Using sound and music in interesting fashions, we can tap into reactions and produce feelings in ways other media cannot. The design element of it is about the creation of these feelings intentionally.
Anni Tolvanen talks about sound design in larp.
Lack of design its *itself* a design choice, because your larp will have sounds. Your site will have a base level of noise, a natural soundscape. This will not only provide a backdrop to your event, but will also serve to mask the sound cues you introduce.
And these sounds will affect your players’ interactions.
Sound design is not the *same* as sound effects, although it can involve them. It is the kind of thing that is done to affect the sound produced by an expensive car door opening and closing. It’s how toast cooked in a toasted whose “pop” noise is done right tastes better.
The combination of these sources of sound, these auditory streams, can also be affected by the brains of your players – they will be listening *and* hearing selectively, because that is how humans work. We can – to an extent – block irrelevant sound. Our perception of sound is based not only on what we *can* hear, but what we *think* are hearing. Our sound design must take this into account.
If we *simply* consider the background sound that we might expect at a venue, and *simply* rely on that, then we have performed an act of sound design. We cannot often have full control of a space, but if we consider carefully we may be able to exert *some* control. (Not use the microwave, for example…)
Participatory sound design brings its own additional challenges – as larpers, we are *expected* to produce our own sounds.
In larp, it may not always be clear which of our sounds are *actually* there for the purposes of diagesis. Is that sound affect *actually* happening in-character? (In game) *Should* the characters be responding? Or should the *players* be responding?
Even given this, your players will affect your carefully designed soundscape by their participation.
However – you can use sound to affect mood, to make players more relaxed, more placid and reduce or reinforce other moods.
Your positive mood triggers here include – recognition, recollection sand repepition. A neat trick is to change a familiar pattern.
Sound design is not just a special effect. It is a set of practises, like any other design practise to create an intentional outcome.
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