear the laughter of people, the music, the chattering: from this you would be able to assume what’s happening even without a visual, this would be your soundscape.

–       Mise-en-scene – This is a French term that translated would literally mean ‘Put in the scene’ (well according to Google that is, my French is a little rusty I’m afraid), however essentially, it means and talks about setting the scene. When talking about film, it would relate to the arrangement of the scene in front of the camera, taking into consideration the props, set, composition, actors and much more. They say that mise-en-scene is there to somewhat help ‘tell the story’.

Now here you’d probably question how this comes into sound wouldn’t you? Well in many ways you have to look into the detail of a film perhaps to realize. If you were to think back to a film you’ve seen before, take a horror movie for example, and what are your key components that create the spine-chilling movie? You’ll of course have your horrifyingly scary criminal, often blood, gore and rather a lot of dark rooms that nobody should ever go into (but obviously they always do). However, if you think over it again, despite the way in which these films are set up, without sound or music over the top, would the impact on you be as great? Imagine a horror movie now without the sound, there’s a group of teenagers walking towards a door, slowly opening it into a dark room, when someone starts to walk out of the darkness: now without the eerie creaking of the door, or a dark synth playing in the background, this film would have no emotional impact on you, it’s the soundscape over the top of these films that help to ‘set the scene’ in a sense. However, there are different types of sound to consider that help set this scene: Diegetic and Non-diegetic sound.

–       Diegetic Sound – Now, diegetic sound is sound within the scene where in which the source of it is either visible or implied and assumed to be there, by what may be happening within the film. In example this could be shown through the voices of characters in the film, or perhaps if there’s an object within the scene that could be creating a noise, i.e. a car engine that’s paused at traffic lights. Essentially, within the reality of the film, or scene, any sound that presents its self as originating from it, is diegetic sound. Furthermore, this then allows diegetic sound to come from on or off screen, as long as its source is in fitting with the film, if however the sound does not relate to any source on or off screen, this would then be seen as Non-Diegetic sound.

–       Non-diegetic Sound – Unlike Diegetic Sound, the source of Non-Diegetic sound does not have to be visible or assumed within the scene, in example it could perhaps be in the form of a narration, or ambient music which helps to set the general mood of a scene. Furthermore, to help increase any drama within the film, often non-diegetic sound is used for sound effects. Often the perception of the film in terms of the viewer will help determine whether sound is of a diegetic nature, or non-diegetic nature. Again, considering the horror film analogy, if you were to see a horror film with teenagers in a dark house, going towards a door; an eerie dark synth playing over the top; this would be non-diegetic, as in the reality of the story, the characters would not be able to hear that noise in their world, it would not make sense as there is nothing within that scene to create or assume a source for it.

–       SOUND as apposed to MUSIC – Here I wanted to address the primary differences between sound and music. Though in many senses when added to film, the effects of sound or music may be similar, there are obvious differences between the two also. Unlike the two different kinds of sound I explained earlier, (diegetic and non-diegetic), music adds a sense of mood or atmosphere to a film in different ways. Some music can have a variety of characteristics that differentiate it from sound, such as: varying dynamics changes in pitch, melody, harmony, a beat and often some kind of rhythm.

I’ve always felt that one primary difference I notice between music and sound is that sound chiefly acts as tool to create or change the dramatic direction of the film. However, when I think of music within films, I feel it often acts more so as an unspoken emotion of a character, it sets the mood, much like sound can, however in a much more detailed, almost deeper sense. Where as I feel that sound can help built tension and illustrates audibly the present action within a film, I feel music can often indicate potential emotions that presently are happening within the film, or that could or will be happening in the near future of the film.

Text Extract 

I chose an extract from a paper about Schizophrenia, written by a diagnosed schizophrenic. To read the full paper go to

“Experts agree that it is a syndrome (signs and symptoms that are thought to co-occur in ways that distinguish it from other syndromes and from normal thoughts and behaviors).  Schizophrenia is also defined as a psychotic disorder with, impairments in reality, disturbances of perception and thought experienced as hallucinations, delusions, hearing voices, seeing things that are not there, and paranoia.  Its onset usually starts in a person’s late teens to early twenties, and it affects about one percent of the global population. Its causes are unknown but experts are learning more every day.

“Detailed descriptions of mental disorders such as mania, melancholia, dementia, delirium and hysteria have been available since Hippocrates (5th century BC).  There is no record however of descriptions of a disorder that resembles the modern day construct of schizophrenia until the end of the nineteenth century.  It wasn’t until 1896, when Emil Kraepelin published a revision to his influential textbook of psychiatry, that the grouping we presently call schizophrenia was introduced.  Kraepelin was the first physician to introduce the construct and provided detailed, objective descriptions and diagnostic criteria for the disorder, he referred to as dementia praecox” (Shean 2).  He adopted this term to describe characteristics and symptoms that were previously identified as separate syndromes.  This term is to describe the early onset (praecox) and the unique pattern of early deterioration and mental decline (dementia).  It was Eugene Bleuler in 1908 that named the illness Schizophrenia, a splitting apart of the mind.  “The splitting meant that the mind no longer functioned as a whole, with behavior, emotion, and intellect working together.  It did not mean that there were multiple personalities” (Freedman 8).

Delusions and fantasies dominate over rational thought.  Patients are stricken by formal thought disturbances.  “As a consequence delusions, fantasies, wishes, needs, and emotions rather than intentions and logic control thought and action” (Shean 4).  Many experience paranoia such as thinking the CIA is doing this to them with radio waves to control their mind, or that aliens are beaming them up from a mother ship.  Basically schizophrenics believe they are under surveillance by some unknown being with the abilities of mind control.  It is reported that the irrational thoughts dominate their mind and drive them to despair.  Schizophrenics hear convincing voices that are actually lying to them.  This is why a psychiatrist will say they have delusions.”

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