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Some “sounds” advice…

Now that we’ve covered pictures and words, it’s time to think a bit more about sounds (aka audio clips). Sounds can be the perfect punctuation within a sermon, a church presentation or a play.

Sounds can illicit soothing thoughts or visceral reactions, they can emphasize a feeling by being melodious or cacophonous.

In short, sounds are powerful.

We can incorporate that power into the work we do in the church, whether in the congregation, on staff or in the pulpit. We only need tools to use and the skills to use those tools. If you can download a file then you have all the skills you need to use the tool I’ll tell you about today.

It’s called freesound.org which, as you’ve probably guessed, is a repository of audio clips that can be used for free. All are publicly available and royalty-free, some require attribution.

If those terms seem difficult, please take a look at this previous blog where we talked about them in more depth.

Using the clip also includes modifying, altering or recombining it with other audio to create your own unique work.

How do you modify a sound (shorten it, remove some background noise, add a secondary sound, amplify it, etc.)? Well, there’s software for that (also free) and we’ll talk more about my personal favorite “Audacity” in the next post.

While you may listen to the sounds without logging on, freesound.org requires you register to download the audio clips on the site.

Registration is painless as all that’s required is a username, password and email address. No credit card information is required or even asked for.

I used freesound to find just the right “ding” sound for a recent Lenten silent retreat held at our church. We needed a way to indicate to attendees that they could move to the next station of the Cross without speaking. We had a lot of choices (click the play button to hear the sounds):

Sound created by suzenako (http://freesound.org/people/suzenako)

Ultimately we settled on this one:

Sound created by Gabriel Killhour (http://freesound.org/people/gkillhour)

One word of caution: Sounds, like graphics, should be used with care. You want to emphasize the focus of your work, not distract from it.

Since Good Friday is around the corner you may want to check out the link below for a selection of storm sounds that are available on freesound.org.

Thunder Storm Sounds

Please let me know in the comments below if you’ve found this post useful (or not) and if you have any follow up questions.

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