Sound Design - 2008

Well - Milwaukee Chamber Theatre

Laura Gordon, Director

Well featured a soundtrack that functioned to introduce a series of vigenettes and establish time and location. Much of that soundtrack was made up of popular music from ranging from the late '60's to early 80's as reinterpreted by orchestras specializing in "elevator music". The best of which was a version of Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are" for pan flute. The one sound effect was a 80's era hospital room nurse's station call buzzer. 


Arms and the Man - UWM PSOA Theatre

Michelle Lopez-Rios, Director

Arms and the Man was a faithful production that featured Bulgarian and Russian folk music for interludes and shifts. Several dynamic gun battles were required in the early minutes of the production. Late 19th century bolt action rifles provided the sound. Distance was achieved through equalization and speaker placement with a small bit of offstage subwoofer providing some punch. While I wait for production photos to become available, here's a shot of me doing another part of my job and building some scenery.


1001 - UWM PSOA Theatre

Rebecca Holderness, Director

1001 featured a full original score (published under the title Mistaken for History). Certainly one of my most ambitious compositional projects, work on the music started in December of 2007. In addition to the music, 1001 demanded the creation of the the mother of all explosions and while I couldn't quite get parts of the building to chip off, the effect served the purpose quite well.


The Caucasian Chalk Circle - UWM PSOA Theatre

Raeleen McMillion, Director

All of the sound effects and underscoring for The Caucasian Chalk Circle was performed live by the actors and crew. The live soundscape was achieved by building a series of stylized instruments including shakers, hiroshigi (think claves), and a one-string bass later dubbed a "tonestick". By manipulating these and other specific noisemakers along with choreographing body and vocal sounds (devised by Michelle Lopez-Rios), the various environments and moods of the play were supported. Variety and ambience was created by placing performers in various locations, including backstage and in the seating aisles. The play also featured three songs adapted from the script by the director Raeleen McMillion. The recordings here are of her singing the songs for rehearsal use. Thy were then digitally manipulated to sketch arrangements and conform to the desired rhythms.


Of Mice and Men - UWM PSOA Theatre

Rebecca Holderness, Director

For this production, a nearly continuous soundtrack of ambience was created that supported environment and mood. In order to pull focus to key moments, this soundtrack would be suspended, letting the resulting silence create the tension. In effect, the method is a kind of reverse sound design. Instead of creating interest by adding underscoring, interest was created by subtracting sound. The result was rather dramatic. Speakers were arrayed onstage in direct proximity to the action, giving individual sounds an identity through location. Many effects had a consistant location while wind and atmospheric sounds would move and swirl throughout the theatre. Randomizing techniques and the built-in algorhythms of LIVE were extensively used to make the scaping truly organic and ever-changing, Unfortunately, the recordings here can only be stereo mix downs of what was a very spatial presentation.


Talley's Folly - Milwaukee Chamber Theatre

C. Michael Wright, Director

Like Of Mice and Men that I did around the same time, the sound design of Talley's Folly exploited the use of environmental ambient sounds during periods of lightness and basic exposition, leaving silence to punctuate moments that demanded more focus. The ambience served to "change the air" in the theatre and allow the audience to take a breath and relax for a moment before the script turned to another of many critical moments. A basic 4 point speaker configuration was utilized to create a surround sound type mix down in the mini-opera house of the Broadway Center's Cabot Theatre. I've also included a couple of comedy-inspired dog bark examples that are used near the top of the show to re-inforce the playwright's desire to acknowledge the theatrical construct - at least before suspending our disbelief with the play's touching end.