HIS ENGINE’S VOICE, A workshop on sonic sketching for future car sound.

When: 1—2 OCTOBER 2014, 22-23 OCTOBER 2014
Where: Multiple location


Electric drive vehicles are essentially silent, if we esclude the sound produced by the tyres and by the airflow. The lack of the typical combustion engine sound sets several issues regarding the design of the acoustic behaviour of these vehicles, in terms of both road safety and overall driving experience.

The proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the sound level of motor vehicles (COM/2011/0865) [1] states that “a) The sound to be generated by the AVAS (Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System) should be a continuous sound that provides information to the pedestrians and vulnerable road users of a vehicle in operation […]; b)The sound to be generated by the AVAS should be easily indicative of vehicle behaviour, for example, through the automatic variation of sound level or characteristics in synchronization with vehicle speed. […]”.
In addition to the development of AVAS electronic systems for sound synthesis and diffusion, vehicle manufacturers are investing in the design of synthetic sounds tailored to electric vehicle models, with the goal of enhancing both the brand’ sound identity and the product experience [2].


At the early stage of every design process, the sound designer develops, fix and communicate a large variety of initial ideas, in a quick and effective way. Vocal sketching is an emerging practice aimed at producing and proliferating sonic sketches, by exploiting what humans normally use to communicate acoustic phenomena: vocal imitations and gesticulations.

This workshop on vocal sketching practices is especially focused on sound design for future cars. The contents of the workshop are articulated in two days of exercises and design activities, as follows:


  • Sonic sketches, from vocal imitations to sketching:
  1. sensitisation and training to basic techniques for vocal sound effects;
  2. introductory exercises to vocal sketching: acoustic narratives, typo-morphological articulation of vocal sounds.
  • The voice of engine:
  1. basic mechanics of the engine and sound analysis;
  2. basic techniques and training to vocal imitation of engine sounds;
  3. models for engine sound synthesis.


  • typo-morphological exploration of the engine sound, by means of vocalizations;
  • vocal sketching and rapid prototyping by means of synthetic sound models, according to a given design assignment.


Participation to the workshop is free and open to a maximum of 15 applicants.
The application, including personal data, a short bio/cv, and a letter of motivation, should be submitted to stefano.dellemonache [at] iuav.it.

[1] http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/IT/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52011PC0856&from=EN
[2] Audi E-Tron: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoEDLvQZg5I