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Introduction to Sound and Acoustic Sketching

University St. Joseph via Kadenze


Introduction to Sound and Acoustic Sketching will offer tools and practices  to inspire students to approach sound and acoustics as elements in the sketching stage of a design project.

The course provides students with foundational knowledge and practical tools to analyze and use soundscapes and acoustic impulse responses in projects. In addition, a basic taxonomy of sound terms will be introduced, allowing students to develop a language for communicating and establishing dialogues about sound with all stakeholders in an audiovisual project. The practical component of the course is anchored in exercises that allow students to experiment and assimilate the different aspects of sound and acoustic sketching, namely:

• Sound Walks – Students practice “deep listening”, “sound scripting” and sound recording;

• Sound Browsing and Retrieving – Students learn how to obtain free sounds (using the Free Online Sound Repository and build up a scripted inventory in the process of sound design;

• Sound Editing – Students learn how to produce a creative sound montage based on their acoustic memory and a sound design script, using the free multi-platform sound editing software Audacity;

• Critical Sound Review – By comparing the sound sketch produced in this exercise with the actual recording of the sound walk, students can develop critical insights about the their conceptual perception and representation of an acoustic phenomena, in comparison with the factual recording of the same event;

• Acoustic Mapping by Impulse Response – Students learn how to record an acoustic impulse response from a physical space;

• Acoustic Imprinting by Convolution – Students learn how to imprint a pre-recorded acoustic response in an original audio content, producing an acoustic simulation for an architectural space, using free multi-platform sound programing environment Pure Data/Chuck.

Upon the completion of these exercises, students will produce two sound sketches: designing a soundscape based on their recollection of sound events, and simulating an acoustic space, based on analogous impulse responses from similar spaces.

Furthermore, students will gain introductory experience using the using the free online sound repository, the free multi-platform sound editing software Audacity and the free multi-platform sound programing environment Pure Data (or Chuck).



Session 1: Sound And Acoustics 
In this session, students will learn to distinguish between different elements in sound taxonomy, and sound facets and characteristics. We will also get familiar with the human hearing system. By the end of this session students will be able to comprehend basic acoustics and sound propagation in space. Session 2: Soundscapes And Sound Walk 
In this session, students will understand the Concept and origin of soundscapes and recognize Soundscapes according to Schafer’s Categories (sound signals, keynote sounds, soundmarks, geophony, biophony and anthrophony). Session 3: Sound Browsing And Retrieving 
In this session, students will learn how to browse and download sounds from and understand how to create a repository of sounds according to a sound script. Session 4: Sound Editing And Soundscape Sketching 
This session will cover the basics of editing with Audacity. At the end of this session, students will understand the concept of soundscape sketch. Session 5: Critical Sound Review 
In this session, students will develop a critical sense of analysis for different moments of a soundscape and understand the difference between factual recording of soundscapes and a designed soundscape. Session 6: Acoustic Mapping By Impulse Response 
In this session we will cover the concept of impulse response of architectural space. Session 7: Acoustic Imprinting By Convolution 
In this session, students will learn the concept of convolution and how to implement it with Pure-Data or Chuck.

Taught by

Álvaro Barbosa


5.0 rating, based on 4 Class Central reviews

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  • Miles Decoster completed this course.

    This is one of the shorter courses that I have done on Kadenze but it still covered a couple of very interesting topics and I found it quite valuable for the work I am doing. The idea of the soundscape is not new, but when doing things like video/film it is easy to just let the visuals do a lot of the work and not pay sufficient attention to the acoustic space. Actually doing the Impulse Response recordings was a great exercise and I am doing lots of them now. That activity also sharpens my ability to focus on acoustic properties when recording in general.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    The course provided a new direction for my music with the introduction soundscape recordings. The course should the technical and creative aspects required.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Very good course and interesting to learn from a professor in Macau and learn how they teach this subject matter. Great to get a global perspective.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    The course is really good. It is a perfect tool for visual artists (like me) who wish to work on their 'sound illiteracy'.

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