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Sound Matters and Audio Rhetoric Examples


  1. Tech Presentation: Instagram
  2. Discuss McKee’s article
  3. Audio Rhetoric
  4. Homework

“Sound Matters” by McKee

I hope you all had a fun and relaxing mini-break. The return to class is always difficult, but I hope today’s lesson on Heidi McKee’s Sound Matters: Notes toward the analysis and design of sound in multimodal webtexts, will be entertaining as well as informative to make up for the loss of your freedom. You have another break just ahead!

To start, read through this article (don’t listen to it yet) and take note of these questions:

  • What was the article about?
  • How did the author frame the article (what was the gimmick to deliver the message)?
  • What made the piece confusing (if at all)?

Now let’s listen to the article and take note of the same questions.

Then,we will get into four groups and each group will review McKee’s article, “Sound Matters” to find the answers to two of the following questions (about 10 minutes). I will take questions five and six, as they are review of the Manovich’s principles, which we discussed earlier in the semester. As we review our answers to the questions, we will use the videos below to discuss each of McKee’s four elements of sound.

  1. From what approaches does McKee draw to discuss her four-part schema?
  2. What are the four parts to McKee’s schema?
  3. Why does Helen Van Dongen think it is impossible to talk about a movie’s soundtrack separately from its visual elements?
  4. What do Kress and Van Leeuwen mean when they argue for “an integrated semiosis?”
  5. In order, what are Lev Manovich’s five principles of new media?
  6. What is modularity?
  7. What does McKee assert we must consider when analyzing webtexts?
  8. What does McKee identify as the qualities of vocal delivery?
  9. What are Copeland’s three planes?
  10. What main purposes does McKee suggest sound effects serve?

Vocal Quality


Sound Effects


Audio Rhetoric

I will briefly lecture on audio rhetoric, especially on its use in cinema, to help show you the effects of sound choices. This article cleverly discusses one of the more overused sound effects in Hollywood.


Blog Post #6 (Due tonight, Thursday, Oct. 20)

Listen: Radio Lab, Morality (optional but recommended, Serial Episode 1)

Read:The Rhetoric of Remix

Read and watchVideo Editing and Design Tips

Research Journal #3 (Due Tuesday, Oct. 25)