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Glossary of sound terms

In the next step we will be listening to a short film soundtrack, so it may be useful to provide some common terms that are used when working with film sound:

  • Soundtrack – all the different layers of sound used within a film, including location sound, dialogue, sound effects (FX), Foley sound, and musical score.
  • Location sound (also known as production sound or direct sound) – sound recorded during production (filming).
  • Dialogue – sound produced by characters speaking.
  • Silence - lack of audible sound or presence of sounds of very low intensity, often used in film for dramatic effect or to give the audience a breather after climactic scenes.
  • Sound FX – recorded sound added to the location sound in post-production (editing).
  • Foley sound – sound recorded live to add to the track to enhance aspects of the sound, eg a door creaking, a wolf howling.
  • Musical score – music added to the soundtrack.
  • Diegetic sound – sound that comes from the film world; those sounds that you would hear if you were a character in the film world.
  • Non-diegetic sound – sounds from outside the film world, that characters within the film world would not be able to hear.
  • Contrapuntal sound – sound that contrasts strongly with the image that you see on screen.

These terms are in our Sound Terms Guide below. Please feel free to download, as you may find it useful for the activities coming up over the following steps.

Which of these sounds terms would be most useful for children to know?

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Teaching Literacy Through Film

The British Film Institute (BFI)

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