A Sound Design Project For Theater
I just started working on creating sound design for Fordham University’s theater department. It’s a mainstage production of the play Magnolia, by Regina Taylor, which is a re-telling of the Cherry Orchard in 1963 Atlanta, Georgia. It takes place right in the midst of the civil rights era and the sounds of that time period.
The biggest challenge is creating this sonic montage which is to open the piece. Taylor, who is also directing, wants to evoke a backwards countdown from present day into the past. It’s challenging and exciting. Given all the events in the news lately regarding racial discrimination, it feels very timely.
To start with, I began gathering source audio to sample in this newsreel type audio event.
Here’s some of the sources i gathered:
- https://youtu.be/MehbhCImpwM (Walter Cronkite announces regular news in 1962)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WbLGlIzW88 (Chet Huntley TV broadcast:Integration of schools)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGIs4LGZe8M (RFK Assassination CBS News)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBm48Scju9E (Civil rights marches with MLK)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9ACS4PgDFA (racism and segregation compilation of footage)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzTkHrRkhpA (Interview with Rosa Parks)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6C-kBVggFrs (George Wallace Segregation Now!)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oehry1JC9Rk ( MLK’s last speech I’ve been to the mountaintop)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vDWWy4CMhE (MLK- I have a dream)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCrx_u3825g (RFK announces MLK’s death)
- https://youtu.be/_vGQDBbO-fg (Every Presidential Oath Of Office )
Watching these videos, I found it impossible not to get caught up in the moment. Especially the coverage of Bobby Kennedy’s assassination. I got so choked up.
After exporting some of these audios using an online tool, I had a file folder from which I could import into my digital audio workstation of choice, LogicProX.
Here’s a screenshot of my session today.
What a crazy mess! I started by just laying down a basic beat and bass line to give some kind of structure. Later I’m going to add a tempo map that ramps up to add to the excitement.
As we were listening to these ideas, my assistant engineer (my 14 year old son Alejandro), suggested a possible unifying idea: to take each President’s oath going backwards in time from present to 1963. Brilliant!
So that’s where we’re at so far. I have a terrible first mix that I don’t want to bore you with just yet. Lots more to do and in the process of updating my sonic palette by updating my Spectrasonics Omnisphere. That’s a way cool virtual synthesizer. Ok, more later!