writing about sound

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This topic contains 23 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Dee-Marie 10 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #469906

    Dee-Marie
    Participant

    Last weekend, I “ran line” on four youth soccer games. That means I was one of the referees on the sidelines, running up and down the line with the play. I happened to be on the side where the parents were sitting (players and coaches on the other side). There are lots of sounds in a situation like that, and I got to thinking about how I’d describe them in writing, which led me to thinking about writing about sounds in general. The reason I’m posting this musing is just to see what others have to say about this topic.

    I’ll give it a try for my situation. Please feel free to improve these, or just to share your opinion and wisdom in general.

    The sounds I heard were:

    indistinct murmer of voices as the parents conversed among themselves

    sharp intermittent chatter from the players on the fields

    blasting whistles near and far from referees on the various fields

    loud excited yelling from fans when a goal was scored

    angry outbursts from parents who disagreed with a referee’s call

    firm words of caution from the referee to a player getting out of hand

    playful laughter of children brought along for the ride, not watching the games but playing together

    an occasional jet overhead

    whipping of my own flag when I ran

    panting of my breath, same

    grunts and thumps when wrestling players got close to me fighting for the ball

  • #324503

    Dee-Marie
    Participant
  • #469907

    mekano46
    Participant

    Great list Pegs, I remember my son’s first soccer game was on a large playing field with about 4 games going on at once. What kept striking me was how things had changed from when I grew up: The names being shouted were different, not only Tommy and David, but variations of all kinds of cultures, religions and languages and gender- both girls and boys are playing today; The parents of the girls were just as intense about the game as the boys, yelling, “Samantha, what is wrong with you, how could you let the ball get away!”; and, There were crowds of spectators.

    When I grew up in the 50s-60s, first of all, noone in the midwest played soccer. Second, this was before Title 9 and BOYS had all the best fields, coaches, equipment and fans. If girls even had teams, we were at the mercy of the boys. ie. Our women’s college softball games were cancelled if the coach of the BOYS team wanted to use the field for PRACTICE (they wanted to save the grass on the official stadium field, so that made sense to them- no debate.) Once our team was hosting another university team who had travelled, umpire and all, and we had to forfeit in the middle of the game–yes game, not practice- so the football team could practice on our field. I can also remember playing in a softball game where the boys were throwing javelin’s right behind us. I played center field-and do you know what it is like to have to listen for a javelin landing in the grass behind you? When our coach complained, she was told by the athletic director that she could find her own field, the university fields were really only for men’s sports and the Track and Field team had a meet coming up. So the women should count their blessings that they were even allowed to play on the university fields at all.

    Without Title 9, ADA and other laws the NOISES AND VOICES on the fields today would be different. I know many people on this forum hate government laws and intervention, my experience as a woman and advocate for people with disabilities says, minorities need laws and need them enforced. That is the only way to have a fair playing field (pun intended). All right, let me put on my defensive equipment before you start throwing punches. oww, oooh….

  • #469908

    Michael J. Bugeja
    Participant

    I like your list, Peg. Funny you should post this discussion. I was just thinking about sounds over the weekend while I was editing my novel. Does anyone happen to know what it sounds like when someone is stabbed through the heart? Does the knife have to go through bone? (Again, working on the novel–please don’t go running for your lives).

  • #469909

    Spinning
    Participant

    Kirby – 2008-05-28 11:36 AM

    I like your list, Peg. Funny you should post this discussion. I was just thinking about sounds over the weekend while I was editing my novel. Does anyone happen to know what it sounds like when someone is stabbed through the heart? Does the knife have to go through bone? (Again, working on the novel–please don’t go running for your lives).

    Not first hand or I most likely would not be telling you about it. There are different ways to “stab” to the heart

    Front; over, downward or under handed thrusting motion
    left side upper thrust through the ribs or straight in just below the armpit
    even from the back again over, downward or under handed.

    It is possible to hit the heart direct without any bone scraping but it would have to be a pretty precise movement or just dumb luck. From any of the above mentioned areas ribs are located in the front and side where as shoulder and again ribs in the back.

