Music 220A Homework 4

by: Aravind Arun

For hw4, I decided to record a scene from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", by Douglas Adams, where Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent, the two main characters, have just escaped the destruction of the planet Earth and are now coming to their senses after hitching a lift on one of the Vogon Constructor Fleet spaceships.

When making this recording, I attempted to recreate the atmosphere of a dank, musty cell with metal walls. The dripping water sounds are meant to evoke the room's squalid conditions, while the other sound effects -- the grinding noises and the humming in the background -- are the sounds of the spaceship. I also tried to record the sounds of the Vogons shouting in the distance; these can also be heard in the background. All sounds echo off the metal walls of the room; hence all the reverberation.

I had a lot of fun recording these background noises. The grinding metal sounds were created by taking normal sounds, such as flipping through the pages of a book or scraping the edge of a plastic card against a metal surface, and applying an echo effect with a very short time delay and a large decay factor in Audacity. A similar technique was used for the Vogon voices -- I recorded myself speaking with a deep-throated, nasal voice, and applied echo and chorus effects in Audacity, to try to imitate the voices of the Vogons in the 2005 Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie.

In the foreground, there are other sound effects that evoke the actions of the two characters: Ford lights a match at the very beginning, and the two share a bag of peanuts, making the wrapper crackle. Arthur moves around on the floor -- these are the swishing sounds -- and finally, Ford flicks a light switch, causing the lights to come on throughout the room, and revealing the nasty conditions in which the room is kept, to a surprised Arthur.

As I mentioned above, I had a lot of fun recording the various sound effects, and tweaking them using the effects available in Audacity. The only sounds I downloaded from the Internet were those of the match striking and the dripping water. I think my efforts to create spatialization generally worked as intended; however, I think I could have taken more time to capture the movement of the two characters around the room, making their voice levels change accordingly and adding footsteps, etc. Also, the recording sounds rather bland, in retrospect... maybe a soundtrack would make it more interesting?

Link to the recording: