Maggie and Stephanie’s Sound Piece


First, Maggie and I decided to make a scary sound recording. We considered several settings of the scary story, and at last we decided to make a scary story about the way back to dorm. We thought it was well-related to our normal life and could best synthesize with our peers. We set the story line as the following. One night, a student was leaving the AB but missing the shuttle bus back to dorm, thus she had to walk back to dorm. On her way back, she first heard coin-dropping sound, and she stopped. Then she went into the Family Mart to see if the weird sound would disappear. When she continued to walk back, she heard the coin-dropping sound again and she asked “Hello”. She still went on walking, and she heard the sound once more, she was frightened, asking who the sound was. Then the sound “Sorry” haunted her when she was running away. In the end, the girl breathed heavily after a long run, and she heard one more “Sorry” and screamed. End of the story.

After we decided what to be our topic for the sound recording project, we started gathering recordings. We used TASCAM to record sound. I first recorded five sounds: footsteps on the stairs on the way out of AB, exiting the AB, the shuttle bus leaving, the traffic noise, and the Family Mart welcoming music. Then Maggie and I used Garage Band to set these recorded as background sound of the whole story. We downloaded “footstep”, “running”, “breath”, “scream”, “coin-dropping”, and “Sorry” from Internet. And we put these sounds into the Garage Band. We looped “footstep” when the main character started walking because we wanted to create a continuity of time and space. We used “coin-dropping” three times to create a horror atmosphere, with three different reaction of the main character. The first time she stopped, indicated by the stop of footstep. The second time she said “Hello” in suspicion, recorded by Maggie afterwards. The third time she asked who the sound was, also recorded by Maggie. After this, we added “Sorry”, looped and panned it to different channels. We wanted to make it sound like a person was chasing you, and saying “Sorry” to both of your ears. We also changed the footstep sound into running sound, and added heavy breathing sound as well. In the end, we saved only the breathing sound to create horror, and we ended it with one more “Sorry” and a scream, leaving the ending open. Thus we thought the listeners could engage themselves in the sound recording project and imagined the ending by themselves.

After we had the structure of the sound recording project down, we added many revisions. First, we recorded Maggie saying “Goodbye” to me to better indicate the setting and timing of the story. Second, we added Maggie’s reaction of missing the shuttle bus, because the original piece was hard to interpret her missing the bus. Third, we added fade-in and fade-out to different sound tracks, and we kept the volume of different sound in accordance, what’s more, we panned several tracks in order to provide the listener a better understanding of the space.

The most interesting part of creating a horror sound recording is that because Maggie and I have listened to it so many times, it no longer sounds horror to us. But we are really happy to find that others really like this piece. But we also recognize some problems in the recording project. First, wind in the background. When I recorded the traffic sound, I also recorded the sound of the wind. Maggie and I tried to lower the volume of that track so that the wind sound would be diminished. But that did not work out. After class we decide to add the volume of wind, and introduce one more track of wind to enhance the horror atmosphere. Second, the beginning of the project was too fast. We only had Maggie saying “Goodbye” to me, which may be incompatible in creating a whole setting of the story.

In all, I have learned how to use TASCAM field recorder and how to use Garage Band to create a sound project. And I think Maggie and I have created a really good sound recording project, which we name as “My Last Trip Back to Dorm”. But we also learn that it takes a lot to create a horror sound piece, and in the process of recording there could be many distraction and unnecessary noise.


Since Stephanie covered the majority of our process I will focus on the revision aspect of our piece.

Based on feedback we noticed the wind was a bit distracting. We noticed this beforehand and lowered the wind down to quite a low level, but it didn’t seem to be enough. Therefore in the editing process we played with the pan of the sound of the wind. Hopefully, it added a bit more dimension to the piece. (Also, I think pan might be my favorite feature:))

We also adjusted the pan of the bus moving away so it sounded more like the bus was actually moving into the distance.

We tried to adjust the reaction to the first coin drop. We wanted the first reaction to be non-verbal because in real life, you would not automatically say something if you heard coins. We moved the coin drops a bit sooner, so it emphasized when the girl stops walking.

All in all, I really enjoyed this project!

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