    I would think you would not “hear” this if you were the stabber. Maybe more like sense it, and for sure feel it as the… knife grazed the rib as it slide over it or maybe the way the knife formed a suction as the muscle clenched over the smooth blade with each trust.

    But really this is just guessing as I have not stabbed anyone nor been the victim.

  • #469910

    Michael J. Bugeja
    Participant

    Thank you. This helps me a great deal. The victim, sleeping in a chair, is stabbed from overhead. I wasn’t sure if there would be a cracking noise from bone breaking. After watching enough slasher films in my lifetime, I just didn’t know what was fact and what was fiction.

  • #469911

    paulc
    Participant

    Kirby – 2008-05-27 12:36 PM I like your list, Peg. Funny you should post this discussion. I was just thinking about sounds over the weekend while I was editing my novel. Does anyone happen to know what it sounds like when someone is stabbed through the heart? Does the knife have to go through bone? (Again, working on the novel–please don’t go running for your lives).

    Yikes!

    OK, I’m not to knowledgeable about these things but in Lord of the Rings when Saruman gets stabbed in the back, near his heart, he does this quiet but gasping in-take of breath. In the special features, they said that Christopher Lee insisted that was the sound that would be made as he’s had a sinister past from WWII and the man just knows, they said). The actual sound of the knife going in would be silent unless there were metal objects in the way.

    That’s what I heard.

    Jai

  • #469912

    Michael J. Bugeja
    Participant

    Thanks, Jai! That’s perfect. Did I make you nervous after you stayed with us? lol. It’s one of those things that even though it’s fiction, little things like that can pull a person from the story if the reader knows better.

  • #469913

    Mark Lewis
    Participant

    Quote – “Kirby – 2008-05-27 12:36 PM I like your list, Peg. Funny you should post this discussion. I was just thinking about sounds over the weekend while I was editing my novel. Does anyone happen to know what it sounds like when someone is stabbed through the heart? Does the knife have to go through bone? (Again, working on the novel–please don’t go running for your lives).”

    To get the sound, buy a top round roast or any thick uncooked piece of meat and have at it with a sharp knive.  The heart is nestled inside the rib cage so it is very possible to hit bone (google the human skeleton for pictures of the rib cage). 

    It takes a good amount of strength to bury a knife in someone up to the hilt – depending on where you strike, of course (and also depending on the knife.  The professional titanium kitchen knives are amazingly sharp).  Most stabbing deaths are caused by exsanguination (which is a term for blood loss… I always wanted to use that word, and I’m not sure I spelled it right!) and these murders are usually messy with lots of blood everywhere if the weapon has been pulled out of a wound.  Most of the bleeding is internal when a knife is left in a wound. 

    The scene in “Saving Private Ryan” where the german ex-prisioner stabs the GI is pretty accurate for showing the amount of force necessary to do the deed.

    DISCLAIMER – No, I’ve never knifed anyone, but I have been unlucky enough to see the result of several knife attacks, and I witnessed an attack in progress (and chased the assailant afterward – which is an odd experience when the other person has a weapon – and you don’t have anything).

    Jeff C  http://www.ebmaclean.com

  • #469914

    paulc
    Participant

    Kirby – 2008-05-27 4:08 PM Thanks, Jai! That’s perfect. Did I make you nervous after you stayed with us? lol. It’s one of those things that even though it’s fiction, little things like that can pull a person from the story if the reader knows better.

    Nah, you didn’t worry me!

    If you want to take a look at that scene, I believe it’s the extended edition of the third film in the trilogy, “The Return of the King’, close to the beginning. Watch the special features and you’ll hear them discuss it too.

    You’re so right, stuff like this can jolt a reader from the story if they think you’ve got it wrong.

    Jai

  • #469915

    Dee-Marie
    Participant

    From soccer to stabbing–what a twisted tale we weave! Spring – good point about the changing sounds. Its ironic; when I looked around at all the bodies and faces, I felt deja vu. It was just like when my daughter was little and on the field. I could even see lookalike girls that reminded me strongly of her old teammates.

