The Whispering Sea But You’re In Another Room…

… and It’s Raining Outside and Your Siblings Are Playing In It and Your Parents Are Making Dinner and You’re Playing Video Games. That’s the title. (Cover art by Matt Rockefeller!) Inspiration taken from the following (anyone else have a Minecraft phase?):

For this assignment, I decided to kind of combine two into one: the Sound Effect Story as well as the Played From Another Room assignment. For the Sound Effect Story (by Martha and Jim Groom), one is supposed 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.” As one can tell below, I have kind of broken the rule by implementing vocals, but I feel like I used enough sound effects simply accompanied by music to tell this story: I added rain, footsteps, sliding door sounds, button clicking, video game controller mashing, kitchen noises, pots/pans clinging, and some voice acting (from yours truly). I recommend you listen to the whole thing and read the following description since there are some surprises –

Honolulu, HI (August 1988) – You watch your dad come out at the sound of rain, his dark hair tousled with fatigue from working all day. It had been oddly dry recently for Hawaii, though Tropical Storm Gilma had finally arrived and had suddenly unleashed the heaviest of rains. Your two younger siblings cheered, jumping up from their NES controllers and hopping over to the glass window. Ian decided to run back and squeeze in one last punch, almost finishing off your character while you were distracted. “Hey!” you exclaim with a voice crack, though he was already off at the window. Your father told them that he would call them in for dinner and they ran outside, baring themselves to the elements. You turn back to your video game, a familiar hand ruffling your hair before Dad went to join your Mom – your Ina – in the kitchen. Listen to fill in the blanks of what happens next:

Before I go into the technicalities, I will include the description of Played From Another Room: “This media assignment has two parts. First, edit a song to sound like it is playing from another room. The audio should sound muffled and the bass should be prominent… The second part of this assignment is to write a weirdly specific description of your song.” I assume the narrative I wrote could be considered a weirdly specific description. This story was inspired by love since it is Valentine’s Day. I don’t really know what it’s like to be with family like that, but this is what I imagine it is like. Something comforting, surrounded by noise and family, yet also having enough space to be alone. Having a mom and dad and siblings – laughter and light – all at once.

Cough. ANYWAYS, I talked about this song a couple of weeks ago and the nostalgia it gives me. My first step was actually to find the cover art, which took a while since I had originally planned to just find a picture of someone using a laptop in bed with a light on in the hallway. I stumbled on this picture by Matt Rockefeller and used what I saw to choose which sounds went into this mix. I converted all the clips I wanted using a YouTube to MP3 converter and combined the auxiliary/one-time sound effects into one track. The music, rain, button-pushing, and other constant noises had their own tracks. I wrote a little script and recorded the lines with Audacity in the Vocal Booth at my university to have the best quality. After that, I cleaned them up with the Noise-Equalize-Normalize process in my last post, though I targeted more bass for the man’s voice and treble for the woman’s.

After that, it was a matter of timing the sounds and balancing them. I had to quiet the kitchen noises when the parents started speaking and increase the volume of the rain for when the sliding door opened. To make each sound distant, I lowered their ‘gain’ before increasing the reverb so they echo throughout their spaces (thus showing distance). Then, I made the sounds more muffled by applying a Low Limit Filter at about 600 Hz to shorten the frequencies and indicate that there is some kind of wall between you and your parents. I used a ‘Studio Fade Out’ (which sounds much fancier than the ‘Fade Out’ tool) to isolate the ambient sounds at the end. That way people can enjoy a brief moment of reflection and lose themselves to this new setting. I wanted to add more sounds like a cat purring and the kids cheering, but it was starting to get rather complex and could take away from the music. I hope you enjoyed it and let your imagination wander!