Elements of Drama: Sound

Part 4 in a series exploring the use of various dramatic elements.

My definition of sound:

Modern theatrical practice relies on sound to assist in a number of ways. It can be useful in creating atmosphere or mood. Actors and their bodies can construct effective sound in performance. Small props can also create sound effects that can be used live during a show. Other uses of sound involve the implementation of technology, such as instrumental recordings, soundscapes and sound effects on CD.

My Year 11 Drama class explored sound in performance in a classroom setting via workshopping a brief skit. Their findings below refer to any use of sound in a dramatic performance that does not rely on the use of technology:

  • sound can be created via exaggerated breathing or sighing
  • sound can be created via a performer interacting with objects or props
  • sound can be created by using the voice to create a myriad of sounds (eg. whoosh)
  • sound can be created by using the body (limbs, feet etc.) for stomping, dragging feet and more
  • sound can assist in the creation of tension, mood and changes in rhythm in a performance
  • sound can be used to create a setting and develop character (eg. the typical teenage yawn)
  • sound can assist in the visualisation of imaginary objects and props in a performance
  • a complete lack of sound (silence) can also be very effective in a drama

6 Responses

  1. no name says:

    have you looked at diagetic and non diagetic sound? quite interesting…

    Diagetic Sound:

    Sound or music recorded in the movie’s world. Example: a door closing, gun being fired, police siren.

    Non-Diagetic Sound:

    Sound or music that is added to the film during the editing process. Most often, non-diagetic sound is music.

  2. Al says:

    You might want to check out my new MacOS app ‘TheatreSound’ for cuing audio in shows. It makes the whole design and rehearsal thing very easy.




  3. Gideon says:

    nice, I’m doing my masters in theatre and performing arts. this was quite helpful… thanks. do you have any theory on theatre sound design application?

  4. Halimi MN says:

    Thank you with a lots of great information.

  5. Great blog with lots of great information! I’m a first year theatre teacher. What a ride! Anyway, thanks for all this info. 🙂

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