Drawing Sounds

Learn how to imagine sounds visually and how to use drawing to help understand sounds.

Visualising Sounds

In order to receive new understandings about sounds, we can visualise them. This might mean simply sketching drawings of sounds out on paper, or using computer programmes to generate visual materials.

You have probably seen or used the ‘visualiser’ within your media player to generate images to accompany your sounds. This is an example of using computer programmes to generate a visual interpretation of the sounds.

These visualisations can help us to understand sounds in new ways.

Types of Visualisation

In visualising sounds, we learn more about them. Each type of visualisation will tell us something different about the sound.


The most common form of sound visualisation is the waveform, view below:

This gives us information about the loudness and shape of the sound over time. As a general guide, the larger the waveform the louder the sound.

BUT this doesn’t tell us anything about the pitches present within the sound or help us work out if there are multiple sounds happening at the same time.


The spectrogram is a more advanced form of visualisation and shows us all of the pitches within the sound.

It can show us the frequencies that are happening within the sound and how they change over time.

BUT it can be more difficult to read than the waveform, and takes much more computer power to show sounds in this way.

Drawn Sounds

We can also make our own interpretations of sounds through drawing.

This allows us to understand sounds in our own personal way and allows us to include all of the information which we think is important.

You can use different shapes to represent different sounds, and different colours or shading to represent different sound textures (timbre). You can place objects higher or lower to represent pitch, and make them bigger or smaller to represent loudness.

How Do We Draw Sounds?

All sounds have a shape, and we can hear this shape.

All we need to do is practice our listening so that we can recognise these shapes.

Listening Challenge

Recognising Sound Shapes

Below are some sounds accompanied by a sketch drawing that describes the sound.

Listen to the sound and then look at the image.

  • Can you hear/see the connection between the sounds and images?
  • Do any connections work better than others?
  • Would you have drawn any of these examples differently?

Example One

Example Two

Example Three

Example Four

Example Five

Activity – Match sounds and images

There are even more sounds and images that match each other!





Click this link to download the sounds and images

Make Your Own Drawings of Sound

Activity – Draw the Sounds

Click on the link below to download and listen to some sounds. Then sketch your own drawing of them on the worksheet:
Download Ears2 Draw Sounds Pack

  • What shape might they have? – Smooth, sharp, large, small.
  • What direction might they be going in? – Up, down, side to side.
  • What colour or shading might they have? – Hollow, solid, patterned.
  • Should there be more than one shape?

Compare Your Drawings

Once you have drawn out these sounds, swap your sketches with a friend. How are your images similar? How are they different? Why might they be different?

Compositional Tip

You might find it useful to use drawings of sounds to plan out a composition or make sense of what is happening in a recording.

Sketching out the piece on paper before you make it can be a really useful way to organise your thoughts, and the actions and transformations that you need to make.

Lesson Content