The sound of Silence.



I wanted to follow on from my last blog with an interesting point someone brought up in regards to sound design.  They mentioned how sometimes no sound at all is just as powerful as the use of music and Foley.

This is something that I completely forgot to mention  and if used correctly can really add power to your films.

I was watching a TV drama the other night, it was called The Suspicions of Mr Whicher.  There was one particular scene where one character was talking to another in a crowded pub.  I actually can’t remember what the conversation was about but during their conversation it became quite tense.  It suddenly occurred to me that one of the reasons why was because all the sounds around them had almost become silent and it was just their words being heard. One of the characters left and slowly the ambient sound raised again.  It’s really quite a simple tool but helped immensely in emphasizing  that this was meant to be a tense scene.

I do believe that this will only work if it’s contrasted against loud noises. For example there are  scenes in Saving Private Ryan that do this too. Although there’s no reason why a whole scene can’t just be silent, only using subtle sound effects to tell the story in effective ways. For example a ticking clock, a crow or the howl of wind slowly getting stronger.  This all work just as well as using music to communicate to the audience subtle clues and beats.

So although music is great for adding tension and pace to your films, those silent moments really do help. And if you use your sound effects in inventive ways you can really punctuate the pace of the scene.

Let me know your thoughts.

Till next time,