The Power of Theatre Sound

The Power of Theatre Sound

Many of our customers know Blitz as a full-service AV provider for events, conferences and exhibitions.

But what you might not know us for is our experience and expertise in sound for theatre. In fact, one of our longest standing clients is Cameron Mackintosh Ltd and the London production of The Phantom of the Opera, who have entrusted Blitz to provide sound and technical support for more than 30 years.

We asked Martyn Hunt, head of theatre and sound project development, for more insight into the world of the theatre sound designer:


What does a theatre sound designer do?

The theatre sound designer is responsible for everything the audience hears. Exactly what that entails depends on the type of show, the performers in the show and the performance venue. A sound designer works closely with the director and a range of other staff to create the ‘aural’ world of the show.

One could say, that the main job of a sound designer (with the director) is to get the story and the emotion of the piece across to the audience in the most immersive way.


What are the main challenges facing a theatre sound designer?

One of the challenges facing a theatre sound designer is how they adapt what they do to the demands of a specific production. The job title ‘Sound Designer’ has only been around for about 50 years, developing as the increasing sophistication and complexity of sound systems and the content played through them necessitated people to specialise in this area.


What makes a good theatre sound designer?

In order to be successful, a professional sound designer must have a huge array of creative and technical skills, including a well-developed sense of hearing, a musician’s sensitivity to balance, timbre, rhythm, melody, harmony and musical structure and, the ability to master many more different disciplines and technologies.

Naturally, a passion for music and theatre is a must, as well as having an understanding of the needs of a musician. Also advising on how to best hear the performers, which may include acoustic adjustments to the theatre and set design.


How do you best convey the story the client wants to tell?

Sound has tremendous power in aiding the storytelling process. It has the ability to transport an audience into a different world and become a truly unforgettable experience. It really is of huge importance, as sound affects us emotionally - albeit without us really realising it.


Improving the ‘visitor experience’ and creating a moment is one of the top challenges facing event professionals.  What can event professionals learn from the world of musical theatre to aid them in this challenge?

By understanding the opportunities theatre can create, an event organiser will be able to work with the sound designer to ensure their attendees will be treated to a memorable event. From creating atmospheres through sound to enhancing the story they are telling; the audience will walk away with an emotional connection from the event.

We can also design a sound system bespoke to the specific production and auditorium, again, giving the client and the audience the best experience.

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This article first appeared in Conference News.


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