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The Sound Module

TheTPBLeap – Creative Futures Sound Engineering Moduleintroduces students to the large & diverse subject of sound engineering, specifically sound engineering for theatre. The content for this module is based on the sound engineering modules of the HND in Technical Theatre taught at Inchicore College of Further Education. It is also based on many years of practical experience working in theatres both large &  small. While an online course can not replace the many hours of “hands-on” practical experience that a full time student would receive in a college, the online syllabus will give the student the necessary information to design & operate the sound for a modest performance in a professional environment.

The first two chapters of the module, Chapter 1. What is Sound? & Chapter 2. The Seven Characteristics of Sound introduces the student to the raw material & its qualities – sound, i.e. how sound travels in air & how humans understand that what they are experiencing is “sound.”  

Chapter 3. The Signal Path explains how sound waves can be converted into analogous electrical signals. Most of the equipment we associate with sound engineers is electrical, therefore the student must understand that sound waves are converted to electricity by microphones. In this chapter the student is shown the various types of devices they are likely to encounter in order to play back pre-recorded music & sound effects into a theatre.
Chapter 4. The Mixing Desk deals with the one piece of equipment that generally intimidates students. The chapter attempts to demystify the mixing desk by explaining that its function is simply to control the volume & timbre of multiple sound sources before sending them to one or many destinations. The virtual mixing desk in Second Life will give students the opportunity to operate a mixing desk in a theatre type environment.
In theatre, the sound engineer will very often have two distinct roles. One involves preparing all the sound & music for a show & the second involves playing back those cues in the theatre during performances. Chapter 5. Basic Editing Skills shows the students the types of audio editing they would be expected to master using both hardware & software.
Chapter 6. Microphones explains how a student should pick the correct microphone for the job in hand.
Chapter 7. Pre-Production & Chapter 8. Technical Rehearsal & Performance deals with the work a sound engineer will be expected to carry out in the run up to & the opening night of a new show. They include important subjects such as multi-track recording, communications systems, sound design, sound checks & cue sheets. The subject of cueing from computers is also introduced.

JJ Vernon
JJ is a course tutor at Inchicore College of Further Education with over 10 years experience. JJ has also extensive experience as a composer, arranger, sound designer & sound operator for theatre.
After completing an HND in Popular Music & Sound Recording in Manchester, he moved to Dublin to work for the Riverdance composer Bill Whelan. He worked at the Peacock Theatre – the experimental stage of the Abbey Theatre – and consequently toured with Abbey productions as a sound engineer in theatres both large & small. He also worked independently composing music & designing sound for theatre, film & dance companies. More recently JJ has worked as a Music Technology Consultant teaching institutions how to operate newly installed studios & software. In this capacity JJ has worked in Trinity College, The Irish Times, The Irish Revenue Dept, Athlone Institute of Technology, Coláiste Dhúlaigh, the Grange Community College & the Donahies School.
JJ continues to compose music & two of his compositions are due to be toured in China this summer by the Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra.
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