Terminator 2 Task 7 Sound Design

Here below is the sound design task. All the sounds I used were from freesound.org making sure that the license for each of the samples was cc 1.0. Underneath this text you will find the video and report illustrating and detailing the task and its practical approaches.

Sounds taken from:

Door Creeks

Small motors

Popcorn popping


polariod flash

record scratches


value pump

bus door

apple crunch



metal clank

digital camera flash



My objective was to create a sound design sequence for Terminator 2.

Visual element/s highlighted

One of the parts I wanted to highlight was at 0.06’ where the robotic arms are moving in unison when drilling the robot body. I wanted to capture its smooth motion using the sound of a door squeak which changes pitch up or down dependant on its forward or back movement.

The composers approach you adopted:

From watching the film THX 1138 I closely observed how Walter Murch’s sound design played an integral part in capturing a scene’s context.  In the scene where Robert Duvall is getting examined, all the little arms and devices have sounds, which replicate small motors, clicks, pops and gyros giving the robotic parts a brittle and mechanical sound.

A MIDI/ sequencer technique you learnt:

A new audio technique I made use of was the piano roll’s automation control, which allowed easy pitch manipulation of selected samples through my self made exs24 SFX instrument.

What did you learn through this task that is an example of practice as research?

This task is practice as research as through experimenting with a large array of everyday sounds I gradually found ways of creating gestures which implied/suggested/etc the motion of a selected object. An example of this was my use of pitch to give an impression of a speeding up drill filament as it began to perforate the metal body frame.

What mark for this task would you award yourself and why?

I would give myself a 70% as I have created a piece that explores how sound can be manipulated in an accurate fashion to make a sound design piece believable and contain a strong amount of attention to detail.

Word Count: 247


THX 1138.1970.[dvd] George Lucas. America: Warner Bros


Percussion Task 6 – American Beauty

Here below are some pictures of the cymbal recordings which were adding to the score aswell as a report and video of the score itself!

The microphone was placed over the ‘bell’ of the cymbal (including inverted cymbal) to achieve a sound that would contain obvious the various harmonics the cymbals produced. I exsperimented with different mallets, fingers, pencil and a woollen mallet. The tones were then further varied through how hard I played and where I struck the mallet. The effect was meant to capture the cymbals tones from “Root Beer”.





My objective for the task was to create a percussion score for a selected clip from “American Beauty”.

Visual element/s highlighted

One part I wanted to highlight was at 1.47’ where we see the eruption of the rose petals. The bursting motion was captured using an ascending muted harp in conjunction with a cymbal being hit harder and harder with a soft mallet.

The composers approach you adopted:

I wanted to capture Thomas Newman’s use of percussion in “Root Beer”, especially the cymbal playing.  I experimented with different mallets whilst hitting the instrument at different areas in various dynamics to try and achieve contrasting percussive colours.

A MIDI/ sequencer technique you learnt:

A new sequencer technique I learnt was the use of syncing the music from the cheerleader performance. This was done by accurately chopping the audio in the sample editor before finding its tempo through the locators.

A music technique you learnt through doing the task:

A music technique I learnt was the use of creating polyrhythms through layering simple beats on top of each other often giving the impression of complex rhythms.

What did you learn through this task that is an example of practice as research?

My experimentation of using exs24’s ethnic samples gave me control over a sound’s characteristics through changing midi parameters. An instance is pitching the percussion to extreme low and high ranges.

What mark for this task would you award yourself and why?

I would give myself a 70% as I have used percussion in a way that shows stylistic traits of the original track “Root Beer” with special attention to re-creating the cymbal sounds found within the original score.

Word Count: 243

Scoring for Woodwind Task (Fantasia)

UPDATE: The video quality below is now a much better quality of video than the last version! 🙂



My objective was to compose a piece using woodwind instrumentation to the ‘Firebird’ section from Fantasia 2000.

Visual element/s highlighted

The clip demonstrates two clear contrasts; firstly nature’s spirit exploring the smoke from the crater and secondly to the dramatic eruption of the volcano which leads into a chase scene. I took inspiration from Stravinsky’s  ‘Firebird’  & ‘Rite of Spring’ as a basis for my composition.

The composers approach you adopted:

An aspect of “ The Rite of Spring- Part 2” in which I wanted to interpret was the staccato string motif. I used a similar string rhythm in my piece incorporating other instrumentation to play melody lines often on an offbeat on top of the steady pulse.

A MIDI/ sequencer technique you learnt:

In terms of technical findings, I made special use of the velocity MIDI parameter. This created a more dynamic orchestral setting that could better reflect the visuals.

A music technique you learnt through doing the task:

A music technique I learnt was woodwind colouration through listening to Stravinsky’s style of this technique and then applying it to my piece.

What did you learn through this task that is an example of practice as research?

Through emulating Stravinsky I learnt about how he uses ascending and descending scales of melodic motifs to link contrasting parts of the score together. I found through applying this it helped my piece have smoother transitions from one musical cue to the next.

What mark for this task would you award yourself and why?

I would award this task a 70 mark as I feel the extensive research and compositional process has improved my orchestral skills required to hopefully work effectively with the clip.

Word count: 246



Adler,Samuel. (1982). Scoring for Woodwinds. In: n/a The Study of Orchestration. London: W.W Norton and Company. 214-217.


