On Sound that Moves with You

In this post I’m going to dig a little into sound design for intimate performance. Our scratch of Occupied in the CSSD toilets was well received by our guests, but looking forward to the second phase of the project I’ve come to see that the sound lacked a little something.

For us, the audience’s experience is everything. It’s the essence of what we do. It’s why we rigorously test and rehearse every minute of our piece - not to memorise ‘how the scene should be’ but to trial ourselves over and over again to test our reflexes and imagination under strain. It’s a bit masochist when you think about it. 

What I’m getting at is the sound - so far - has not been following this path as closely as I’d like. Digital production being what it is, and my skills being what they are, I can’t follow the same regime. The sound needs to be edited attentively, listened to a few times, rendered to a file, played back to the group, then feedback, some mental notes and then I try again. This process just doesn’t have the same flexibility or responsiveness that embodies our rehearsals and embodies the spirit of the project and the audience’s journey.

So I have been looking into alternatives. With the advent of wonderful free technologies like Kinect Hacks and RJDJ, there is a wealth of potential for theatre sound to be as dynamic and responsive as a performer. Earlier in the R&D I brought a contact microphone and free software by RJDJ to a rehearsal, and we had a fun few hours playing and exploring the effects of different materials and gestures.

Unfortunately, there was little space in the scratch to use this equipment. I feel as though I let go of a great opportunity, so I want to see where it can go for our final piece. I really think this kind of technology is the future of sound design for the live arts, it places the sound as a performer in the space. The opportunity to put that to work in our piece is too good to miss!