With a bit of creativity and some low-cost computer speakers, it is possible to create some eerie sounds for Halloween. To do this for the typical display of jack o’lanterns is easy enough, and many of the items can be had cheaply on Ebay or at neighbourhood yard sales.
Halloween sound effects do not require high fidelity, they simply need to be sounds either associated with spooky things, like chains rattling, low level moans, dogs whining and the like, or just occasional unusual sounds out of place. People do not usually expect cackling or laughter from a carved Halloween Pumpkin!
How to Give a Carved Pumpkin a Voice
Computer speakers are well-suited to audio-enabling a pumpkin – something cheap and nasty, preferably something battery-powered from the 1990s. Once the pumpkin has been carved, the holes are enough to let the sound out, and the speakers can either be set unobtrusively nearby or one can be set into a large pumpkin, depending on how small they are.
Some battery-powered computer speakers have one speaker with the batteries and volume control, and the other channel on a simple jack plug. If such a set is used and it works with only the side containing the batteries there is no need to use the other half.
These speakers usually have a cable with a 3.5mm stereo jack attached which goes into a PC or an MP3 player. The sound source can be placed in the house and run out to the street display, or a cheap used MP3 player can be sourced on Ebay. A flash-based player of 64MB capacity is fine, as the loop of ghoulish sounds can be recorded at 96kbps MP3. Alternatively, a portable CD player will work just as well, set to random track play.
How to Make a Ghostly Halloween Soundtrack
Surprise is the essence of the Halloween soundtrack. Make much of it will be silence, with only the odd burst of wails, rattling chains or cackling in the distance. The free open source program Audacity runs on PCs, Macs and Linux and enables anybody with a computer microphone to record some suitable sounds. Alternatively, there are many sounds available on the Internet that can be used, and sites such as freesound.org where Halloween sounds can be downloaded.
These can be put onto the MP3 player, and mixed in with some tracks of varying length of silence. Compress these at 64kbps since silence compresses well. If there are 20 Halloween sounds, a good mix would be 40 silent tracks varying between 1 minute and up to 5 minutes. With the player on random mix, the result will be the occasional ghostly sound interspersed with long periods of silence, which is just right for a really eerie result. If the sounds are kept short, less than 10 seconds, it will be hard to locate them in the night-time environment.
Sounds can add an extra ghostly dimension to Halloween if it is done right. Remember to show neighborly consideration and decommission the sounds by midnight. All the equipment is low voltage battery powered, so there is no electrical hazard even if it rains
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