• Elvin Ou

Creating a sound walk

Updated: Sep 12, 2018

The two-week sound assignment is to collect sounds for a 3-5 minute sound walk to a specific location inside of 721 Broadway as a team. It could be informational, fictional, sensual, spoken-word, musical. It could be about infrastructure, architecture, people, or something completely different.

For the first week, our team started our project with diagraming the arc of the narrative, forming the character and defining what type of sound that need to be collected for the sound walk. As a team, three of us each has worked on our own narratives and characters after experiencing the given sound walk examples and eventually we met together trying to combine or work on it to create a collaborative piece.

For the first meeting we had, we shared and discussed about our ideas. It was very interesting that three of us each has our own focus and perspective when we were narrating our ideas. My idea is to focus on how to help audience engage with the environment in depth, to use audio to guide audience to circulate in a certain way and certain pacing, short, long, fast and slow etc. one of my team members' idea is concentrating on the aspect of "immersive", how to use the sound to bring the audience into the character from a first person perspective, let the audience be the story instead of hearing the story; the other idea is about alternating the scale of the sound source and the sound itself, imaging how sound experience would differ if you were an ant, or a butterfly etc.

The discussion was super fun but we also came up a list of questions or problems that we want to find answers of:

who is the audience?

who is telling the story?

who is the character?

is the character in audience's head?

how to control the space?

how to guide audience to precede the space?

how to keep audience on track?


To solve or explore the question, I started to draft out a narrative with characters, conversation, narration, and internal talks with the correlated sound reference needed. This process actually took a bit of time and we ended up having more problems to explore: How to design the duration of each sector, and how do they all add up together to be the exact amount of time we want the experience to be? Since we have bene only thinking about this process in our head, we had to get up and start to act out the narratives and see how much time each movement would take and what sound reference that is actually needed to record.

Even though the narratives were not that much complete, we decided to use the zoom recorder to collect some "ingredients" first. Inspired by the "Her Black Long Hair", we wanted to figure out if there is a special mic or way to record sound with depth and direction, so we tried different mics and did some research. However we could not figure out how to do so binaural recording and decided to stick with the zoom itself.

From the narrative we created, we started to list out sound reference that we needed to collect and started the sound hunt. During the process, we found it extremely hard to get the clean sound quality that we want and we were wondering if we would be possible to edit the demos in Audition in some way to modify the sound quality and maybe make it binaural.

Reference sound recording 1: https://soundcloud.com/elvin-ou-110040295/sets/sound-walk-demo

Reference sound recording 2:https://soundcloud.com/elvin-ou-110040295/sets/binaural-whisper-1