Silent Sounds

Made by Ivan Wang

This piece combines voice (recording of "The Sound of Silence"), loops, and sound to create an ambient effect.

Created: November 16th, 2014


Building on my voice recording of "The Sound of Silence," I added reverb, background music, and sound effects to create ambience in this piece.

Artistic voice processing: I modified the lengths of pauses in between phrases so that they aligned with the rhythm of the background music. In addition, I cut out a slip-up in the last few seconds of the recording. I also added a reverb effect to emphasize the emptiness of the piece and the motifs of silence and loneliness.

Loops: In each phrase, I added a loop or sound effect to highlight the theme of the lyrics. The introduction consists of footprints walking in silence (see Beginning section). The first phrase adds a slow, somber background loop; I chose a slow tempo since the lyrics are dark and empty rather than fast-paced or exciting. Next, the footprints returned as the narrator mentions "walk[ing] alone / [on] narrow streets of cobblestone." For the third verse, I included quieted sounds of chatter from my previous project, for the idea of "people talking without speaking... hearing without listening." Finally, the last verse uses the patter of rain ("my words like silent raindrops fell") as ambience.

Beginning: I used the concept of an incomplete gesture to create suspense. The introduction consists of 7 rhythmic footsteps and a pause. Not quite a multiple of 3 or 4, 7 creates a short break before the first phrase, which arrives suddenly and without transition. This abrupt shift breaks the listener's expectations and hopefully engages his or her interest.

Form: The form of the piece is a phrase group consisting of 4 phrases: each one a verse from the original song. In the structure, symmetry holds: each phrase ends with "sound of silence" and a natural pause in my reading. By adding a different background sound in each phrase, I created variety so as not to bore the listener.

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This piece combines voice (recording of "The Sound of Silence"), loops, and sound to create an ambient effect.