Sounds Around Us

Sounds Around Us

What do sounds tell us about a situation?

Further develop your listening skills and learn to decode the sounds around us.

Can You Hear What’s Going On?

When we listen to the sounds around us, we can often tell quite a lot about what’s going on.

We can often tell:

  • How busy and active a soundscape is.
  • What type of space it is (enclosed or open).
  • How many different objects there are creating sounds.
  • If these objects are moving/changing together (or independently?)

As you develop your listening skills, you will be able to listen in greater detail to sounds, learning about specific sonic characteristics and their relationships to the source and context.

Hearing the Sounds of Activity

Actions make sounds. The more actions that take place, the more sounds are created.

A busy location will sound different to a quiet one.

Listen to these soundscapes and compare the levels of activity:


Is it busy, is it quiet?

What might be happening?

What tells you about the activities?

Can you hear any movement? Close your eyes and imagine where you might be.

Recreating ‘Realistic’ Soundscapes

If we understand these cues, then we can construct them in reverse and create imaginary soundscapes, that still seem real. We might call these ‘truth-like’.

Sound designers often work this way in film, taking inspiration from sounds in the real world. Think, for example, about the sounds in an animated film. Animations are completely made up (either drawn or made using computers), so they do not come with their own sounds. Any sounds in an animated film have been imported from elsewhere.

Listening Challenge

Laser Gun

One great example of this is the sound of a ‘laser gun’. Most people will be able to make an impression of a laser gun sound (“Piaoow”).

BUT, there are no real laser guns, not even outside of animations. So, the sound of the laser gun had to come from somewhere else.


A laser gun sound.

So if there are no real laser guns to record, then what made this sound?

Click HERE to find out:

A slinky and a paper cup!

So how does it work?

Click here to find out…


Why not listen out for common, everyday sounds that could also be used in film or animations to accompany fantastical objects.

Close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you. Then, imagine something fantastical as the source of the sound.

Use your imagination to guess what these sounds could be:

What is going on?

The more fantastical, the better.

What could this be?

Use your imagination.

Imagine something alien making this sound.

What is it doing?

Discuss your ideas with a friend.