IGOR STRAVINSKY. 1967. The Rite of Spring. Music Score. London: Boosey and Hawkes Publishers Limited

North By Northwest Score

The Original Score:

Here below is the video of the Re-Score for the film North by Northwest. The reason its slightly lower quaility than the file given is because my computer could not handle a ‘mov’ in logic so I had to convert to mp4 🙂




 My objective for this task was to compose a score using brass instrumentation for the film North By Northwest.

Visual element/s highlighted

The part I especially wanted to highlight was at 0.58’ where the plane turns round and dives towards the main character. The pitch and texture of the ostinato gradually increases, creating tension and suspense, which are relieved in a climactic crescendo once the plane has narrowly missed the character.

The composers approach you adopted:

I developed my piece based on Bernard Herman’s main theme for ‘North By Northwest’. The main theme is based on call and response in the brass section and begins in the key of Am before being modulated to the minor 7th (Gm) in the second phrase. I implemented this throughout my piece using not only the call and response method but also similar instrumentation and tonality.

A MIDI/ sequencer technique you learnt:

For the first time I used the exs24 zone editor to trigger the different brass variations through inputting MIDI triggers from the piano roll.

A music technique you learnt through doing the task:

Musically I used several instrumental playing techniques including glissando, staccato, legato and trills to create variation within the brass arrangement.

What did you learn through this task that is an example of practice as research?

This is practice as research as I attempted to added realism to my orchestral score by using elastic time. This was extremely effective at 58’ where the increase in tempo illustrates the planes acceleration.

What mark for this task would you award yourself and why?

I would give this task a 70% because I successfully explored the areas of the brass family with reference to Bernard Herrmann’s original score in an attempt to create a piece that would seem similar to fit the musical context of the film.

Word count: 254



n/a. (n/a). North By Northwest – Bernard Hermann. Available: http://www.soundtrack-express.com/osts/northbynorthwest.htm. Last accessed 25/2/2011.

Chosen themes from Psycho

For this task I wanted to make the score relevant to the original by taking some of themes and then making variations from theme. I took around four different themes in total. Here they are below!

Theme 1

As you will hear when listening to my score the main parts of the composition are constructed through this theme. I really wanted to using this as a backbone for the composition and I feel it really works. The variations upon this theme are broad, obvious and in some cases very subtle!

Theme 2

The classic theme that everyone knows! This was used within the score at points of climax mostly once the tension had built. Such a scene when the women wakes up and this notes are played when shot of the cops face is at the window.

Psycho Task 3

Here below is the video and the new score for the film Physco (1960)



My objective was to compose a score for a section of the film Psycho.

Visual element/s highlighted

I particularly wanted to highlight the section where the lady is responding to the officer’s questions. I used a clear ostinato which used a call and response technique so that the phrase rose in pitch every time the lady answered the policeman’s question, to imply tension.

The composers approach you adopted:

The composition for this clip was inspired by Bernard Herman’s score for “Psycho”. I wanted to approach this task by using the film’s original theme but incorporating what I had learned from the “themes and variation” task to recycle and manipulate the themes in a creative manner.

A MIDI/ sequencer technique you learnt:

A MIDI editor I used was the piano roll. I used it for syncing parts carefully and accurately to ensure that the musical changes happened in cohesion with the visuals.

A music technique you learnt through doing the task:

A musical technique I used in this clip was the manipulation of notes within a theme to create variations, such as applying augmentation and diminution to the intervals between the notes.

What did you learn through this task that is an example of practice as research?

I found how to emphasize tension within the scene by creatively exploring the use of strings and certain unusual playing techniques of this instrument to create tension that would fit the context of the clip.

What mark for this task would you award yourself and why?

I would give this task a 65% mark  as I feel, through practice as research that my score is similar to the original with variations of the theme through the experimentation of arranging for strings.

Word count: 248

Strings the basics!

Stringed Instrument note ranges:

Violin range: G3-A7

Viola range: C3-E6

Cello range: C2- C6

Double Bass range: C2-C5

Some Stringed Instrument Playing Techniques:

Vibrato: This a difficult technique to accomplish on a strings instrument. It is created by the finger  being placed on the neck of the instrument which then moves slightly up or down with pressure creating a sound of the note ‘flexing’ back and fourth.

Glissando:  This is a slide effect sometimes used as a transition between two notes, a glide if you will from one note to the other.

Trill: This technique is where the string player plays one note then quickly applying another finger just after the first note then choosing between the too notes and the trill speed.

Tremolo: This effect is created with a exstremely fast motion on the bow. Quickly moving up and down, the speed at which to the players preference. Of course the quicker the movement the more difficult it is to distinguish.

Staccatto: This is a more harsher tone separating the notes playing one at a time. The bow is pressed hard onto the strings and then the bow moves once for this technique, per note. It can not be a smooth motion otherwise it would then be classed as a legato technique. This affect is great for more rhythmic sections.

Spicatto: This technique is similar to ‘staccato” the difference being that the string is bounced on by the bow it still has a sharp attack however a much shorted release.

Legato:  This effect generates a smooth motion from the constant bow movement of ‘up and down’. This motion means that the notes that are played are smoothly transitioned from one to the other.



n/a. (n/a). Range of Instruments. Available: http://www.orchestralibrary.com/reftables/rang.html. Last accessed 18/2/2011.

n/a. (2001). String Technique Glossary. Available: http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~leonid/glossary.htm. Last accessed 18/2/2011.