Silence. The audio version of a deep breath. That perfect space between sounds where, even if for just a moment, things feel still.
Silence is a treasured experience for anyone, but especially for us city folks. New York is constantly buzzing, beeping, swirling, swearing, grating, singing, and swooshing. Moments of complete silence almost start to feel eerie… then they become powerful, impactful and rejuvenating.
Silence, just like sound, is a powerful tool. It has the ability to encourage relaxation, create space between experiences and increase suspense. Silence permeates all that we do at Man Made Music. We like to say it’s our white space; meaning silence can sometimes be just as powerful and impactful as sound. It’s one of our Founder Joel Beckerman’s seven principles for creating powerful experiences with sound. It’s a tool we often deploy and one that the pros, like Disney, know just how to tap into.
Have you ever been to Disney World or Disneyland? Silence is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. However, you’d be surprised to know it’s one of Disney’s most powerful tools for creating magical experiences. Joe Herrington, a Principal Media Designer of Walt Disney Imagineering, has said, “half the storytelling experience is sound”. At Disneyland the concept of “fake quiet” is created through the gentle sounds of forests and birds. This acts as a natural barrier between the different lands and allows guests to decompress, take a mental breath and enter a new land with a refreshed palette.
Imagine yourself in a hotel elevator climbing 199 feet into the air while a story is being told of a group of people who mysteriously disappeared from this hotel. Now imagine the sound of snapping cables and splintering wires and then catching your breath as you plummet almost 200 feet. Scary right? Now imagine this, at Disney’s property in Tokyo, they have this same attraction. However, they’ve removed the snapping and splintering sounds from the elevator, meaning: no warning. This is to amplify anticipation, heighten suspense and ensure guests have no idea they’re about to make the dreaded drop. Scarier right? Proof of the emotional power of silence.
So there you have it! Straight from the pros: it’s not always about the use of sound or music but also the use of silence. Its power is felt in our everyday lives when we take a quiet minute to recharge but it’s also felt in some of our most magical and impactful experiences.
Want to learn more about the seven principles of sound? Joel will be speaking on this topic early next month at PromaxBDA The Conference in LA. Keep an eye on this and our social media spaces for all the tips.
Elizabeth Mainiero is Account Executive, Brand Partnerships at Man Made Music. Talk to her on Twitter @ecmains.