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THTR 563 Advanced Sound Design Class Project
Purdue University


Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Richard K. Thomas
Sound Design by Jeff Sherwood
Music Composition by Jeff Sherwood
Cue Sequences

Cleft My Heart in Twain (Live Performance Recording with Actors)

     Hamlet: Wyndham Maxwell

     Gertrude: Carly Christensen

     Polonius: Richard K. Thomas

     King Hamlet's Ghost: Richard K. Thomas

Hamlet: Cleft My Heart in Twain Cue Sequence - Jeff Sherwood

Cocktail Party

     Original Music Cue Sequence Shared with Director

Hamlet: Cocktail Party Cue Sequence - Jeff Sherwood

How All Occasions Do Inform Against Me

     Original Music Cue Sequence Shared with Director

Hamlet: How All Occasions Cue Sequence - Jeff Sherwood
Sound Design & Composition Concept

Are ghosts real or fake?  That is what Elsinore’s Prince Hamlet wonders as he hears news that his recently deceased father has appeared in the form of a ghost. The ghost reveals that his own brother, the newly crowned King Claudius, murdered him.  As Hamlet sets out to avenge his father’s death, he is distracted by love, doubt, and procrastination.  He grows mad and takes out his frustrations on his girlfriend and mother.  But the persistent ghost continues to haunt him and Hamlet refocuses his energies to kill Claudius. 

We feel this timeless classic is most poignant to society today.  The action and madness is inspired by our current administration in the White House, centering on the Trump family.  The play will enable the audience to empathically follow Hamlet, cast as future Barron Trump, as he explores his feelings of powerlessness to “take up arms against a sea of troubles.”  Themes of revenge, anger, regret, unrequited love, despair, and fate will resonate with audiences through the elements of the play merged with the sound score.  

The sound score will consist of both measured and unmeasured musical themes and aural textures to underscore the varying rhythms along the journey.  Time is out of joint theme will feature overlapping melodies and chopped clips of songs, with the effect that the world is out of control.  This will have layered sounds and a driving and fast tempo. Revenge theme will instill strong emotions in the audience, perhaps the most important to put the audience into Hamlet’s shoes.  It will employ repetitive motifs contrasted with sweeping glissandos and chords by a string orchestra.  Anger theme will embody the eruption of anger through loud crashes from timpani, cymbals, and sound effects.  The non-tonality of the theme will allow for layering over top of other themes, and will be mostly used for punctuation moments.  Unrequited love theme will mostly consist of an acoustic guitar to embody the singer-songwriter Ophelia’s emotions.  There will also be moments where additional instruments of a modern rock band are added to differentiate the professional career of Ophelia to common YouTubers.  The supernatural ghost theme will be more unmeasured and have an ambience quality. There will be sharp dissonances over long periods of time to heighten the fear in the audience.  The observational spy theme will mostly consist of electronic sound effects as inspired by 1980’s sci-fi films.  The high pitched whirring and beeping will layer over an underlying deep moving tones to create suspense.  The despair theme will be a slow unmeasured pulse created with the combination of a string orchestra and electronic bass chords. The scene change motif will have short punctuations to propel the action into the next scene.  

Other motifs including sports and hip-hop will exemplify songs and game shows of today.  Live microphones will also be used to aurally change the environment of the story, using a reverberant hall effect with characters are being spied upon by others.  A very close, intimate feeling will be used for all of Hamlet’s soliloquies as no other person can spy upon his thoughts.  


Click on an image below for a detailed description.

© 2023 Jeff Sherwood. 

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