Mount Anville Primary – Session 12 – Artist: Michelle Read

Session 12 – Wednesday 14th May 2014

We started the session by listening back to each of the ambient sound tracks that the children made last week. I thought they all worked really well and I was very impressed by how effectively the girls worked to create very distinct pieces.

I had given each group a location for their next scene and asked them to “brainstorm” the sounds that they thought might conjure that place up for the listener. The locations were On The Plane, The Beach, The Cave, The Volcano, The Jungle and Alaska. Each group worked with the equipment at hand and sounds that they could make orally to create these six locations.

On the Plane – our heroines have, after all, stolen a light aircraft for their adventure – was created with playing cards in the spokes of (Miss Lawlor’s) upside down bicycle. The girls found that using the pedals to drive the wheels was more effective than spinning the wheels manually and gave a more consistent and realistic light aircraft sound. They also had the idea of adding a piece of classical music – something that Yvette might like to play when she’s flying. Miss Lawlor found them a classic piece of Bach, and this is the witty master-stroke that makes Up in the Plane characterful as well as realistic sounding. The group also added in some nice atmospherics too with the spinning tube.

After listening to The Beach soundtrack the class fed-back that it was definitely a tropical beach. This group had made the beach sound idyllic by using lentils in a cardboard tube for the tide, some water being played into different vessels for splashes, some sandy-shifting noises made with beaded percussion instrument and some amazing wildlife sounds – sea birds and a dolphin – made by the girls themselves to add to the tropical feel.

Meanwhile, the Jungle had both a squelchy muddy feel as well as some crunchy, leaves-under-foot parts. This group had also used a small drum to add a constant but erratic beat, which the class felt added an interesting element of tension and the definite suggestion of human habitation.

The group who made the Volcanic Island used the class bin and some tubing to blow big slow bubbles that sounded great against the snaps and pops they created from bubble wrap and a roll-up ruler. They also added in some atmospherics with the spinning tube, which gave a sense of height for me. We all thought this volcano might not be about to blow, but was probably very exciting to be around as it seemed to be throwing out sparks and cinders.

Inside The Cave this group had created a low-level hum, the channelling of water and the sound of a bat made with a phone book and fantastic verbal squeak. Using Audacity, the freeware editing software, I was able to cut and paste the bat and pop it back into the soundtrack a few more times. I also added some echo giving the cave a slightly different acoustic.

And last but not least, the group who created the Alaska soundtrack made great use of the spinning tube to create an eerie whistling wind-like sound, that worked really well with a “singing” glass, which suggests, in a wonderfully non-literal way, the glittery, tinkling of ice. They also used some crunching cornflakes to give a sense of the snow shifting and moving.

After listening to each piece and giving our feedback, it was then time to focus our attention back to the dialogue for each scene. I gave each group some prompts and ideas to work with and asked them to keep their soundtrack in mind as inspiration for the scene.

The groups worked at different speeds, but by the end of the session each one had an idea of where their scene was going and what was going to happen.

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