Sound Design for the TheatreHistory of Sound Design
History of Soundo In the beginning…1. Primitive rituals (burials, harvest festivals) were accompanied bydrums or other simple instruments
History of Soundo In the beginning…1. Primitive rituals (burials, harvest festivals) were accompanied bydrums or other simple instruments2. Early theatre in China and India (4000 – 2000 BCE) used little scenerybut utilized music and sound for accompaniment and underscore
History of Soundo The Greeks (c. 500 – 146 BCE)1. Placed emphasis on actor’s voice in speech, recitative and song2. Music was integral, accompanied choral odes3. Amphitheatre architecture provided excellent acoustics4. Some researchers think masks offered amplification, though this ismostly disproven because of amphitheatre acousticsTheatre at Epidaurus
History of Soundo Italian and English Renaissance (c. 1300 – 1620 CE)1. Built upon the musical conventions of Medieval drama2. Commedia dell’arte used music before and after plays as well as tosupport the action. Also used sound effects such as the slapstick toheighten physical comedy.3. Elizabethan theatre created atmosphere with music and used it forscene transitions and pantomimed dumb shows during the play.Scripts called for practical offstage sound effects such as bells,chimes, thunder and gunshots.
History of Soundo Realism (late 1800s) and Expressionism (early 1900s)1. Realism, starting with Moscow Art Theatre’s 1898 production ofThe Seagull, attempted to present the play as a “slice of life”,required a large number of practical sound effects
History of Soundo Realism (late 1800s) and Expressionism (early 1900s)2. The first production of Our Town in 1938 used no recorded effects,sound effects were created offstage by actors and stagehands
History of Soundo Research into Sound1. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) : sketched design for a tube speaker2. Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (1778-1850) : determined velocity of soundat sea level (1130 ft/s)3. Felix Savart (1791-1841) : measured frequencies of musical pitches,invented “Savart’s Wheel” that produced sound at specificfrequencies with a rotating wheel4. Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894) : laws of harmonics, resonance
History of Soundo PHONAUTOGRAPH (1857)1. Invented by Leon Scott (1817-1879)2. Visibly recorded sound vibrations on blackened paper
History of Soundo PHONOGRAPH (1877)1. Invented by Thomas Edison (1847-1931)2. Fruit of experiments to develop a telephone signal repeater3. Edison foresaw many uses such as the answering machine, dictation4. Built with tinfoil cylinder as recording medium
History of Soundo PHONOGRAPH (1877)5. A.G. Bell patented the Gramophone using a wax cylinder (1881)6. Emil Berliner developed a flat disc for recording (1887)7. By 1900 the standard was a shellac disc spinning at 78 rpm,allowed mass production of discs
History of Soundo PHONOGRAPH (1877)8. Western Electric developed the electric pickup (1918)9. Sawyer created the crystal (piezoelectric) pickup (1931)10. DC motors replaced by rim-drive system, increasing quality (1938)11. Shellac replaced with vinyl plastic, allowed smaller groove andhigher speeds, 45 and 33 1/3 rpm (1944)12. Stereo sound developed (1957)
History of Soundo MAGNETIC RECORDING1. Oberlin Smith suggested the wire recorder (1888)Valdemar Poulsen made first working model in 1898
History of Soundo MAGNETIC RECORDING2. First audio tape (paper/FeO) created by Fritz Pfleumer (1928)3. Different mediums experimented with including a tungsten/steel stripso dangerous it had to be housed separately from the operator,a reel of tape for a half-hour program weighed 25 kg (55 lbs)
History of Soundo MAGNETIC RECORDING4. Polyester replaced paper as substrate (1957), found wide use in themusic industry, easy to edit5. Phillips introduced the 8-track cassette tape (1963)gained popularity in car stereos
History of Soundo MAGNETIC RECORDING4. Polyester replaced paper as substrate (1957), found wide use in themusic industry, easy to edit5. Phillips introduced the 8-track cassette tape (1963)gained popularity in car stereos6. Sony released the Walkman (1979)used stereo cassette tape, was portable and easy to record on
History of Soundo DIGITAL AUDIO1. Charles Babbage (1791-1871) theorized analytical engine (1842),his Difference Engine was the predecessor to modern computers
History of Soundo DIGITAL AUDIO2. Harry Nyquist (1889-1976) wrote about sampling theory (1928)sampling is a method of turning analog signal into digital information3. NHK demonstrated digital audio tape (DAT) recorder (1967)4. Phillips introduced prototype compact disc (CD) player (1979)5. Phillips and Sony developed CD standard for mass production (1980)6. Semiconductor laser allows for smaller CD systems (1982)7. First CD marketed in the US (1983)
History of Soundo Sound in the Cinema1. The first ‘talkie’ was The Jazz Singer which used a process calledVitaphone where the projector had a mechanical interlock to drivean attached phonograph playing sound in sync to the film.
History of Soundo Sound in the Cinema2. Optical recording on film was introduced in the 1930s, the edge ofthe film had either variable density or width, optical sensor translatedthe amount passing through into sound.
History of Soundo Sound in the Cinema3. In the 1950s magnetic tape was incorporated onto the film
History of Soundo Sound in the Cinema4. With the release of Jurassic Park (1993) Digital Theatre Systems (DTS)format was introduced, contained a time code track that syncedwith a separate audio CD
History of Soundo Sound in the Theatre1. Prerecorded sound effects become available on shellac records inthe 1930’s, Bertolt Brecht uses them in many of his productions.Cues were played back on double turntables, often a productionhad specially pressed records with cues on them
History of Soundo Sound in the Theatre2. By the 1950’s tape recorders came into widespread useWith no sound designer or audio crew, effects were found by thestage manager and run by stage electriciansDirectors with Hollywood backgrounds tried to emulate the sound ofthe cinema, but tapes were often of poor quality and unreliable somany cues were cut by the time a show reached Broadway
History of Soundo Sound in the Theatre3. Due to complicated, unreliable technology, sound design was oftenleft out or as a second thoughtDan Dugan was the first person to be called a sound designer atACT in San Francisco during the 1968-69 season; the Broadwayproduction of Hair (1968) credited “Sound by Bob Kernan”; On JesusChrist Superstar (1971) Abe Jacob was billed as “sound designer”
History of Soundo Sound in the Theatre4. In the 1990’s digital playback and recording was introduced to thetheatre with CDs, MiniDiscs, DATs, samplers and DAWsWith the continuing drop in prices and increase in quality of digitalaudio equipment, the sound designer’s flexibility and control hasvastly improved and with this greater consideration and impact inproductions.