M.J. Melody

Something evil’s lurking from the dark in this Sound Effects Story! In this Audio Assignment, we had to “tell a story using nothing but sound effects. There can be no verbal communication, only sound effects. Use at least five different sounds that you find online. The story can be no longer than 90 seconds.”

This assignment was challenging to say the least! How do you tell a story with only sounds? I searched through the audio resources, and BBC Sound Effects archive to formulate a plan. I conceptualized stories about being a hip young person in the 80’s and ready for a night out on the town. Arcades, malls, movies, and hanging out in parking lots all seemed pretty 80’s, but I had a hard time finding the sounds I wanted. I also didn’t have very long to tell my story, so I honed in on the idea of going to the movies.

My first thought was to have a car pull up (there is certainly no shortage of car sounds), and the car would honk, a woman would walk towards the car, there’d be indistinct chatter between the two, and then they’d drive to the mall, and then they’d go see a movie. All of this was obviously not feasible given the time limit, and also the only sounds of chatter that I could find were of crowds, not of a couple of people. I decided to cut my idea down to just driving off, whereby the driver would arrive at the movies.

I simulated the movie theater by adding crowd sounds. I added shush noises to the end and did a fade out on the crowd (my favorite part because the shhh! was not part of the crowd sound effect, and I think it’s a cool touch). I then added an old projector sound to signal the start of a movie, and added some cinematic sci-fi/horror music and sound effects to give it a tense vibe. During the movie, the movie crowd (and the story listener) hears our protagonist in some kind of distress, and the crowd reacts in shock at what they’re seeing (we can only imagine what). I end off with some end credits music and the indistinct chatter sounds from the audience as they talk about the movie.

I originally thought of ‘Stranger Things’ when I was thinking about what movie my Story crowd would be watching, but when I started writing this post, I couldn’t help but think of M.J.’s ‘Thriller.’ Even though the cinematic sound effects have a kind of sci-fi synth feel to it à la ‘Stranger Things,’ the monster could certainly be anything! A demogorgon, a zombie, the ghost of Michael Jackson, who knows!

Here’s my final result of Sound Effects Story:

(Fun fact: Sci-fi/horror (or fantasy/horror) is the best genre. But they have to be combined just like that. Plain horror isn’t my cup of tea. That’s not really a fact, just a thought I wanted to throw out there).

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