Could anyone please explain to me what is a soundscape?

If you are asked to create a soundscape, how should one go about it?

Does this term apply to film sound design? If so, how?

3 Answers 3


There are lots of opinions of this, and mine is that a soundscape is the exact same thing as a landscape, just aural-based instead of geographical. In that sense, the soundscape, in films, is the space in which the characters live, including both ambiance, wildlife, and events. It's mostly a three dimensional space that gives the impression of location, be it real or not.

Take for example a landscape; You might be standing on a field facing north-east, having a forest not 100 meters ahead. In this landscape there might be a deer grazing to the north, a pack of confused cows trying to make head or tails out of a mental goat trying to pick a fight (actually seen this myself) south of the forest, and there might be a gravel road crossing a brook in the distance.

A soundscape is mostly pretty much the same thing; You might hear a soft breeze through the leaves, two nightingales corresponding quite nearly, other birds all over the place, the sound of your feet in the grass, the soothing sound of the brook, as well as the less than soothing sound of some pissed off cows finally deciding the prick of a goat is a pain in the ass and deserves to be sent to kingdom come, in combination with a very surprised goat just realizing "kingdom come" just went "kingdom now". And we might as well throw in your voice commenting on this. (though the goat I saw only got a swift crash course in meekness, it didn't really seem injured in any other way that a smashed up ego :-)

In music, the soundscape is pretty much the same thing. Not dependent of melody or pitch, but in feeling, color and depth. There is, however, a big difference in cinematic soundscapes and musical ditto IMHO; In cinematic soundtracks the music and sound stands apart from each other even though they must collaborate to work, as such the music is not part of the soundscape, it's an enhancer of the moment. In music however, sound effects, spoken dialogue and ambiances might very well be part of the soundscape, in many styles like Ambient, Industrial, Noise-Music and some Avante Garde for example sound effects and such might very well be a vital part of the music. Good examples is Art Of Noise, Yello, Einstürzende Neubauten and Das Ich.

I think one might say that every talkie-movie and recorded song has a soundscape, which I do agree to, but frankly most people I know, me included, consider it pointless to use that word unless there actually is a perceptible space to hear, and not just a flat mix without contrasts or position.


A soundscape has been defined as the auditory environment which surrounds a listener. The term soundscape is analogous with landscape in that it represents an individual’s unique experience of inhabiting an auditory environment, based on their previous experiences and interests.

The term has also been used to describe soundtracks and audio art.


A coherent sound piece that describes an event, has an overall theme or something. For example in film sound a soundscape may be a sound piece that attempts to portray the visual image as realistically as possible to engage the listener. I would say it's equal to a piece of music, but differs by using "unmusical" sounds e.g. found sounds and unusual timbres. It's also more freeform i.e. doesn't need conform to rhythmic or tonal structures like music. A soundscape is not music, although it can have musical qualities, but more of a sound collage. Then there's stuff that's is somewhat a combination of being music and soundscape, like ambient music and some sound art stuff for example.

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