Sound Language

So this may seem an unusual type of blog post compared to my recent ones, but in a recent lecture from a tutor on Audio Application module he briefly discussed how we can really define the way in which we discuss sound, mentioning words such as deep and full, and asking what these words really mean. When he first said this I completely agreed, and it wasn’t until on my long walk home I began to question it. For my undergraduate course last year I wrote a Dissertation about the Sound in Doctor Who and I used such phrases to discuss the sound. So I do agree with my tutor that it is perhaps not the best way to describe sound, but it does have some relevance and can be used on occasions. I have set myself the challenge of taking the words “Clear, Full and Grating.” I am going to describe them and find examples, whether it is music or a film scene.


In general I would describe clear to be more about a musical note rather than a piece of music, although it could be used to describe a piece of music too. I believe it to be something that is very clear, easy to hear and easy to notice whilst being very simple.

This example is from the film adaptation of Les Miserables and it’s the music which I would describe as being clear, especially from 1:04 to 1:46.

Taken from ildivo95 on Youtube.


To describe music as being full it should sound big and dramatic. It should stand out and be distinctive. If I was using the word full in a description it would be for music rather than a sound effect.

This example is from the 2005 Doctor Who theme tune. It uses an orchestra rather than electronic music, and the brass instruments especially are what I would describe as full.

Taken from moonraker79 on Youtube.


Now for grating I automatically want to use the word sharp. I think they are both describing something similar. It is a sound effect or music that should almost make the ear tingle and ring and make you feel uncomfortable.

The example I have found is music from Hitchcock’s Psycho, and I believe it really does have the ‘ringing in the ear’ effect.

Taken from BetOOoOoo FluoRescente! on Youtube.

So yes I believe I have managed to describe these words and find examples. These are how I view these words and you may think differently, but isn’t that the point. We all see, hear and think differently.


Dictionary Cambridge (2014) Clear Definition. [online] Dictionary Cambridge. Available from [Accessed 25th November 2014]

Dictionary Cambridge (2014) Full Definition. [online] Dictionary Cambridge. Available from [Accessed 25th November 2014]

Dictionary Cambridge (2014) Grating Definition. [online] Dictionary Cambridge. Available from [Accessed 25th November 2014]



BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

I have made it pretty obvious that I have an addiction to the television show that was born during the 60’s, Doctor Who. A ground-breaking show and something most people hadn’t experienced before. Now a great deal of this was due to its completely original sound design, and the creators of this sound were the people at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Now it would be unfair to write about them and just talk about their work on Doctor Who so here I give you a post about BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

The BBC Radiophonic Workshop was born in 1958 and was a sound effects department for the BBC.   They originally worked on radio, later on taking their skill into television sound. They have had some of the most talented people in the industry work for them. People such as Delia Derbyshire who worked on Doctor Who, Paddy Kingsland who worked on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Dick Mills who worked on Doctor Who and stayed working there until 1993. Some of the other work they have done:

 The Goon Show, a radio comedy show from 1951 to 1960. For this they worked on the music and the sound effects.

This is from khent712 on Youtube.

 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a radio series first broadcast in 1978. For this effects were created by Paddy Kingsland with Dick Mills. They worked on the music excluding the show’s theme tune.

On this site original content can be found.

 Quatermass and the Pit, a sci-fi television show in December 1958 and January 1959. This would be the first television they worked on. For this Desmond Briscoe and Dicks Mills worked on the effects.

This is from zardoz80 on Youtube.

This is a very short list of some of the content that they created from 1958 until 1998. In recent years they have reunited for concerts. I have learnt a lot from researching about them. I do see creating sound effects in a different way. For example for a current project, I am working on, we found a metal door, shutting and moving the door in different ways and editing in different frequencies, has created a selection of sound effects. Radiophonic has taught me sound doesn’t need to be logical, it can be anything. But I will leave you with my favourite sound of theirs.

This is from BBCClassicDoctorWho on Youtube


BBC – Music (2014) The BBC Radiophonic Workshop. BBC. Retrieved 19th November, 2014, from

Wikipedia (2014) BBC Radiophonic WorkshopWikipedia. Retrieved 19th November 2014  from




Research and what can inspire a idea

Now this isn’t just something that just applies to Audio. It can apply to anyone creating any media piece. In my recent project I found the importance of letting anything inspire you and the amount of research you need to do. For this particular blog I will use a radio piece I created called 100 years ago, based on WW1.

This idea sparked from two events, a personal experience and a TV episode. Now my own experience was whilst visiting Amsterdam when I was 15. We visited a Holocaust memorial site and even though I didn’t have family that were tragically killed in this part of the world, I saw my Grandmother’s maiden name. Suddenly the life of a person I  never knew, even though we were not related, flashed in front of my eyes.  Years later, well last year to be exact, over a relaxing Christmas break I found myself watching old Downton Abbey episodes. During the WW1 period they covered an extremely powerful storyline about shellshock. I found myself inspired and then found myself linking these two moments together and then a radio drama was born. With a project like this going back in time you can’t possibly have an idea and expect something amazing from it in one go. It took a lot of research.

Blood sweat and tears went into this project, including many many many hours researching over a few months. Now I can’t provide you with all my research, so instead here are snippets from it.

