Sound And Silence

“In radio, you have two tools. Sound and silence.”

-Ira Glass

Hello everybody! Today I am going to reflect on some of the watchings and readings I did this week.

To begin I want to explain my experience with audio. Last year in my FSEM, I created a podcast about Female Athletes and their Representation in Digital Media. I had worked somewhat with audio before making that podcast. However, if you listen to the podcast you’ll hear a lot of bad edits and poorly balanced audio. So, I guess you could say that I am also coming into this class a little new to audio.

Something I learned from the videos we watched is that radio’s lack of images is actually a strength. Because of it being solely audio, radio allows imagination. It not only allows imagination, but a collaborative imagination between the audience and creator to exist. These two become almost partners and create the visual aesthetic as one.

The thing that really resonated with me was how beautiful and powerful the un-edited human voice is. Jad Abumrad eloquently expresses the musicality of the human voice. Our natural ups and downs of our voice lend to the magical quality it has. I also think that Jad Abumrad’s idea of the intimacy of the voice resonated with me. When he was discussing this, I could not help but think of a phone call. I especially thought of phone calls with my siblings or my parents. Obviously, it’s not like a normal call as there can be sound effects and commercials. But, the focus on the human voice and its simplicity lends to the empathetic and powerful value it has.

Furthermore, I do agree with Jad Abumrad’s connection of radio to storytelling. I think that there is an innate desire in humans to just listen to someone talk. Not only to talk, but to capture our attention and take us on a journey. This desire has had to change to the medium of each audience. So, I agree that radio is just storytelling in a different medium. Instead of being around a campfire, we are around our radios. Having that sense that we are all doing the same action or activity despite not being physically being together, creates that sense of being around the campfire. Thus, new storytelling is hardly “new” as it is just “ancient” storytelling done in a different way.

Moreover, I was able to listen to Detective Stories which were cut from a Radiolab show. In this I was able to find what techniques worked well and what didn’t. What I think worked well in this show was the layering style of the audio. The narrator would be speaking over himself and sometimes some music. This gave it a more realistic feel and avoided the over sterile human voice effect.  Something that didn’t work to well was the crazy overlapping dialogue. Sometimes I would be confused by who was talking. I think in this case having such quick back and forths didn’t help keep the show lively and made me a little frustrated.

Something that didn’t make sense to me at first was what a bumper was. I was really unsure by what this meant, but a quick Google search told me that a bumper is the short clip (like theme music) used to buffer transitions between programming elements. To be completely honest, I kept thinking of Bumper from Pitch Perfect when I was trying to figure out what it meant.

I think that through these readings I was able to understand how to create a sense of place through audio. One can add room tone or sound effects to help transform the listeners’ room into the situation one is describing. This precise and knowing stacking of voice, sound effects and music helps the listener absorb themself into the environment. It even makes the listener feel as if they are involved in the story. I think that learning this will help me in the future with the radio program.

Overall, I did enjoy these readings and watchings. They really helped me ponder what elements I like and don’t like. Analyzing these techniques has also made me think about what tactics are effective in storytelling.

Well, that’s all folks. I’ll catch you on the flipside.

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