What is sound scenography?

When someone asks us what we do at TAUCHER, can you imagine that, after a decade, I still struggle with an answer? One of the two frequent replies I use is, "I do sound design." However, sound design works great in situations when I'm not particularly eager to engage in a conversation about my work. It's quite a catch-all term that embraces a felt everything. "I am a consultant" would do a similar effect. The other reply that I frequently use is, "I do sound scenography." And I can be sure that this answer triggers a follow-up questuion, so it perfectly works in situations when I like to spark curiosity about my work. Only then it usually becomes tricky: explain what it means.

Why would I frequently try to avoid elaborating on my work? Well, the term sound scenography perfectly outlines my work, and I absolutely love that term. We even decided to put that term on our flag and incorporate it into our studio's name! Reality is, it sits uncomfortably in my attempts to make understandable to others what it practically means because virtually nobody has ever heard about it. In the small community that engages in sound scenography, we hardly share a vague definition, and we even use different terms interchangeably.

But still, sound scenography is a distinct discipline. It's distinct because it embraces a different set of activities compared to other disciplines such as mixing engineers, recording engineers, film sound designers, composers, dialogue editors, foley artists, or sound supervisors — only to name a few. And the discipline is linked to a specific field: staged spaces. But what is sound scenography concretely? What is the purpose of sound scenography? Does it have to do with emotion? Is sound scenography relevant to communication? Is it a philosophical approach? What is the connection between sound and scenography? What are the instruments of sound scenography? In the scenographic practice, why does sound matter at all?

At that point, this blog series begins. Here, we will explore the idea of sound scenography. We will reflect on how our work relates to exhibition design practice, museum studies, communication theory, media theory, philosophy, learning theory, the construction of meaning, dramaturgy, and related fields. While — as in this initial note — we might find more questions than answers, this blog series is an explorative journey through the underpinnings and foundations of our work, open to discussion and critique, and aiming at bringing light into the yet shady realm of sound in staged spaces.