    You are highly likely to hit bone when trying to stab someone in the heart. It’s surrounded by ribs. I have no first-hand experience with this but I’d guess it would make a noise something like—“kachunk!” Or maybe –“ker-shlock.” Hmm. Those don’t sound very scary, do they? Good thing I don’t write horror.

    🙁

  • #469916

    mlghaley
    Participant

    The one sound everyone heard when my son played soccer was:

    “THE OTHER WAY NOAH!” 🙂

  • #469917

    hannah_ellie
    Participant

    Ha. I have a soccer player also. Generally, he lags behind picking up fallen players, even those who aren’t on his team. A little softy, that one.

    On topic, I love to write sounds so that readers can imagine what they would be.

    An example from something I wrote about being inebriated in my youth:

    “There she was, peeping out from behind the black clouds like a dancer’s knees beneath her skirt. My eyelids fell. The cicadas were climbing out. I lay there, my body too alive to move, listening to their spiked legs rake against the bark at the base of the tree.”

    Great topic, Pegs.

  • #469918

    creator
    Participant

    Oh man, oh MAN, you are getting me started on soccer. When that happens, I will ramble on and on and on and on…

    Anyways, sounds like a busy game! Sounds are always great to write about, even though sometimes you have to rack your brain for the right description! Nice job with the list! I can just picture it now…;)

  • #469919

    mekano46
    Participant

    jimdens – 2008-05-27 7:52 PM

    The one sound everyone heard when my son played soccer was:

    “THE OTHER WAY NOAH!” 🙂

    That really does bring back memories. Thanks for the smile.

  • #469920

    mekano46
    Participant

    crys – 2008-05-27 8:26 PM

    Ha. I have a soccer player also. Generally, he lags behind picking up fallen players, even those who aren’t on his team. A little softy, that one.

    On topic, I love to write sounds so that readers can imagine what they would be.

    An example from something I wrote about being inebriated in my youth:

    “There she was, peeping out from behind the black clouds like a dancer’s knees beneath her skirt. My eyelids fell. The cicadas were climbing out. I lay there, my body too alive to move, listening to their spiked legs rake against the bark at the base of the tree.”

    Great topic, Pegs.

    Thanks crys, I love your little soccer guy, I only wish our sports mania was about compassion instead of competition. That would be something to cheer about.

    Cicadas in the background, ah yes, summer is here. Sounds do make a difference.

  • #469921

    Michael J. Bugeja
    Participant

    pegs – 2008-05-27 7:12 PM

    From soccer to stabbing–what a twisted tale we weave! Spring – good point about the changing sounds. Its ironic; when I looked around at all the bodies and faces, I felt deja vu. It was just like when my daughter was little and on the field. I could even see lookalike girls that reminded me strongly of her old teammates.

    You are highly likely to hit bone when trying to stab someone in the heart. It’s surrounded by ribs. I have no first-hand experience with this but I’d guess it would make a noise something like—“kachunk!” Or maybe –“ker-shlock.” Hmm. Those don’t sound very scary, do they? Good thing I don’t write horror.

    🙁

     

    Sorry about that, Peg.  I didn’t mean to hijack your post…I was just taking a stab at it lol. I got what I needed.  But your post does make people think when writing sounds.  It’s one of the senses that can develop a scene.  Robins remind me of a spring morning.  Crickets make me think of a sleepless summer night.  Leaves on the ground rustling in the wind sound like fall.  A low rumble followed by my house shaking as the snowplow goes by brings back nightmares of last winter.

  • #469922

    Dee-Marie
    Participant

    Kirby – 2008-05-28 10:21 AM

    pegs – 2008-05-27 7:12 PM

    From soccer to stabbing–what a twisted tale we weave! Spring – good point about the changing sounds. Its ironic; when I looked around at all the bodies and faces, I felt deja vu. It was just like when my daughter was little and on the field. I could even see lookalike girls that reminded me strongly of her old teammates.

    You are highly likely to hit bone when trying to stab someone in the heart. It’s surrounded by ribs. I have no first-hand experience with this but I’d guess it would make a noise something like—“kachunk!” Or maybe –“ker-shlock.” Hmm. Those don’t sound very scary, do they? Good thing I don’t write horror.

