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May 22, 2020 at 10:00 am – May 30, 2020 at 3:30 pm

Think Like a Composer: Creative Approaches to Sound Designing Your Podcast

Led by Shani Aviram

This workshop is SOLD OUT.

Please sign up for the waitlist below to receive updates regarding any openings or similar future opportunities.

Please note: Due to COVID-19, UnionDocs workshops are being held remotely, over video conference.

We’ve restructured the experience to optimize this format, offering a functional rhythm and pace, while continuing the strong combination of theory, practice, expert feedback and community that participants love.

In podcasting and radio, we often encounter music and sound design as devices for pacing, embellishments or injections of vibrancy. The quickening or glacial pace of these devices, generally known as ancillary elements, allow the listener to create visual worlds. As legendary film editor and sound designer Walter Murch once said, “…sound helps the mind see”. Sound adds texture, structure and time – the bedrocks of musical composition. What would it mean to apply composition principles to your podcast? What does it look like to create a structure based not only on narrative action, but on a sense of time and density of sounds?  In short, how does one think like a composer?

Think Like a Composer: Creative approaches to sound designing your podcast, led by composer and sound designer Shani Aviram (The Heart, KCRW’s Unfictional) will guide participants through the practice of listening for ‘movements’ within your writing and recordings. We will survey various forms of audio art forms including: documentary, traditional and experimental audio drama, music and sound art. Breaking down how sound design contributes to tension and affect, world-building and story mechanics. An experimentation of concepts and techniques such as spatialization, EQing, reverb, filtering, and matching words to beats. Participants will learn principles and methods borrowed from film editing, music theory, and psychoacoustics and how applying these techniques in podcasting can create a cinematic, potent and lasting experience for the listener. 

This workshop will be split into two weekends, the second half of the workshop will be a practical guide to sound production tools and techniques that can be found in most audio editing applications – without having to break the bank. We will also discuss how to source inspiration from mediums outside of radio and podcasting and use those to innovate in our field. Guest artists Charmaine Lee (Experimental Vocalist;  MoMA PS1, ISSUE Project Room), Lea Bertucci (Sound Designer; The Museum of Modern Art New York, The Tonebook), will talk about experimental approaches to sound design in live music, theater productions and dance, and Richard Parks III (Producer; Snap Judgment, Wayne Coyne’s Human Head-Shaped Tumour, Richard’s Famous Food Podcast) will guide participants through varied sonic styles and approaches to mixing. 


Open to everyone, though the workshop setting is best suited for sound artists, podcasters, filmmakers, writers, journalists, curators, musicians and media artists.

Give us an idea of who you are and why you are coming. When you register you will be sent a short statement of interest that should briefly describe your experience and a current project (it would be great if you have a project in progress that you would present to the group during the work-in-progress critique sessions, but not necessary), plus a bio. There’s a spot for a link to a work sample.

$295 early bird registration by May 15th, 2020 at 5PM.

$350 regular registration.

The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until May 15th. After May 15th, the fee is non-refundable.

As this is an online workshop, participants must be fully proficient using and operating their computers.

To register for a workshop, students must pay in full via card, check, or cash . After the early bird registration deadline of May 15th, course fees are not refundable or transferable and any withdrawals or deadlines will result in the full cost of the class being forfeit. There will be no exceptions. To withdraw from a course please email info-at-uniondocs.org.

In the event that a workshop does not receive sufficient enrollment, it may be canceled. Students will be notified at least 48 hours prior to the start of a cancelled workshop and will be refunded within 5 business days. If we reschedule a workshop to another date, students are also entitled to a full refund. UnionDocs reserves the right to change instructors without prior notification, and to change class location and meeting times by up to an hour with 48 hours prior notice.

Please note: Participants are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Friday, May 22, – 10:00am - 3:30pm

Intro & Welcome by Shani Aviram

AM: How to Listen: A survey of sound design in audio art, music and radio docs and dramas with Shani Aviram

PM: Intro to time+space: The only tools you need in sound with Shani Aviram

Saturday, May 23 – 10:00am - 3:30pm

AM: How to ‘storyboard’ your sound design and music into your stories with Shani Aviram

PM: Presentation and discussion with Richard Parks III

Friday, May 29 – 10:00am - 3:30pm

AM: Intro to Audio Tools and Techniques Part 1: creating space – reverb, eqing and delay with Shani Aviram

PM: Presentation and discussion with Lea Bertucci

Saturday, May 30 – 10:00am - 3:30pm

AM: Intro to Audio Tools Part 2: Time – editing music and beats with Shani Aviram

PM:  Presentation and discussion with Charmaine Lee

Each day follows this general structure, with some minor variations and substitutions:


Warm up, inspiring references, case study, eye training.


