A well as recording/sourcing music for a show you will also have to record/source sound effects. There are lots of sound effects libraries for sale & increasingly they are being sold on-line so that you can audition the sound you are looking for before purchasing it. This also means that you only have to pay for the sound effect you want rather than pay for a full CD of sound effects most of which you may never use. There are also plenty of sites offering free sound effects although the quality of these is sometimes questionable.

Click below to get an example of an online sound effects site:

Very often after auditioning lots of sound effects you will come to the conclusion that none are quite what you are looking for. In which case you will have to record your own sound effects. The more you do of this the larger the library of sound effects you will have at your disposal. It can also be great fun.

You will sometimes find that the libraries do not have the particualr sound you are looking for. For instance, in a recent production the sound of a mythical three headed dog was required. This had to be recorded using actors, sound editing techniques & imagination.


Very often you will have to layer sound effects in order to achieve the effect you are looking for. For instance if you are looking for a storm ambience to underscore a particular scene, the chances are that you will have to build a sound montage using several sound effects on different tracks. You would look for rain, wind, thunder, lightening crashes & possible others such as windows rattling etc. Using multi-track recording techniques on a DAW you would mix the various sound effects to create the desired effect.

Let us look at the process of building a sound montage following a director's brief:

  1. Sound FX of rain
  2. At 00:10 we hear thunder
  3. At 00:15 footsteps approach from stage right
  4. At 00:25 we hear a match being struck
  5. AT 00:30 we hear a scream
  6. Following the scream we hear drums which continue as lights come up on stage & actors move to their positions.
  7. Fade drums

Below is the session as it would appear in Digidesign's Pro Tools 8. This type of work can be carried out in most DAWs some of which can be downloaded for free. It is beyond the brief of this course to teach students how to use the software, but once you have decided on the software you wish to use there are countless video tutorials & books available. (Not forgetting the manual that comes with the software!)

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