For a while I've been looking for some good paperwork and overvieuws to gain my knowledge on rhythm in sound design. Few books I found have something to say about it and I'm wondering if there's any therminology written about it at all? I find this all very strange since rhythm is such an important element in Sound Design. Does anyone knows any literature for this?

2 Answers 2


The rhythm of sound design (& score) for film is preceded by the rhythm of the work fo the picture editor, so it might be worth reading up on the aesthetics of picture editing....

  • Found a really good book: Cutting Rhythms: Shaping the Film Edit :) Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 23:45

Unfortunately I don't have a direct answer for you as far as reading sources are concerned. However in my own personal experience, I learned about rhythm and timing from back when I used to be a DJ at a winebar working with beat-matching vinyl and such. It gave my a very tactile, hands-on understanding of pitch, rhythm, and timing manipulation - and through the process I began to understand musical structures such as lead ins, lead outs, chorus, bridge, breakdowns, etc - and even in a DJ set it taught me how to create and manipulate structure (because long DJ sets are just like songs too! they have build ups and breakdowns based upon reading the crowd's energy). I find that sound design follows a similar suite to music with carefully-determined rises and falls in dynamics and frequency content. And in the case of scare moments, how you can take principals of rhythm and timing and turn them on their end to physiologically mess with the audience and give them a really good sound scare!

And interestingly enough, most of the sound designers and editors I know and have met have some sort of musically-inclined background, whether it be a Music degree, a recreational musician, a former studio/band musician, or other DJs. The degrees of background vary, but it seems the music is a common thread or "language" amongst sound designers.

Studying music theory may be a good place to start, but I feel that working with some sort of tactile source such as a music instrument or such could be of great benefit too. There is something to be said for the floodgates that tactile manipulation opens in terms of expressive creativity.

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    Thanks! Maybe you're right in the fact that it's more or less a feeling that gives the rhythm and the flow in your designs. And I think I have a feeling for it in sound for film too. It's great to see how you use your knowledge of keeping a 3hour DJset fresh all the time in sound design. It must be similar in lots of ways. But the thing that bothers me is that I can't speak with my director about this tiny feeling I have, and why it's the right feeling. I have to have terms in witch we understand each other, in which we can make rough ideas and in which I can talk the producer in hiring me ;) Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 23:00
  • Sure thing! Actually they are 5 hour sets ;) That's beside the point though heh. Tim made a good note too, one I overlooked, which was studying picture editorial, since what you do with sound usually plays directly off of what picture is doing (or implying offstage). On your point about selling yourself to a producer and speaking their language - it can be a tricky skill to learn and handle it with finesse, just don't give up because does gets better with time and practice! Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 9:58

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