Composition as a unique entity

by Susana Alarcon


Gestalt psychology maintains that the human perceives entities “in their entirety before perceiving their individual parts, suggesting the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” (Wikipedia)

Though is more focused on the visual completion of patterns, and how the eye recognizes the object and not details first, it is also about the interaction of our senses in the definition and perception of something. We tend to order our experience in the most logic and simple way. Why bother in asking infinite questions separating our variables in the senses and analyzing them in order to get the accurate and probably complicated response?

For most humans, not sound designers, the answer is… you don’t bother! it is easier to believe than to ask if it is real. Let brain complete the cicle.



I found very interesting how the backgrounds( audio or design specially) and personalities of  my classmates were reflected on the piece they/me chose for the major project.

While some of us expected to give a try to mimic and complete the “reality” of the pick, by using diegetic approach, other went to the  effects side to “manipulate” emotions, some others to the use of music and on an unexpected situation others to the creation of a mixed piece of visuals to enhance, describe and categorize sounds… I particularly find this last one brave, but, not my style, too much mis for me.

I also found a bit disappointing the fact that they (audio students) can employ much more terms and obviously knowledge in sound manipulation than me, hopefully the difference won’t be too big.


by Susana Alarcon


Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which the stimulation on sense leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sense. People who report such experiences are known as synesthetes and it is described as a rare condition (error) in the brain connections.

People can hear or smell or count colors, see sounds and make a mix and relate words, numbers, colors, … so what is it an error (or not) in the way the brain connects the senses to perceive reality. If it is an error, then the connection may be a natural brain human condition. It is like a type of synchresis without the two parts.

If it is an error then, why when I say imagine how does the sound “kaka” looks like and now imagine how does “bob” looks like you imagine something like…

VV and then something like O  (it is all I can do with the keyboard, use your imagination)

I don’t have the links of the studies I looked at, but this topic was the base of a project that I’m currently working on Interaction design subject, and though some connections are strange and different in people around the world, others seem to be imprinted in humans brain no matter geography, age or traditions.

May the people (sound designers) that explode better media experience with the accurate sounds be the ones that understand better (even not very conscious) the natural brain connections of humans, or we just tend to embrace it if it is entertaining?

Sound imagination boost: dimensions and…

Keeping on with the sensorial brain connections we have the understanding on why we perceive dimensionality in movies that, when we see it with critics eye, there’s not much to see but a lot to hear (and mind see).

In this post, I am going to take back what I said before the movies and technology: that they could be responsible of blurring our imagination with the saturation of our senses.

The use of sounds are a powerful tool to interact with people’s imagination and enrich the movie experience, specially Acousmatic sounds, non diegetic, the use of Acousmere and Anthropocentric use can increase worlds, create characters, bring up emotions, reinforce scenes, give information, … transform and manipulate what we want the audience to live.

Just a quick reminder for later (more for me), one rule on this Hear-View topic by Robert Bresson (seen on class)

The eye solicited alone makes the ear impatient; the ear solicited alone makes the eye impatient. Use these impatiences.’ –

We Audio-view

by Susana Alarcon

This time I am going to extend the comment and open a question on how natural is to see images and hear sounds as part of the same whole.

Michael Chion, the french composer, said that we spectators agree on forget it is a show and choose to believe in this unique entity. Do we really choose it consciously? or is it that in our inner human brain to do it that we don’t even question about it most of the time?


Going back in time, I remember how when I was little, I used to fake voices and sounds when playing with dolls. My family and friends use to play with me in the same way, and though you know you are faking it, it becomes a natural response to make the association and it has being like that for maybe our entire human existence. Now that I play with my nieces, I do the same, and some of them are months old. So would it be in our tradition to show it to little kids, they will get use to it, make the connections of sound and image in their brain, and later on will it be automatic? or the connections are already there, we just make use of them?

In class we saw the movie approach, we movie theater spectators agree to believe in the sound and picture as a whole, but no matter if we learned it or is in our humanity, the relation is there and I think it is applicable to most human experiences.  We relate sound and images without making the conscious decision of putting it all together.


Sound, Picture and Imagination

by Susana Alarcon


In one of the firsts posts, I talked about the close relationship of our senses in our mind, specially the sight and ear and how one can trigger the other in our minds. I reaffirmed the idea in this week presentation, and to add, the experience of having one, two, or more senses influencing our “scene” at the time will be crucial in how we feel it. But, still with this: evolution of media, effects and technology, don’t know if it is best to fill the spectator with all the sensorial components of an experience (IMAX, 3D, Atmos, Seat movement, splashes, smell??) of leave a bit to humans incredible imagination?

As we also discussed in class, and as an example, why then books still tell us histories? and, why we read the book first, the movie seems to be far too short for the book experience?

I guess there is market for both, but it might be kind of scary how technology can be responsible of trimming our imagination.

The music of sounds (Valkyrie)

by Susana Alarcon


Along with the new possibilities in stereo, the use of sounds as music had a strong effect on sound design in the movie and in time. On another interview, ( I found Murch explaining the helicopter sounds and how Concrete Music style, metaphor, realism, hyperrealism and surrealism work with real and synthesized sounds in the movie.

First, I found interesting to point that Murch says he was greatly influenced by Concrete Music when he was like 10, said that, it is pretty normal and usual for him the use of it in his works. Just to remember, Musique concrète is electroacoustic music made in part from acousmatic sounds. In addition to musical instruments and voices, it may use other sources as electronic synthesizers or sounds recorded from nature.

Then, the cavalry-horsemen-Apocalypse thing was bred in the bones of the project of the Valkyrie scene (Murch says). He took separated helicopters as characters and, on the other side, as his “string” instruments in the orchestra. Though he recorded real helicopters, he mimicked with synths the sounds that he wanted to se and play with,  according to the acoustic and heard mechanical characteristics and of course, on what real, hyper or surreal effect he wanted to achieve.

As well as the helicopter sounds, he used sounds of small shots and arms as other instruments (compares them to “woodwinds”), artillery as other and finally voices as vocals.

For closing this, I just can say that this is another tiny piece of the puzzle of the sound designer mind of Murch that works effortlessly in conjunction with all his knowledge and trajectory, when we, audience can live that experience.