• Kelly Warner

What and exactly WHY is "Sound Design?"

Updated: Apr 14, 2018

As a sound creative who works on traditional and eclectic sound design projects in lots of ways, I'll sum up the term "sound design" like this: sound design is the creation of audio intended to drive and guide specific emotional or technical decision-making in the listener. Now there are lots of descriptions of what sound designers do. Some are purely technical. Sure, we can focus on defining by way of the techniques, tools, and lingo, but ultimately sound design's sole reason for existing is to take the listener through a decision-making process that aligns with the producers's intent.


This sounds so brainwashy, doesn't it? But it's true.


Even if it's with just one sound- we carry the listener through a complex cocktail of emotions by way of carefully crafted soundscaping, reaching for a specific sequence of listener reactions. Everything else is just a means to this end. Sound designers who understand this simple fact tend to liberate themselves and their art from preconceived constructs, finding amazing freedom to do whatever it takes to get that listener reaction. Walls crash down as options open up. Whatever works to express and connect.


Sound designers with the audience reaction in mind often find themselves with:


- very little concern for traditions and rules which dictate what styles, tools, and techniques are "correct," but, instead, a crazy hunger for previously scary, off-limits, or seemingly boring styles, tools, and techniques which they now sense will further their craft.


- the ability to create new, innovative, and interesting material because they're not afraid to try new things and reinvent themselves and their art over and over again, and


- a fresh sense of confidence.


Somebody just got a face full of awesome sound design.

Sound design, when set free from rules, comes alive as this "WHATEVER WORKS IN THE MOMENT" sort of massive, fuzzy creature friend. It becomes totally enthralling, a new playground for the creative mind and playful ear. As an inspired sound designer, you let go of what you think you know and focus only on what the listener is going to FEEL as they take that ride with you.


Whatever it takes, no matter how crazy or humble, to guide your listener on that to feel, to love, to cry, to sing, and to feel alive (hey, maybe even to buy) all the while. That's what sound design is, and to me, that's why it exists.


If you're looking for some creative sound design for your upcoming commercial, motion graphic animation, explainer video, or something else, get in touch with me here and let's explore what fresh sound design can do for your visual work!


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