Presentation by guest speaker + individual work-in-progress critique




Share / Discussion / Exercise


Lunch (on your own)


Presentation by guest speaker + individual work-in-progress critique




Shani Aviram is a composer and sound designer based in Philadelphia. Her work has been heard on The Heart, Radiolab, BBC, Audible Originals and The CBC and she has taught sound design workshops at the University of Pennsylvania and Rowan University. Her work moves between noise, sound collage, experimental and dance music, often exploring how digital processes can create uncanny textures from the human voice and percussion. Shani’s compositions have been performed at Virginia Tech’s CubeFest and Megapolis Audio Festival. She is also a member of Philly\AV, a multimedia collective focused on interactive audio-visual performances.

Lea Bertucci is a composer, performer and sound designer whose work describes relationships between acoustic phenomena and biological resonance. In addition to her instrumental practice with woodwind instruments, she incorporates multi-channel speaker arrays, electroacoustic feedback, extended instrumental technique and tape collage. In recent years, her projects have expanded toward site-responsive and site-specific sonic investigations of architecture. Deeply experimental, her work is unafraid to subvert musical expectation. Her discography includes a number of solo and collaborative releases on independent labels and in 2018, she released the critically acclaimed Metal Aether on NNA tapes. Lea is co-editor of the multi-volume artists book The Tonebook, a survey of graphic scores by contemporary composers, published on Inpatient Press. As a sound designer, Lea has collaborated with dance and theater companies including Big Dance Theater, Pig Iron Theater, Piehole!, and director Mallory Catlett. Her musical collaborations extend to other chamber-noise projects, notably a recently formed duo with vocalist Amirtha Kidambi, who released their debut album Phase Eclipse on Astral Spirits Records in the fall of 2019. As a solo artist, she has performed extensively across the US and Europe with presenters such as The Museum of Modern Art New York, Blank Forms, Museo Reina Sofia Madrid, Pioneer Works, The Kitchen, Roulette, The Walker Museum, Caramoor, The Renaissance Society Chicago, Muziekgebeow Amsterdam, and Unsound Festival, Krakow. She is a 2016 MacDowell Fellow in composition and a 2015 ISSUE Project Room Artist-in-Residence. In 2018, she received a commission from the American Composers’ Forum for a new percussion trio as well as a brass octet commissioned by the Levy Gorvy Gallery in New York.

Charmaine Lee is a New York-based vocalist. Her music is predominantly improvised, favoring a uniquely personal approach to vocal expression concerned with spontaneity, playfulness, and risk-taking. Beyond extended vocal technique, Charmaine uses amplification, feedback, and microphones to augment and distort the voice. She has performed with leading improvisers Nate Wooley, id m theft able, and Joe Morris, and maintains ongoing collaborations with Conrad Tao, Victoria Shen, Zach Rowden, and Eric Wubbels. She has performed at ISSUE Project Room, the Kitchen, Roulette, the Stone, and MoMA PS1, and festivals including Resonant Bodies, New York Festival of Song, and Ende Tymes. As a composer, Charmaine has been commissioned by the Wet Ink Ensemble (2018) and Spektral Quartet (2018). She was recently an Artist-in-Residence at ISSUE Project Room (2019).

Richard Parks III is a multi-hyphenate living in Los Angeles. His short films include Music Man Murray (a documentary about a man, his son, and hundreds of thousands of records), a micro-doc about Biosphere2 that was a Vimeo staff pick, and an underwater video entitled Noise, with musician Nicolas Jaar. He was a producer on The Ballad Of Esequiel Hernandez, a documentary aired on POV and nominated for an investigative Emmy, and he has shot films in India and Cambodia. He is the co-author of the Guerrilla Tacos cookbook (10 Speed Press) and has written for Lucky Peach, the New York Times, and McSweeney’s. He is a James Beard Award nominee. He made a musical radio drama with the Flaming Lips for KCRW, has contributed to Snap Judgment, and he hosts Richard’s Famous Food Podcast.

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May 22, 2020 at 10:00 am
May 30, 2020 at 3:30 pm
$285.00 – $295.00

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