What does "sound" really refer to in "sound design" or "sound editing"?

-Singular count noun, a single sound (could be said about 'sound design')
-Abstract or mass noun, "continuous" sound (probably clear in the case of 'sound editing', but can also be read from 'sound design'. This is [strangely?] also what 'sound design' practically refers to.)

Is it clear, which one is referred?

(As a non-native speaker I may also get it wrong)

  • Since it concerns etymology and word usage, and not sound design, I suspect this question would be a better fit for English Language Users stack exchange. Unfortunately, I don't seem to be able to flag it with that particular site in mind. I've flagged it as "does not appear to be about sound design, instead; Here's hoping it can be appropriately migrated. Oct 15, 2013 at 5:27

2 Answers 2

  • a particular (single) sound effect (pl. sounds)
  • blend of multiple sound effects to produce a "designed" sound (pl. sounds)
  • the "sound" of a shot or segment or scene (e.g. quiet, bright, etc)
  • the overall stylistic palette for the sound to a body of work (e.g. your favourite movie re sound)

in different instances it refers to different things, which you infer from context.

don't obsess over it?

  • Well it could be more specific, rather than ambiguous :) ! Also want to see, if someone comes up with other interpretations e.g. because of some cultural differences.
    – mavavilj
    Sep 9, 2013 at 1:10
  • my biggest challenge was to figure out what industry it refers to - music, games, or post.. turns out it's theatre, broadcasting, automotive, and product design as well :)
    – georgi
    Sep 9, 2013 at 1:13
  • But it's still sound? So the purpose/field of application of sound (or sound design) is not as ambiguous as 'sound' itself. E.g. "game sound", "film sound", "car door sound design" are clear in what they refer to, except that 'sound' is ambiguous. Well, actually 'design' is also, it can refer to "the whole of something that has been designed" or "a design/plan for something" or "the active process of designing something".
    – mavavilj
    Sep 9, 2013 at 1:26
  • "car door sound" can also mean "that car door sound effect"
    – georgi
    Sep 9, 2013 at 8:41

Ok here is my go:

in my sound design training, i was told that the real meaning of sound design is the manipulation of sound files evoke a desired emotion in the listeners.

so sound design is more about a single sound file rather the general meaning of sound.

there is another field of work that is called audio design. audio design is a science that tries to manipulates the whole chain between sound source and listener. so it is more about the general meaning of sound.

sound design <-> designing single sound files

audio design <-> designing the general sound around listeners

psycho-akustiks <-> trying to find a connection between physical sonic waves and the emotion they evoke in people

hope that helps peace

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