Sound Design

Department Information

The Sound Design program is focused on developing the artistic, compositional, and technical engineering skills of sound designers and composers through substantial academic offerings and a set of practical design opportunities that together provide a solid professional training experience. This rigorous preparation readies students for a variety of design and engineering jobs related to music and sound in performance. It is also directly applicable to teaching the art and craft of sound design.

Christopher Ross-Ewart ('17) and David Budries, Chair, Sound Design. Photo by Joan Marcus, 2017.
Christopher Ross-Ewart ('17) and David Budries, Chair, Sound Design. Photo by Joan Marcus, 2017.

The Sound Design experience at Yale School of Drama is unique in that the five areas of design—set, costume, lighting, projection, and sound—are integrated. All designers are encouraged to take introductory course work in each of the design areas. This course work provides students with a core of basic knowledge and the ability to exercise good communication skills through the design process, while helping to build camaraderie and respect among designers. This ensemble approach provides a foundation for networking as design professionals after graduation. Collaboration is an essential part of the experience at the School of Drama.

The program is rigorous. Students must be dedicated and willing to work hard. The course work covers design aesthetics, script interpretation, dramaturgy, music composition, critical listening, professional collaboration, sound and music technology, acoustics, aural imaging in large spaces, investigations into psychoacoustics, digital audio production, advanced sound delivery systems, advanced problem solving, advanced digital applications, production organization, and professional development, that work in concert with a wide variety of practical assignments.

The Designers and Directors Workshop is a unique class in which directors and sound designers focus on communication and exploration of each other’s production process. During the course, playwrights and projection designers are invited into the process, allowing all these artists to devise and to explore new works together.

All students attend Sound Design Master Classes and Sound Seminars. In these meetings, current production work, concepts for design, production problems, and current technological developments are discussed. Visiting artists, designers, engineers, and technicians are also invited to present and discuss their work.

The Sound Design program sponsors critiques of current productions as part of Master Class. Attendees discuss all aspects of the work including the storytelling, dramaturgy, acting, directing, all design, and music.

To complement the academic work, the core training revolves around practical production assignments that include working on medium- to large-scale student productions as well as professional design work at Yale Repertory Theatre. These hands-on assignments provide invaluable practical learning experiences. Additionally, Yale Cabaret provides students with up to eighteen extracurricular design opportunities annually. These hands-on assignments provide practical learning experiences on a smaller scale.

To support this work, students have access to four production studio spaces: a multidiscipline design laboratory, a teaching studio, and two musical instrument libraries. In this program, students are required to develop their own digital audio workstations while they are in school so that upon graduation, students have their personal studios in place, ready to continue their professional work.

Another unique class, Auditory Culture, was developed to encourage in-depth conversations about the impact of sound and music on our culture—past, present, and future. The participants drive the course content. No related topic is off-limits, and the class is open to professional students from any discipline. This is our most popular crossdisciplinary offering.

The Sound Design program nurtures individual creativity and exploration. Its goal is to train professionals who will become leaders in the field of professional theatrical sound design.