This is a response to the post Why Is Sound Important?
I always feel slightly uncomfortable whenever people in the industry say to me, and they often do, 'Sound is so important.' They say that when I tell them I am a sound designer. I feel uncomfortable firstly, because I don’t know what to say in response: there are a multitude of reasons why sound is important, but I have no idea why they think it’s important (and they almost never give a reason why). Secondly, I could talk for a long time in emotional, abstract, but also lucid and objective terms. about why sound is important to me, but that will probably leave the other person a little shellshocked and even quite possibly a little bored. There is no succinct and meaningful reply when someone says, 'Sound is so important.' I have fallen for the empty trap of replying, 'Yes, it is' but actually feel silence might be a better riposte.
There exists this strangely awkward gap between me, a sound designer, and the other person I am talking to, who usually is not a sound designer. However, if I find this gap uncomfortable it may be that it is a gap worthy of consideration, and that rather than shrinking away from it - whereupon the gap becomes a crevasse - maybe I should wade into that gap and probe it, for surely therein lie a lot of (probably unanswered) questions? Of those questions, Thom completely hits the nail on the head when he writes, 'Yes, it’s important to “have sound,” but that is rarely an issue…[t]he real question is WHAT sound there will be, and even more important: Will sound ideas and themes be allowed to influence creative decisions in the other crafts as full collaborators?' In addition to these questions, another critical one is why is (film) sound so difficult to talk about and is it advantageous to develop common ways of talking about it, or would that actually lead to a stymying of creative independence? Also, is (film) sound so subjective that finding commonalities among the many different textures that exist is, while not impossible, trickier, more murky, or even politically sensitive, than when talking subjectively about, say, colour, framing, composition, and shot length?
I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, and even knowing where to begin answering them can seem quite daunting, and it is this lack that results in the uncomfortable feeling I wrote about at the beginning of this post. And which makes it even more important and urgent that ways are discovered to bridge these barriers and begin answering these questions. As sound designers, if we move away from the gap rather than towards it we end up doing ourselves and our specialisation a rather large disservice.