Falmouth University sound lecture

Last week I was once again down at Falmouth University, Cornwall, to deliver a lecture to the Film and Multi-Media students.

The lecture was entitled 'Contours and Conventions', and focused on how we interpret emotional content and information through sound and music, and how our understanding of what the future will sound like has been shaped by cinema.

The title comes from a phrase coined by Peter Kivy, in his book 'Sound Sentiments'. Contours are melodic shapes that mirror our experiences and our environment, such as speech patterns or body movement - for instance, a lament in classical music works on a descending scale, and indicates sadness. The scale imitates our body movement and the tones of our voice when we are sad. Conventions are codes that we have learnt to associate with different psychological states, through our interaction with culture.

Cinema has taught us many conventions, from the sound of a hot desert, and the fact that every snake rattles even if it isn't a rattlesnake, to the sound of lasers and hover cars, and the bleeps of touch screen user interfaces in the future. We have become incredibly sophisticated now in our ability to decipher complex information about mood, emotion, environment and technology through the sophistication of cinema sound design.

Knowing the language of cinema as well as understanding how we interact with and decipher our sonic environment, we can create more efficient and effective environmental sound design, that conveys the right information and emotional content, and meets with our expectations of the future.

The lecture seemed to go down a treat with the students. A big thanks to Kingsley Marshall, head of the Film department and long time friend of Condiment Junkie. Kingsley and the Junkie are embarking on a couple of research papers later this year. More on that soon.

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