The Sounds Of Star Wars
Muse Science Magazine for Kids|May/June 2021
This is the sound design activity you’re looking for.
By Richard Rickitt

R2-D2’S voice. A blaster firing. Vader’s heavy breathing. Sound designer Ben Burtt created the legendary sounds for the Star Wars films. Burtt faced the task of using the objects of this world to create the sounds of another, completely alien world. He was guided in his choices by the story of the films. “The story is essentially about good and evil,” he says, “so I designed sounds that reflected that. Imperial ships and weapons tended to be shrieking and howling, frightening and ominous. Rebel spaceships, locations, and weapons, on the other hand, sounded less threatening, less sleek, and more organic.”

Burtt found many of the sounds that he used in unexpected places. When he wanted to create the sound of spaceships, he visited a NASA rocket testing facility to record their rocket engines. But in the end, he didn’t use the rocket sounds. Instead he used the sound of a faulty air conditioner in his hotel room!

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