Hey you guys! Hello from a sound design/ sound engineering student from Brazil :)

Recently I decided to come up with a Research to apply for the Master's Degree in USP (Sao Paulo University, in Brazil) since one of the programs has an specific class for Sound Design (not so easy to find round here!). What happens is that USP is the most renown university in Brazil and, therefore, hard to guarantee your place in it. The research's idea must be GREAT! The first thing that came up to my mind, since I need a great material for researches and It's not that easy to find tons of books talking about Sound Design's concepts and professionals, was to write about semiotics in the Walter Murch sound career in movies. However, the guy that teaches the Sound Design class has done it before! HA! Too obvious!

Now I'm completely lost thinking about the focus of my research. I thought about comedy movies sound design but It's OH SO HARD to find material about the professionals envolved... and I feel REALLY bad mentioning a director in the tittle without knowing his participation in the sound creation so... oh my!

Thought about Tarantino's movies and the kung fu old movies inspiration... but... not sure.

Do you guys have any good idea about what should I do my research about? This can be a life changing answer! Thank you VERY VERY much!

5 Answers 5


Yes, read the book "This is your brain on Music" by Daniel Levitin and maybe watch the movie "The Music Instinct" with him (and many other audio geniuses). http://www.pbs.org/wnet/musicinstinct/

The book and the movie cover sound design, as well as music (which are very much one and the same IMO). They honestly made me think of the entire process of sound manipulation in a different way.

They will generate so many great thesis ideas that you will have a hard time picking the best concept. Don't do a biography on one of the greats like Murch. There are plenty of those already. Look into why we as humans are so deeply effected (genetically) by certain tones and rhythms, and what that information can mean in the hands of a audio jedi!


I think you should check out some Jacques Tatti films, he was a French director who was using sound in a very creative way for the time (1947-1978). There is a wealth of ideas you could come up with from these films in regards to sound design and I am sure your tutors would appreciate you writing about somebody different (even though any sound design teacher will be well aware of Tattis work) as I am sure many of the students will be concentrating on the more obvious sound designers to base their research on.


How about investigating what the audience is listening to? The audience's perspective is often lost within commercial sound design, and you could investigate what is important to them. Does it correspond with the convention of dialogue being the driving force, music conveying the emotions and sound effects adding realism? Or is it more complex than that?


I wouldn't abandon Tarantino so early. From what I've heard, he's very hands on with regards to sound design and music selection during the post production of Inglorious Basterds. Part of my paper addressed the music and sound design choices of the scene introducing the Bear Jew to the Nazi Colonel who refused to help Brad Pitt and his crew with Intel. Although, I spoke about the sonic impact of that scene, I was not sure who was ultimately responsible for that scene. My guess is Tarantino.


You may also consider looking at the sound design employed in films by the Cohen brothers. There are a number of academic articles that broach the subject concerning individual movies, but I haven't seen many that go into extensive depth on any one, or covers general trends that occur across their movies.

You could also look for ideas in "The Soundtrack". It's an academic journal focusing on sound design and sound for moving picture. You can order copies (or read the first issue for free) at http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/journals/view-Journal,id=146.

I highly reccomend anyone in our field, student or professional, at least get a look at some of these journals. They're an excellent source of theoretical discourse on our profession. One warning though, the journal changes name and (I believe) publisher in January. The continuation of the journal will be called "The New Soundtrack", and can be found at http://www.euppublishing.com/journal/sound.

I'd suggest trying what I used for my Master's thesis; but that was a beast and I don't really think anyone can truly do it justice at the Master's level (I know I didn't). Good luck with your studies.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.