This post is a response to The Landscape Sound Lives In.
The essential point Randy Thom makes in The Landscape Sound Lives In is that making 'physical room' and 'story room' for sound in a film is directly linked with the concept of having the sound team on board early enough that our knowledge and expertise can positively influence the script and shooting of a film where necessary. What particularly interested me most about this post - and what I have decided to run with in my response - is a slightly tangential one: the idea of sound (design) occupying 'story room' within a film. Thom’s description of physical room alludes to a point already discussed in Detail Oriented and my response; a scenario in which there is too much sound - too much numerical detail. However, story room, which Thom describes as a situation where, 'the sounds were basically non sequiturs. There was nothing in the story they could resonate with and/or the scene wasn’t structured visually and dynamically in a way that gave sound design a role,' is a different set of circumstances to try and unpack. I’m intrigued by the idea 'non-following sound’ (from non sequitur), and am confident that that such an outcome, deliberately cultivated, could work with to excellent effect in certain circumstances. It brings to mind a soundscape that sits on top of the story without ever fully engaging with it. In the case where this is not the intended outcome, this could be sound design that is technically and creatively of exceptional quality, but 'sticks to' or 'follows' the story in a rather perfunctory way that ends up detracting from the overall impact of the film.
But if the film soundscape is sequitous and does follow the story, and resonates and interacts with it, what does this actually mean, or what could it involve, from a theoretical point of view, in addition to the more practical result that sound designers work more closely with script and on set decisions? Thinking about this, the fact that objects resonate harmonically and inharmonically suggests to me that in creating harmony and cohesion, sound designers must also create dissonance or tension, and that as much as we should be exploring ways of reinforcing what’s visual and dynamic events, we should also at certain times be seeking ways to disrupt the visual tableau, and interrogate the dynamic trajectory, within a composed sonic ecosystem. One method I have for visualising a soundscape when is to think of all the major sound categories as being as a dynamic tag team. Dialogue, music, foley, effects, sound design, are all on the starting line and at any given point in the race, any one of those elements is in the lead; taking control of the soundscape, providing the focal point, the glue that sticks to the other film layers, namely the visual, character, and story layers. I find this a great way to embrace a more tactile relationship with the aural and visual touch points in a film. And extending this idea to incorporate the theoretical possibilities of how sequitous sound can work, in extricating all these layers; from the aural to the visual, to character and story, so-called resonant frequencies can emerge - literally as well as metaphorically - there will be greater clarity in the task of exploring dissonance, tension, and the admittance of partial frequencies, into the live, resonating soundscape.