Schools tuning into the Sound Effects Gallery online will have plenty to listen to after more than 4 million new files are loaded on to its website. The gallery, which is part of the Tate, is adding new sounds acquired from the Cinesound archive, available for free listening.
The archive is at www.sound-effects-library.com and its latest material includes recordings of the bombing of Portsmouth harbour in the Second World War, Sir Winston Churchill's state funeral, huge crowd scenes from the film Cromwell, and sound from all the Bond movies, including speedboat chases along the Thames. Schools will need the Shockwave plug-in to hear sound effects and music samples. The listening format includes a barely audible hiss as an anti-piracy device to stop copying or unauthorised downloading.
Lloyd Billing, managing director of the Sound Effects Gallery, believes sound has a unique role to play in learning: "Sounds can take you anywhere in time, and can teach people the emotion of the moment in a way that books alone can't." The Cinesound collction, most of which comes from Elstree Film Studios, includes the work of the world's leading sound recordists. "This collection is unique and contains sounds that no other library could possibly archive," he adds.
As well as listening to sound, schools may want to download files, many of which are free. These are well catalogued and easy to find by following the links. Other files to download range in price from pound;1 to pound;10, and the website expects wealthy advertising agencies to be its major customers. Readers of the TES, with educational use for chargeable downloaded files, are invited to contact Mr Billing with their request; fees could be waived.
Helen Whitehead, an ICT adviser to schools and editor of Kids on the Net website, agrees there are many uses for sound files in schools. "Sounds work well as background for reading to kids," she says. Other uses include enhancing role plays and short dramas. Multimedia topics in Year 6 and school plays provide further opportunity to use sound. However, she cautions against exclusively using ready-made sound. " It could be more educational,and fun, for pupils to record their own, and equipment isn't that expensive," she says.