The Sound Design Process

The Creek Monster Habitat is the first big collaborative project I’ve been a part of, and I could not have asked for a better beginning. Going into this project, I was so nervous. I don’t think I fully understood the feat we had to climb in these short 10 weeks until I saw the pieces coming together during the installation for the show.

As part of the sound design team, we were in charge of creating a soundscape that took the audience away from the real world and into the Creek Monster’s home. We wanted to create playful ‘chirps’ and ‘coos’ as the voice of the Creek Monster, along with music that reflects its bashful and ethereal personality.

Each member of the team had their own special musical background, and we decided to celebrate our uniqueness by creating different compositions for different sections of the habitat:

  • Derek created music for the entrance path of the show. It set the audience up from the eerie tones of the Ghost Boat into a curiosity of what’s next to come.
  • Lina created music for the open area, surrounding the monster’s nest. Her piece was more melodic, and it personally reminds me of a ‘winter wonderland’ without the winter. So I guess just a ‘wonderland.’
  • I created music for the inside of the nest. Derek described the tone of the piece as if you were at a spa. It’s a peaceful and ambient composition that represents the serenity of the Creek Monster at its core.

Although our pieces had many differences to them, we worked together to blend the sounds together and make a cohesive sound design that the audience can walk through with ease.

The sound team was also in charge of planning the audio output of the soundscape, but none of us had much experience with physical audio connections. We owe a huge thanks to our faculty supervisor, Carolina Perez, for walking us through how to set up speakers and how to connect it to our sounds and music.

There were already ideas bouncing around about using speakers that looked like rocks to camouflage into the environment. Building off of that, we wanted to hide speakers in the trees, so there was also a vertical depth to the sound. Going through the design, however, we felt that it was too ambitious for our time and skill limitations, so we stuck to just using rock speakers and patio speakers inside the nest (all placed on the floor).

When our rock speakers got in, we took it to the creek site to see if it was a good fit for the environment. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the right color to blend in. But with the help of the rest of the Creek Monster team, the speakers were painted another color to camouflage! With these speakers, 4 amplifiers, and 900ft+ of speaker wires, we set up speakers all around the site and played our soundscape. The rest is history.