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I'm 16 years old and it has been a lifelong dream of mind to be a sound designer. I have been obsessed with sound and the way it works my whole life. I love devices that make sound such as air horns and sirens (especially the latter) because they will cover everything, including harmonics, waveforms, and reverberation. Because of this, I will make siren sounds on the computer using additive synthesis and then add reverberation with Audacity.

http://soundcloud.com/thewoog34/sets/aca-screamer/

What do you guys think? I plan on getting education in all sorts of things that will cover what I need, such as electronics theory, signal flow, troubleshooting, acoustics theory, writing and communication, microphone and compressor theory, file management, and business fundamentals. Then I plan on making myself known by making a demo reel and starting small, such as in clubs or editing for local bands (a few of my friends are in bands).

What do you guys think of the sounds I made above? It's all from scratch. Do you have any advice on what I should do in terms of education and making myself known? I live in upstate New York. Any advice on what schools (I prefer community colleges or other small schools, as degrees are pretty much useless in this field) I should go to?

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So far, it seems like you're pretty much on the right path, it's cool you have already some personal inclinations on particular sounds.

I'd say acoustics and audio engineering would cover the essential on your theory skills; A lot of practical experimentation is the best, so get your hands on whatever recording sessions you might have access to. Hearing films / video games and even some genres of music is fundamental to open your mind and ears, but this you already know, for sure.

Perhaps you could be more clear about the bands matter? Are you talking about operating live music? Even though music is a common background for a lot of sound designers (and it helps a lot), one thing is to invest your time on bands, another is to use it on sound design, imho, for they are different creatures.

Re-designing the sound of a film clip or video game clip is a great way to understand what works and what doesn't and hopefully it will put various of your skills to test, also if it is well done and you decide later to put it online, it's a nice way a lot of people will see it.

And, if you don't know this book already, this might actually change your life, ahah: http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Design-Expressive-Effects-Cinema/dp/0941188264

On a personal note, if you allow me, 7 mins of sirens sounds isn't very catchy, maybe you should upload smaller sounds. :)

Welcome to the club!

  • Those sounds were requested by someone a while ago, they wanted 3 mins of alert and 3 mins of attack for 2 sirens then someone else asked for 3 mins of alert for another, so I put them on there. It's more of a demonstration of additive synthesis than anything. I already mix together songs that are unrelated and make them sound like new songs all together - that's very challenging but fun. I have perfect pitch and a fair sense of tempo. – Jacobba15 Aug 1 '12 at 21:19
  • Cool! That may help a lot. – Melissa Pons Aug 1 '12 at 21:26
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I don't want to advice not going to school for audio, it can be educational, but think it this way: doing a course in audio will be taken from doing a course in something else. If you pay for the course, there's another concern. You could get an actual, even well paying job with another degree, but a degree is not by any means a requirement to work in arts and art generally doesn't pay very easily.

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However, if you're interested in the more technical bases (electronics, signal processing and acoustics), a 2-year or so music/audio technology course might be a good fit. Just check the curriculum to see what they cover.

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Modern technology has made all the technical work very easy and what is left is basically just pure artistic values. Growing as an artist is basically the result of practicing with the tools and being exposed to other artists and their work.

So yes, you can go to school to study arts, if you want to, but equally well you can practice it just by doing it. None is a better way than the other, it's an opinion, but they are practically different ways of practicing.

Getting yourself known, well, you need to essentially work with people, because a "sound designer" or an audiographer does not usually work alone. You can practice, play and demonstrate alone, but you cannot really work alone, because the media are multidisciplinary and productions are generally worked in teams and with other artists. Self-promotion and "shameless" networking plays a big part in the field, unless you easily get to meet/know people that you can work with and they want to work with you.

  • A lot of my family is in the entertainment field, so I'd hope that I'd be able to meet people. I plan on trying that myself though, I don't want to rely on other people too much. The education would not be for a degree, rather it would be for touching up on those above skills that I listed. I could do something like Point Blank Online or Synth School, but I feel like nobody will hire a teenager (I turn 17 in September and I'll still be 17 when I graduate). Maybe I could wait a year and just work and figure out more about myself before doing anything. – Jacobba15 Aug 2 '12 at 0:26
  • @Jacobba15 Well the biggest concern regarding education is really the cost of the education. There are some courses in arts that are outrageously expensive and their primary attraction are (possible) connections to the industry. I would not recommend these because the practical content is still essentially the same, regardless of the course, and the expensive courses are quite simply just a fairly unethical business for their owners. Just make sure the curriculum is right for you, if you decide to take a course, and don't pay too much. – Internet Human Aug 2 '12 at 0:34
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I appreciate your enthusiasm, i wish that at 16 i was as motivated as you to go into sound design, i would of made things differently but then again maybe not.

About you sounds i agree with Melissa's post, 7 minutes is way too long. If your approaching this form a sound study or artistic experimentation then we get the idea quite fast maybe just a minute or two might have a even better effect on the listener. Keep going in that exact same vein and keep trying out things. Good or bad, doesn't matter, the point is to learn and develop your style.

Also, you not made me think of what a teacher once told me, "reverb is like MSG for the ears". Reverb tends to be a first reflex for early sound designers and electroacoustic musicians. If you want to experiment with reverb i recommend recording material and playing it back in a reverberant space you like (stariwell or tunnel etc) and then re-recording your sound with natural reverb. Digital reverb plugins are easy to use but once you get into film, video games or even composition you will see that reverb can sometimes drown the mix.

Anyways, Good Luck. Your doing great!

Max

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