Why Sound?

I have had a cold the past couple of days… speaking of cold, has anyone seen winter? Its a lovely 60+ degrees here in Nashville TN and seeing how we just transitioned back from Florida, the weather hasn’t exactly been a challenge to get used to. I hope that I will soon be working on another TV pilot. The script and preproduction has been put into motion, and after a little funding is acquired to the producers of the pilot, we will be able to get the show on the road (so to speak).

I’ve come to terms with a few professional struggles lately. I have rarely considered sound design to be an art, more so a technical field and one that encompasses a life time of learning and talent growth. Then I realized the second half of that statement actually makes sound design an ART!

I feel like it might be good to explain WHY I choose sound design as my vocation. There are other areas that may be exponentially easier and more profitable. Why sound?

Let me explain: close your eyes and picture a train… can you see it? GOOD! Because I can not. My ability to mentally picture things is very weak. Unless the imagined image has some kind of strong emotional tie, I have a hard time picturing images. It’s all just sounds to me. No, my actual vision is fine, it’s my mental capacity to form a picture in my head that I struggle with. However, imagine the sound of the train… for a large population they just said “CHOO CHOO” in their head. However, I heard the steam letting out, clamoring heels on a tile walk way as passengers board, the squeal of other trains as they break into the station, even the trains conductor punching the tickets as people board. I heard all these sound in my head at once, I didn’t have to think twice about it. Yet, to describe what the place looks like, would be a lot harder for me to put into words.

I love movies and TV, but I find so much more of the experience in the “sound” of the story being told. If you ever have coffee with me at a cafe, you may think I am easily distracted or that I am not paying attention. That’s not the case, I am trying to retain every word you are saying, but at the same time, my brain also hears the little things around us. Most people can filter those sounds out and focus on a single audible path. I, on the other hand, typically hear multiple things simultaneously and my brain attempts to depict it as its own portrait, like a “soundscape”.

I like the term “soundscape” because it is the best way to define how I imagine things in my head. Sound design is such a large part of the creative process. In movies and TV it is literally 50% of the senses being used in entertainment. Even the silent movie era had to have some music playing in the background… sound is half of the experience.

So, I just want to be good at my craft, my art, and do my half of the 100%.

-Lee Kebler