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A Voice For The Ear

09 Apr

Recently I listened to the podcast Invisibilia’s episode “True You” after reading text from Jessica Abel’s Out On The Wire I thought it should be prudent to understand the podcast on the book’s terms.

Out On The Wire explains how important sound is to the creation of a podcast. Adding noise behind or after voices allow for a more dynamic, interactive experience, wildly different from the typical talking mctalkers of traditional radio. From establishing mood, characterization, or transition from scene to scene, the sfx to a podcast is quite important. However, it is all too easy for it to become a weakness on its part. Too much or too little creates a hockey experience.

For example, in one scene in “True You” a woman learns of an inner self that manifests in her dreams that is an escape from her trauma. The story is meditative and honestly quite calming. The tale is about confronting our past to look forward to hope to the future. The whole thing reeks of a kind of wistful joy. Great stuff all around. Unfortunately, that whole slew of emotions came from the transcript, rather than any affection from the podcast itself.

You see, the storytelling of this moving story is interrupted every few moments by a myriad of sound effects. From waves to music to childish giggles, the podcast is marred by a bombardment of noise. Noise that takes me out of the story, that annoys, and drags down the podcast for me. I understand why it is used, I really do. The methods that Abel speaks of are really quite admirable and have a great deal of thought put behind them. Yet, it seems to me that it just doesn’t work out for me.

What has this taught me? Well, it did teach me how I prefer my podcasts (silent and without interruptions), but also to approach my own podcasts if I go down a similar route. The idea is great, but needs substantial work. Not that I presume that I could do better, just that I wish to avoid some of the mistakes made already. Keep the noise subtle, not as frequent, lacking in a punch that overtakes the narrative, and generally unobtrusive. Subtly is a virtue after all.

 
 

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