Sara Pinheiro

Centrum audiovizuálních studií FAMU, Czech Republic;


The research project “Acousmatic Foley” addresses common traits between foley art and Concrete Music, based on the idea that the foley artist is an acousmatic listener and, in turn, that acousmatic listening is a form of fiction. In line with this, the study argues that both fields have similar treatment of the “sonorous object”. For this purpose, the research builds on two lines of thought: the “son-en-scène” and the “mise-en-son”. Firstly, the “son-en-scène” focuses on the sounds of the filmic mise-en-scène (and its sound props), from very early cases to contemporary instances. The focus on these sound-props provides a perspective of sound for film that emphasizes its role as a tool of fiction and, thus, foley as the craft that leads to that experience. Secondly, “mise-en-son” sheds light on the making of the sound itself by exploring the concept of musical gesture. Either in contexts in which the musical gesture is visible (as with instruments), more cryptic (as with electronic devices), or completely delegated (as in acousmatic music), gesture can be seen a form of agency. Given that foley consists of maneuvering a sound-prop, gesture is as central to foley as it is to musical practices. Furthermore, the idea of gesture carries the same conception of the “sonorous object”, that of an “intentional unit”. In this line, and in particular when of acousmatic nature, the sonorous object is analogous to the sound-prop. Within this context, this paper puts forward an understanding of “foley gesture” via the case study of “reticências” – a live performance of FM noises and incidental sounds. The relationship between incidental sounds (foley) and abstract noises (electronic music) in “reticências” demonstrates how the idea of gesture can go from shaping the sound further into the way the sound is perceived (staging sound fiction). In other words, the concept of gesture in “reticências” bridges the poietic and esthetic, as in Nattiez’s semiotic distinction, towards an experience of “acousmatic foley”.

Keywords: Foley; Gesture; Acousmatic; Film; Sound Design.


Sara Pinheiro (1985) is a sound-maker. For film and video-art, she does sound recording, editing, foley and mixing. In her solo practice, she makes acousmatic pieces, usually for multichannel performances, radio broadcasts or installations. She is a member of the live-coding group K-o-l-e-k-t-i-v and collaborates with the Bystrouška Sound Studios, in Prague. She graduated in Cinema (Lisbon, 2008) and holds a Master of Music in Sonology (The Hague, 2012), where she is a guest lecturer. She has been part of the teaching committee at CAS – FAMU since 2013. Her academic work is practice-based research under the name of “Acousmatic Foley”. She is currently a PhD student at The School of Music and Media in the Bangor University (Uk), under the Parry Williams scholarship.