Cody Hill
Cody Hill researched foley artistry for a class project and applies it in "The Mystery of Edwin Drood."


Of sound mind

Audience members enjoying The Mystery of Edwin Drood may have noticed the guy in the orchestra pit making all the old-fashioned sound effects. That is Cody Hill, a senior pursuing a design/technology degree, who researched foley artistry — the technique behind sound effects — for a capstone project. His findings and innovations added fun and authenticity to the show, extending the illusion that the audience is in a Victorian Music Hall.

Cast member Joey DeMers interviewed Hill about the project.

DeMers: What separates Drood from any other shows you have worked on?

Hill: This is the first show that I have sound designed that included live sound effects. In most other shows I either found recordings or had to make them on the fly. This is also the first kind of show where I will be in costume and running a tech position.

DeMers: How do you feel about finishing up working at CMU, and what are your plans for the future?

It feels bittersweet to think I will be done with school until I decide it’s time to go back again. CMU was definitely a great learning experience as I thought I was going to focus on stage management and instead fell in love with sound design.

My future plans include moving to Oregon and putting my degree to good use as I look into work either as a sound technician or pursue the wild dream of being a DJ.

DeMers: What do you hope for the audience to take away from your work in this production?

That hard work can be visible not only from the actor’s side of the stage, but the technician’s side as well. Sound design very rarely gets the chance to be visible when you have the wonderful elements of light and set to look at so any chance I can get I want to run wild with it.

DeMers: What have you learned from working on foley?

That the most unexpected objects can surprise you when you’re desperately researching how to make the appropriate effect. Most everyone knows that using two halves of a coconut can produce horse hooves, but I was shocked a box of Velveeta could make the chugging noise of a train. If that wasn’t shocking enough I was completely unaware that a couple of solid iron weights could make a fantastic grinding noise for a mausoleum.

DeMers: What are some challenges and surprises you have discovered from working on foley?

The wind machine. When it was brought up during a pre-design meeting I was nervous as I’ve never seen one in action and wasn’t completely confident I could make it work. However, I took one look at a video demo of a wind machine and took to the task. Within three days of constant tinkering, testing and muslin ripping I perfected my wind machine and gained a better appreciation for foley artists.

DeMers: How has working foley on this show changed your insight as a sound designer?

It has given me a better appreciation and understanding of looking at the world. If some guy can look at a box of macaroni, some coconuts and a sheet of flimsy metal and get creative with the aforementioned items, then I can definitely rise to the challenge and figure out what my imagination really holds.

Media Contact

Laura Bradley, CMU Box Office Manager

970.248.1954 (o)