Italian Cinema’s Sound Archives

Foley Practices and Post-production Techniques, 1960–70


  • Ilario Meandri University of Turin



Italian cinema, film sound, Foley artists


This article presents a historiographical inquiry into the instruments and technologies employed in Italian Foley art during the 1960s, drawing on an ethnography of the manual techniques involved in sound post-production. It draws on extensive research based on oral accounts of technical directors, Foley artists, rerecording mixers, and sound technicians employed in post-production facilities in and around Rome since the late 1950s. The first section considers the Foley artist’s status and responsibilities within the industrial organization of sound post-production in the 1960s; the second analyzes a category of sound effects in which Foley artists specialized early on, the so-called rumori sala(“Foley stage sounds”). The third section examines how Foley artists progressively extended the scope of their work to include ambienti (“ambient sounds”) and so-called effetti sonori speciali (“special sound effects”), which had previously been the prerogative of fonici (“re-recording and production sound mixers”). The final section discusses the long-term consequences of these changes in the creation of ambient sounds. There is also brief consideration of the introduction and development of the so-called macchina per ambienti(“ambient sound machine”), which remained in vogue in post-production practices until the mid-1990s and was, as far as is known, used exclusively in Italy.

Author Biography

Ilario Meandri, University of Turin

llario Meandri, Ph.D., ethnomusicologist, is Assistant Professor at the University of Turin. He has carried out field research in Italy (alpine carnival traditions); Kosovo, Macedonia and Greece (on Rom wedding repertoires and on Albanian epic singing); Liguria and northern Italy (on the para-liturgical polyvocality of oral tradition); United States and Rome (on the soundtracks of North American contemporary mainstream cinema and on the Italian Foley artists and special effects editors). In 2008 he concluded a four-year doctoral research (University of Turin and Milan) on American film music, an ethnomusicological analysis of musical and audiovisual clichés, stereotypes and topoi in contemporary mainstream productions. He has published essays and books on both ethnomusicology and film music. At present his research focuses on Foley artists, sound postproduction practices and the history of sound recording in Italy during the 1960s and 1970s.


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How to Cite

Meandri, I. (2019). Italian Cinema’s Sound Archives: Foley Practices and Post-production Techniques, 1960–70. Journal of Film Music, 8(1-2), 66–88.