The Sound of Suspense….

Three cowboys wait for a train in the heat of the midday sun. A rusty rail road sign creaks in it’s hinges, breaking the intense silence. A train pulls in, leaving nothing but the sound of an eerie Harmonica looping over and over. Inspired by Sergio Leone’s ‘Once Upon A Time In The West’ which as a result of both sound and image is undoubtedly one of the most moving films I’ve ever experienced, I’ve been looking on the web for articles about the use of sound in film. appears to be the place to go and below is what Randy Thom (nice name) feels are the talents that can be attibuted to film-sound. Fittingly, reading this has helped me to understand the reasons why music not specifially made for film can feel very cinematic, the obvious examples being Pink Floyd, Cinematic Orchestra, Godspeed You Black Emperor (GYBE) and Radiohead’s later stuff (love for all of these).

Much more recently and closer to home,  D1 is a master of cine music in the making.

Blackdown and Dusk’s Drenched opens with the sound of a rainy train ride well and truly sets a scene, and a wise old slightly mystical Jamaican character known as Spaceape frequents Kode9’s aural environments.

Loefah’s use of film dialogue creates the tense suspense at the beginning of Goat Stare and Horror ShowFBC Fabric are seemingly influenced by Spaghetti Western’s and like Kode9 have the bonus of verse to thicken the plot.  Andy Skopes has got an epic futuristic sounding wannabe film score in the making (working title of I Came Down), Horsepower Productions who have been doing it for years and many more that I haven’t mentioned. Shouts to all of you potential film sound designers- now we just need to find some willing film writers and directors to create some film specifically to match the music…

“Sound’s Talents (film)
Music, dialogue, and sound effects can each do any of the following jobs, and many more:

*  suggest a  mood, evoke a feeling
*  set a pace
*  indicate a geographical locale
*  indicate a historical period
*  clarify the plot
*  define a character
*  connect otherwise unconnected ideas, characters, places,  images, or moments
*  heighten realism or diminish it
*  heighten ambiguity or diminish it
*  draw attention to a detail, or away from it
*  indicate changes in time
*  smooth otherwise abrupt changes between shots or scenes
*  emphasize a transition for dramatic effect
*  describe an acoustic space
*  startle or soothe
*  exaggerate action or mediate it ”

Read the rest of the article here:


One response to “The Sound of Suspense….

  1. I absolutely LOVE Once Upon A Time…That Italian/American style throughout the film is stunning. And the cinematography (sp?) is to die for.It’s up there with Paris, Texas for me. European takes on American culture seem to hit the mark. Paris also uses some of that sparse, but poignant guitar throughout. Great stuff.

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