Theatrical Sound Design

This page is a sorted collection of what I feel are the most useful posts about theatrical sound design.


So What Is Theatrical Sound? -- an overview of the responsibilities of a Sound Designer.
The Basics of Sound Design --  the different kinds of effects used in the play or musical.
The Basics of Sound Design II --  playback types, and the Show Book.
 My Theater
The (Abbreviated) Design Process -- how a show really gets designed, more often than not.

Creating and Using Sound Effects:

Six Simple Rules for Getting a Good Voice-Over Recording -- basics of recording vocal effects.
 Sound Effects for the Musical --  how sound effects in a musical are different from a play.
What is QLab? -- an introduction to the popular Mac-based effect playback program,
 Creating a Sound Effect --  building a complex effect through audio editing and multi-track.
Anatomy of a Sound Effect -- dissection of an actual cue I created for a production.
A Complex Cue Sequence -- chaining and laying multiple cues in QLab
From Beijing... -- analysis and description of two very different sound designs, with examples.
Moon Over Buffalo -- a change-up; selections of material from a late design with recorded commentary instead of notes.

Using and Maintaining Wireless Microphones:

A Few Simple Rules for Wireless --  a checklist for achieving decent sound with wireless mics.
The Two Nations of Sound Reinforcement -- a philosophy of sound reinforcement.
 The Basics of Mic'ing a Cast -- creating a Mic Plot.
 The Basics of Mic'ing a Cast II -- determining frequencies.
 The Basics of Mic'ing a Cast III -- attaching the mics to the actors.
 The Basics of Mic'ing a Cast IV --  mixing the mics at the sound board.
Mic Positions Reviewed --  more about attaching microphone elements to actors.
How to Build a Mic Bag -- a How-To on building the belt that holds the transmitter to the actor.
 The Kids Speak Out -- special notes for wireless microphone use in children's theater.
 I Hate Wireless Mics --why wireless mics break, and why they don't magically fix the singing.

Creating and Using Music in Stage Plays:

Music For the Stage --  drop-needle versus live versus pre-recorded pros and cons.
Composition For the Stage -- the bare rudiments of writing original music for the stage.
A History in Gear -- several example compositions from various productions, with technical notes.
End of an Epic Era -- a slanted discussion of the history and trends of synthesized music.

Microphones, Mixing, and the Pit Orchestra:

Sound Design: Tricks to Get You Through -- basic set-up for the pit orchestra.
In the Pits -- how monitors and backline leakage conspire to destroy the sound of your orchestra.
Seeing Sound --  a way to envision the interaction of microphones, speakers, and the space.
Drums of the Gone South -- why the drummer is the most critical element of the pit.
Two Mistakes -- samples from two large pit orchestras.
Design Constraints -- samples from minimalist pit orchestras, recorded in performance.


Better Living Through Chemistry --  several products useful to the sound engineer.
Sphagettification --  caring for your cables.
What has it Gots in its Pocketses? --  the Gig Bag and the indispensible tools.
But Soft, What Ware.. -- current fantastically useful freeware and shareware software tools.
Software Tools --  freeware and shareware sound design tools for the Mac.
The Cert --  a philosophy of organizing paperwork.
Mic Station and Medical Dispensery  -- useful products for the care of wireless mics.

Technical Tricks -- Theater as a Hackerspace:

Stupid Sound Tricks -- practical examples of theatrical sound "hacks" from real productions.
 How Do I Apply QLab to Rafter in Theater? --  an introduction to MIDI tricks for live theater.
 MIDI and the Arduino I --  "hello world" in MIDI for the Arduino; sending a MIDI signal.
MIDI and the Arduino II --  receiving MIDI on the Arduino.
Stone Knives and Bearskins --  a view from the trenches, when "hacker" means duct tape and hope.
A Quick Hack --fun with QLab, MIDI, and an XBee-outfitted Staples Easy Button.
How to Ring a Phone from QLab -- a chain of QLab, Processing, and Arduino leading to a practical phone.


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  7. Great tips and thoughts on theater sound! Thanks.