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SWON News: The Low Down

Create Your Soundtrack

Thursday, February 26, 2015  
Posted by: Nathan Swartzendruber
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SWON Libraries

SWON Libraries // Weekly
  • Design your own sound effects
  • Build a sound effects studio at SWON's Summer Reading Program Workshop
  • Recently on SWON's blog

Foley artists do fascinating work. They record live sound effects for movies, television and video games. When you hear a door open or a coffee mug break on the floor, you’re hearing a foley artist’s work. Other sound artists invent effects for real and far-far away sounds.

Other types of sound effects appear in videos, too. Cartoons use noises dramatize the action, like when Wile E. Coyote’s plans loudly blow up in his face. Cartoons also use musical cues; a character’s disappointment is echoed in the so-sad notes of a slide trombone.

Laugh tracks are a frequent feature of TV shows. Sometimes they’re used in earnest, but comedy groups like Monty Python play on viewer expectations when canned applause abruptly stops.

However they’re used, sound effects are great fun, and kids make great sound effects artists. They get to participate in the storytelling. Come on, watch this video. Doesn’t this look like a blast?

Live sound effects are great fun, and there are instructions on how to create them, but you can also have fun with pre-recorded sound effects. To do so, download sounds from a site like Then use software like Soundplant to assign sounds to your computer keyboard. Have fun!

  • Nathan Swartzendruber, SWON Technology Educator

Wire up your own sound effects computer

At SWON’s Summer Reading Program Workshop, you’ll learn how to use a Makey Makey. That looks like a Nintendo game controller, but you can create your own buttons with anything that conducts electricity–from a tin foil to bananas to your own hands.

We’ll build our own buttons, wire up the Makey Makey, and select sound effects to build our own sound effects studios. Join us for six sessions of hands-on learning and fun on March 18th.

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