Metaphoric sound

“The metaphoric use of sound is one of the most fruitful, flexible and inexpensive means: by choosing carefully what to eliminate, and then adding back sounds that seem at first hearing to be somewhat at odds with the accompanying image, the filmmaker can open up a perceptual vacuum into which the mind of the audience must inevitably rush.
Every successful reassociation is a kind of metaphor, and every metaphor is seen momentarily as a mistake, but then suddenly as a deeper truth about the thing named and our relationship to it. The greater the stretch between the “thing” and the “name,” the deeper the potential truth.”

I’m quoting Walter Murch from a very interesting article called Stretching Sound to Help the Mind See – but exactly what is a metaphor & how are they created? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary a metaphor is “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them…”

This article Pay attention to the world by Susan Sontag helps explain metaphors in reference to their most common application, in the fields of poetry & literature;
“The dimension of time is essential for prose fiction, but not, if I may invoke the old idea of the two-party system in literature, for poetry (that is, lyric poetry). Poetry is situated in the present. Poems, even when they tell stories, are not like stories. One difference lies in the role of metaphor, which, I would argue, is necessary in poetry. Indeed, in my view, it is the task – one of the tasks – of the poet to invent metaphors. One of the fundamental resources of human understanding is what could be called the “pictural” sense, which is secured by comparing one thing with another. Here are some venerable examples, familiar (and plausible) to everyone:
time as river flowing, life as dream, death as sleep, love as illness, life as play/stage, wisdom as light, eyes as stars, book as world, human being as tree, music as food etc, etc
A great poet is one who refines and elaborates the great historical store of metaphors and adds to our stock of metaphors. Metaphors offer a profound form of understanding…”

As applied to the use of sound in film, the concept is really about the psychology of an audience, as illustrated in this writing/storytelling guide: “a metaphor provides…a cue to what kind of thinking should be done…Metaphors act as shepherds to lead the audience onto the correct path of thought and mindset.”

food for thought…

One Response to Metaphoric sound

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