    🙁

     

    Sorry about that, Peg.  I didn’t mean to hijack your post…I was just taking a stab at it lol. I got what I needed.  But your post does make people think when writing sounds.  It’s one of the senses that can develop a scene.  Robins remind me of a spring morning.  Crickets make me think of a sleepless summer night.  Leaves on the ground rustling in the wind sound like fall.  A low rumble followed by my house shaking as the snowplow goes by brings back nightmares of last winter.

    Kirby – no worries. I was kinda hoping for someone to rewrite my list so it sounded (sic) better, so as to help me become a better writer. Anyone want to take a stab (sic) at that? Anyone want to give a mini-lecture on the use of (sic)?

    Here’s the list again, in case anyone would –please do!–care to improve it:

    The sounds I heard were:

    indistinct murmer of voices as the parents conversed among themselves

    sharp intermittent chatter from the players on the fields

    blasting whistles near and far from referees on the various fields

    loud excited yelling from fans when a goal was scored

    angry outbursts from parents who disagreed with a referee’s call

    firm words of caution from the referee to a player getting out of hand

    playful laughter of children brought along for the ride, not watching the games but playing together

    an occasional jet overhead

    whipping of my own flag when I ran

    panting of my breath, same

    grunts and thumps when wrestling players got close to me fighting for the ball

  • #469923

    Mark Lewis
    Participant

    I was poking around the forum and I thought I might take a stab at the thread, but I don’t feel like I have the thrust of the conversation.  It isn’t your fault, Pegs – I’m not very sharp.  This has been hard to write; I feel like there’s an edge to my post, and the shear exhaustion of writing this is slicing into my consciousness.  I’m pale.

    Jeff C   http://www.ebmaclean.com

  • #469924

    Anthony Head
    Participant

    I couldn’t begin to do your list justice. I do suggest that you drop down to the poetry forum and repost as poetry, your list is a short prose poem all by itself. Your thread is titled “writing about sound”. In fact, what you have done is sound writing. Have someone read your words aloud to you while you close your eyes. You’ve done well.

     

    John

  • #469925

    Dee-Marie
    Participant

    leikec – 2008-05-28 5:01 PM

    I was poking around the forum and I thought I might take a stab at the thread, but I don’t feel like I have the thrust of the conversation. It isn’t your fault, Pegs – I’m not very sharp. This has been hard to write; I feel like there’s an edge to my post, and the shear exhaustion of writing this is slicing into my consciousness. I’m pale. [italics Peg’s]

    Jeff C http://www.ebmaclean.com

    Oh, man! For a minute there you had me going! I was actually worried about your health!

    Sheesh. Talk about not very sharp! That would be me.

    Thanks for the chuckles. 

     

  • #469926

    Dee-Marie
    Participant

    jmar2 – 2008-05-28 7:45 PM

    I couldn’t begin to do your list justice. I do suggest that you drop down to the poetry forum and repost as poetry, your list is a short prose poem all by itself. Your thread is titled “writing about sound”. In fact, what you have done is sound writing. Have someone read your words aloud to you while you close your eyes. You’ve done well.

     

    John

    John,

    Good suggestions, thanks. I’ll give it a whirl.

    Peg 

     

  • #469927

    mekano46
    Participant

    Some authors suggest taking a tape recorder along and just let it casually record whatever it picks up, the sounds and dialogue are then ready whenever you are. Of course, you would have to bleep out the parents yelling at the refs.

  • #469928

    Dee-Marie
    Participant

    Mary – au contraire! The parental yelling is some of the spiciest language you’ll ever hear! (as I’m sure you know).

    In fact, we could make a whole poem out of just the vocal sounds at a youth soccer game.

    Play on!

    Red ball.

    Oh, c’mon, ref!

    I’m open! Here! Pass it!

    Kick the BALL, Johnny!

    Up! Push UP, everyone!

    Offside!

    Watch the elbows, kids.

    Go, go, go, GOOO

    OTHER WAY, NOAH!

    🙂

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