From reading Sound Design Meta I'm under the impression that "sound design for music" questions are off-topic for this exchange. Is there an Exchange where these questions are on-topic? I'm aware there are a huge number of forums on the wider web but I do like the stack exchange format.

2 Answers 2


There's the Sound Design obviously, and there's Music.

Sound design questions are on topic here, "even" if they're in a musical context. While I can understand some users' reservations about allowing all sort of sound production questions (live mixing etc.), I really can't agree if someone objects to a question solely because it's in the context of music production.

For me personally, these musically-oriented questions are the most interesting – if they are good quality; I think the problem is not being musical as such but the fact that there are many amateurs out there asking about one particular sound in one particular piece of music. Not the most exciting kind of question in general, but like questions about one particular film sound effect I feel they should be on topic.

It seems like musically-oriented sound questions are asked more on Music.SE these days after the SSD merge. I can't really point out anything wrong with that, but I do feel such questions were better off on old AVP, where one could assume a rather higher standard of familiarity with technical language etc.. For the same reason, at least the more technical sound questions in a musical setting should now be on topic here.

  • Hi! "Sound design questions are on topic here, "even" if they're in a musical context... I really can't agree if someone objects to a question solely because it's in the context of music production." Let me explain why I think that way. Sound design is a storytelling tool, you use sound(s) to emphasize the meaning or add a context to a narrative. A narrative can be a game environment, a movie, a radioplay, installation,etc. However a pop song (in most cases we get here) is not a narrative as such. A guitar sound is like a colour of a pencil a sound design (element) helps tell a story. Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 15:27
  • The main reason to create this (admittedly harsh) distinction is because we are overload with question concerning anything sound related... this is a problem because we loose focus. If 'any sound that can be adapted via a knob"-questions are on topic, I'm out of here. We need to set a standard and a direction.. sound design was the direction and now it's anything that makes noise. Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 15:29
  • @ArnoudTraa: I'm all for a strong direction being made one way or the other. Right now nobody seems to know if sound design for music is on topic or off. meta.sound.stackexchange.com/q/68/9422 Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 15:55
  • check out my answer to your question. we are working on it.. Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 15:59
  • It feels like there's not really a place for audio production questions anymore. AVP is now just Video Production, and Sound Design seems more narrow than Audio Production in general. From reading a few meta posts, some of the original SSD members hated seeing questions that didn't have to do with sound design showing up. I have all kinds of questions about mixing and mastering, things pertaining to digital music composition, recording live performance, and so forth. None of those seem to have a StackExchange related to them.
    – JYelton
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 17:05

I think that there is a semantic issue underneath this issue, bare with me. In English there's one word for: music/audio/music-production/a-healthy-state.. That word is 'Sound'.

So 'Sound' has a lot of meanings in different contexts. -In music production: the sound of a band or a piece of gear -In film production: sound on set or in post production (and they are bundelled with score to create the soundtrack..) -In describing things as healthy or good ' a sound advice'.

Sound design is a easily used term by almost anyone. But there's a distinction between what Walter Murch intended (when he coined the term) and what creators of presets for electronic instruments (synthesizers or other gear). And that distinction lies in the misusage of the word sound (on both accounts).

A sound created by an electronic instrument is described in other languages as follows 'klank'(in Dutch), 'klange' (german), etc. In English there is no word for an instrumental sound (besides preset), to my knowledge at least. A sound design process for a narrative (like a movie) is using the word sound in a way that confuses as well. For example: it is written as a singular noun, but it is actually a plural, meaning the overall sound of the movie (in this example.

Thanks for reading this far, I'll try to conclude here :)

So is music production a sound design process? No it's a music design process. It's not about a narrative it's about something more mysterious because it stands on it's own. Which sound design (almost) never does, there's almost always a narrative in some form (visually or in form of text).

That's a distinction I feel we need to make, because now we are opening the gates to anything concerning sound.

  • Perhaps you should give a reference to "what Walter Murch intended" – I don't think he wrote a clear manifesto! – Sure, being a film guy he'd focus on film applications, and perhaps not the musical stuff even within films; but that doesn't mean his key ideas can't be applied to music just as well. Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 21:46
  • As for the distinctions you try to ratify here: sorry, I can't follow you. The only thing that makes sense is, you say music doesn't have a narrative. Allright, but it still has ideas, it expresses feelings, it conveys meanings (not in a clear, unambiguous manner, but you don't have that in film either, or any form of art). And emphasizing and giving context to those things is precisely what a producer/engineer does, when doing the sound design for a song recording. That's separate from composition ("screenplay writing") or musical performance ("acting"), though there can be overlap. Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 21:51
  • Fair point, let me clarify. I'm not saying that you can't apply his ideaa to music, i actually encourage it! But the music questions we get here never touch those concepts. It's mostly 'how do i get this sound'. For more on walter murch's ideas check: filmsound.org/murch/murch.htm Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 21:53
  • Oh and I was using him as an example for the semantic issue. I don't think it's the ONLY way to do sound design. It's a perspective on telling a story with sound. (And it works really well :) Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 21:56
  • Sorry saw your other conment to late to respond. What i tried to say is that Music expresses/creates feelings in a solitary way in a strictly aural context. Therefore in a visual context sound design is something different from a 'sound design' for a song. But couldn't you call that the music design? Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 22:04
  • "Music expresses/ ... context". Yes. So does a radio drama. In both cases, sound design is not concerned with all aspects of the art, merely adds one aspect. Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 22:11
  • About those "how do I get this sound" questions: as I said, I'm rather bored too of them, but you can't blame music. Bad questions turn up everywhere... and StackExchange has a mechanism to account for them: downvote/ignore, and upvote/answer good questions! If you think this site is "flooded" with stupid questions, better don't look over at StackOverflow. Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 22:12
  • Yes radio drama is an exception to my point, i know. And my point is not to say that someone can't call his/her practice 'sound design'. Or to blame music, for that matter. I want us to discuss what is on topic here, in this site. We now serve to many masters (music and sound production) and it brings in more bad than good. We have to come up with some 'borders' together. But now i need to go to bed.. Nice to discuss this, thanks! Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 22:21
  • 2
    I'm a bit losing your point here. I don't think it makes any sense to separate technical sound-related questions from the true design questions. To show an example of another SE site that managed to do this very well (its situation was/is actually very similar): Graphic Design. They decided that basically they accept any Photoshop&friends tech support questions. Since then, they're doing really well (they graduated recently), attracting both such contents and a handful of true design questions they really want. It doesn't make sense to separate this.
    – yo'
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 8:18

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