Technical Production - Sound

Technical knowledge: In your portfolio of research there must be evidence of technical equipment that can be used in producing sound for performance and how to set this up.

Balance and sound effects (SFX): There needs to be a levels and cue sheet drawn up. (By levels we mean the volume at which the sound will be relayed and a cue sheet is a marked script that tells the candidate when to play and stop a sound.)

Interpretation: You need to use sound to reflect and enhance the overall piece appropriately, interpreting the theme and creatively using sound to communicate with the audience.

Accurate operation of sound: The sound design needs to be operated and realised in performance with a mixture of live (e.g. banging a table for a slammed door) and pre-recorded sounds and a minimum of eight cues.

Collaborative skills: You should be part of the whole process and understand the importance of your role in the bigger picture. You need to be able to work with others; compromise, and your performance should make a telling contribution to the overall piece.


To be successful

Advice or tips to help you


· Preparing your equipment

· Learn how to use the equipment

· Ask a teacher to show you how the equipment that you are using works.

· Have a clear drawing for your sound system

· You are not expected to rig the sound system, but you do need to tell someone what equipment you will need and where you would like it. A clear drawing of the position of the equipment shows that you are aware of how the sound effects will enhance the performance.

· Make a list of what equipment you have and how you could use it in the performance

· Check you can use all the equipment that you need. Are you mixing sounds live? Have you created some of the sounds on the computer? You need a mixture of different sounds.


· Planning your sound cues

· Ensure you have a minimum of 8 cues. They need to be a mixture of live and pre-recorded cues

· Pre-recorded music can either be music you have downloaded or adapted from work you have created on a computer programme.

· You need to make a list of what sound cues you might need

· By making a list you can make sure that you have a mixture of live and pre-recorded cues. Also, does it match with the ideas that the group has?

· Ensure you have enough sound cues

· Talk to your teacher and ask for help. To get a good grade you need to have 8 cues - so try your best to have a good variety. You could even maybe use a rain stick or knock a piece of wood to mark a sharp noise - that counts as a sound cue!


· Deciding what equipment will you need

· Ensure you can use the sound system

· Ask your teacher to show you how the sound system works.

· Learn about the mixing desk

· Each centre has a different desk and most guides are downloadable from the internet. A good place to start is with the master volume, and then experiment to see what faders work and what the maximum volume is.

· Consider how loud to play the music

· When you are working with the group, ask whether the sound effect needs to be the only thing heard by the audience at that point or is it in the background to help create an atmosphere. Write the sound level on your cue sheet to ensure that it is the same every time the piece is performed.


· Creating an atmosphere

· Ensure your sound effects match the style of the piece that the group is performing

· Try to choose a few examples for the moments that you have selected that need a sound effect. This will give the group a choice. If you are selecting backing tracks, try to download more than one version to give the singer a choice.

· Consider whether you need an emotional reaction from the audience

· Decide on what emotional reaction you want from the audience and experiment to see if it works.


· Research the background to the piece

· Determine what the piece is about

· The start of your presentation needs to explain to the examiner/teacher the content of the piece, and your first ideas for the sound.

· Research into different possibilities for your sound effects

· You need to be able to justify why you have chosen the effects for your piece. Take each effect in turn and play/show how you are creating the effect to the examiner/teacher.


· Cue sheet

· Make sure you use your cue sheet wisely

· A cue sheet is the list with all your effects on it. Download the example. It needs to have a clear pattern. Make sure that you put down the sound/volume level that each effect will be played and when it happens.


· Timing of cues

· Ensure that all cues/sound effects happen on time

· The timing depends on the atmosphere that you are trying to create. So a slow crossfade will help the audience consider what has just happened on stage.

· You could ruin a performance by not putting your cues up at the right time. A performer could be waiting for a sound cue which does not arrive and then does not come on stage. Remember you are part of the team to make a successful performance.