Sound Effects Story

Jeremy is a rather lonely man in a very nice apartment. He inherited the piano in his living room from his grandparents when he was very young, and learned how to play it mostly just because it was there. If he had any dreams of playing professionally, he’s left them behind, content to wake up, go to work, and then come home to the piano and to his cat, Nuisance. Living up to her name, Nuisance has been restless lately. She’s knocked over glasses, stolen Jeremy’s food off of his plate while he was eating, and yelled all night long. Jeremy figured it would be nice to get another cat to keep her company while he was away. However, the two don’t get along quite as well as he’d hoped they would.

This assignment was really interesting to me, and I might have tried it even if it hadn’t been required. Learning about audio storytelling this week and listening to the stories we’ve been directed towards, I’ve found that sound effects are really important in a story.

As was recommended, I started looking for sound effects for my story on freesound.org. I already had an idea for a story in mind, which made browsing for the effects a little easier. Eventually, I gathered up nine sounds: two kinds of thuds, two kinds of dissonant piano noises, the main piano track, the sound of cats fighting, the sound of pages flipping, the sound of a chair creaking, and the sound of a person making shushing noises.

The next step was to put these sounds together on Audacity. I had never used Audacity for anything but recording a single voice before, so I was intimidated by the time it might take to learn how to use it to edit sounds. However, I went ahead and threw myself into it, knowing I would understand the program eventually.

The first step was to open Audacity and my main piano track. I also opened another file with the first of the thudding noises that I downloaded. I then highlighted over the thudding noise, went up to ‘Edit’, and hit ‘Copy’.

After I had copied that bit of audio, I went back to my main piano track and pasted the thudding noise at the end of it.

Before I added any more noises, I wanted to make sure that I got my timing right when the cats fighting jumped in. However, you can’t layer noises and have them play at the same time as each other with only one track. I went up to ‘Tracks’, ‘Add New’, and then clicked ‘Stereo Track’. At first I had clicked ‘Mono Track’, but you can’t copy and past audio onto a Mono Track. So, Stereo Track it was.

Now I could add in the cats fighting while all the startled thudding and discordant piano notes were going on. I opened up the cats fighting audio in another separate Audacity window, copied the section of cat fighting noises that I wanted, and pasted it onto the second track around where the thudding began. I also copied and pasted the second thudding noise so that I could have a better frame of reference. Something important to remember around this point is that you don’t need to paste the audio in the exact perfect spot. In the same way that you can highlight a bit of audio in Audacity and delete it, you can highlight empty space and delete that. You can adjust your track’s position as needed.

Now, you could see a bit of a story with my audio. However, it still needed more flavor. I copied and pasted in my two discordant piano tones, as well as the sound of a chair creaking to signal that Jeremy was paying attention to the cats now. Afterwards, I pasted in the sound of the person shushing the cats. All of the first tracks sounds were sequential, but the continued sounds of the cats fighting underneath it gave it more depth and movement. At that point, I could have called my story done, but I felt that the first part of the story was a little empty and sounded more like an intro to the story than part of the story itself. I went and found the sound of pages turning, to signal that the person was actively playing the piano in the story.

This is where the knowledge that I could delete empty space especially came in handy, as pasting in the pages flipping pushed my cat fighting noises forward and ruined the timing. I simply deleted extra space in between the two noises until the cat fighting audio was back where it had been before.

I exported my story as a .WAV file and uploaded it to Soundcloud. After that, my story was complete! Hopefully, someday, these two cats will see eye to eye.

Guidelines for this assignment can be found here.

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4 Responses to Sound Effects Story

  1. Taylor says:

    I know that when we comment we aren’t necessarily supposed to put “Great job!” but this was wonderful to listen to. Your story flowed wonderfully and made me feel as though I’m personally telling a couple of cats to shhhhhhh!
    I also read through your tutorial and found it quite extensive. I think it’s guaranteed to help someone in the class or in general, so well done. You did fantastic!

  2. Nicole says:

    I like how you were able to accomplish so much in such a short time! I love the cat! And I like the little background story you gave for the clip. Your steps in Audacity are so detailed and obviously helpful. Awesome!

  3. I really liked how you layered your audio, and the background for the story made this entire post really enjoyable!

  4. Tyler Withers says:

    I really liked your use of different sounds in this assignment. I listened to the recording before I read anything so I was very surprised when the story took an unexpected turn and went from a nice relaxing song on the piano to a cat making a bunch of noises in the background.

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