TV and Audio research

As we are entering 100 year anniversary there has been a great deal of television and radio documentaries on different aspects of the war, along with historical TV drama. These have helped with the research for my drama, ensuring the details are correct.

 TV Documentaries

Jeremy Paxman- Britain’s Great War:

War Comes to Britain

  • Sound of the drums
  • 11:00 in the evening
  • 11:20 telegram sent
  • Politicians in tears
  • August 5th people wanting to see the King
  • Anxiety and excitement about war
  • “War to end Wars”
  • Private John Parr, first soldier to die was there to better himself
  • National Duty
  • Joining made public business
  • “Just because they were in uniform didn’t mean they were soldiers”
  • 6 months training
  • “Great German War machine”
  • “Join with your friends”
  • “Dare I stand aside”
  • Germans executing women and children in Belgium, rumors in Britain
  • “Clock being stopped forever”
  • “Ran holding hands”
  • King visiting soldiers in Hospital

 The War Machine.

  • Ordinary people dragged into war
  • Anti German riots
  • Press banned from reporting things
  • “Britain was learning to do what it was told”
  • Smell of death
  • A new family made in the trenches
  • Censor mens’ letters home
  • “Duty to King and Country”
  • “Good bye my loved ones don’t cry” (Letter back home from a soldier to his wife and children)
  • Battle of the Somme hoping to decide the outcome of the war, 7 days and 7 nights.

 Downtown Abbey

Shell shock story line

The character Henry Lang suffers from shell shock and is invalided out of the war early. However, the reasons for him leaving are never discussed. Characters are confused about how to treat him while some seem partly afraid, apart from one whose nephew was shot for “Cowardice.” The scenes where he relives the battles are extremely powerful and help the audience understand how it was still a problem even after leaving the frontline However, in the British upper classes it was dismissed and a subject which would never be mentioned.

 Goodbye and Praying

Two helpful scenes where a character says goodbye to a loved one followed by a scene where she can be seen praying for him. These scenes helped with the language women used towards loved ones at the time. While there is a lot of information about soldiers saying their goodbyes it is more difficult to find the equivalent for women. This information was important when writing for the WW1 scenes as it was essential to give them hope of returning to their homelife once the war was ended.


“Duty to King and Country”

“The big push”

“No man’s land”

“Going over the top”

These were expressions frequently used in Black Adder Goes Forth.

WW1 terms

Big Bertha- German guns

Big Push- Reference to Battle of the Somme

Blighty- England

Brass Hats- Higher ranking officers

Bunker- Overhead protection ground level

Eleventh hour- Just in time

Fritz- Sympathetic nickname for German soldiers.

The Great War- WW1

Enlist- signing up to fight in the war

Push up the daisies- To be killed and buried

Tommy- British frontline soldier

Trench fever- sickness around the trenches

Hun- Harsh nickname for Germans

My top 5 tips for research are:

  1. Work out exactly what you need to research.
  2. Put your research into categories, for example, History, Language, Film and Audio and Images.
  3. Be organised, set aside a few hours for a couple of weeks to get it done.
  4. Make sure all your facts are correct.
  5. Last of all give yourself time to take it all in before the next step.

If you are interested in the piece it can be found on my soundcloud.


Downton Abbey (2010) [DVD] series 2, episode 1. Universal.

Downton Abbey (2010) [DVD] series 2, episode 2. Universal.

Jeremy Paxman- Britain’s Great War:  The War Machine (2014) [online off air-recording] BBC One. 3rd February. Available from [Accessed February 2014].

Jeremy Paxman- Britain’s Great War: War comes to Britain:  (2014) [online off air-recording] BBC One. 27th January. Available from [Accessed February 2014].


Dialogue editing

After a recent rather serious blog, it’s time to take on a similar subject but in a lighthearted way. I am currently studying for a Masters in Audio Production at the University of Salford and a recent workshop focused on syncing audio to the image. This is something that is a crucial and a important aspect to get right when editing sound. In a documentary where Ben Burt is working with actors in an ADR (Automated dialogue replacement) session, it shows how tricky this is and how it clearly requires particular skill. The idea behind ADR is that actors voices are recorded at a different time to the film with the actors effectively doing voice-overs. When this is done well it is not noticeable, however, when done badly you are going to get some very disappointed audience members.

This is a comical example of how seriously wrong it can be in a scene from Singing in the Rain.

This is from mellow0w on Youtube.

Yes this is a funny and over-the-top example to show the importance of syncing and ADR.  At the moment I am currently working on an animation piece and for this we are recreating all of the sound including ADR. This Thursday we are recording the actors and this is the current process we have used for getting this right.

  1. Watching the animation noting where it doesn’t sync.
  2. Going over the script, to see where lines do not match.
  3. Deciding scenes or lines where a new line can be added or replaced.
  4. When adding new lines checking the mouth movement to make sure it can be matched.

This has been the process so far and after recording the actors we will be working on syncing the dialogue.


Wikipedia (2014) Dubbing (Filmmaking)Wikipedia. Retrieved 5th November, 2014, from

Yotube (2013) Star Wars Episodes II Films are not released. They Escape Documentary. Youtube. Retrieved 5th November, 2014,  from