Listening to Stories

At this point in the course, ds106 gets us to start listening to stories, and think about the effects sound has on a story. I listened to ‘This American Life, Episode 504: How I got into College’. I used a simple technique of listening to the audio and stopping and starting it as I found interesting points to jot down in my notepad. I found this to be a useful technique that worked best for me instead of switching between screens on the computer.

So to begin with, This American Life introduces the show with just voice audio but music soon begins to play as a music bed but can only be heard very faintly, probably so the audience can very clearly hear the presenters. Being the beginning of the show, it seems that they try to keep any other sounds quiet for the time being. They also use a mixture of vox pops at the beginning of their show. They share a mixture of responses from different people which also sounds very natural. A lot of background noise can be heard but this just sets the scene which I don’t believe is necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it’s good to have a natural sounding vox pop so the audience can identify that these are real people with real responses, not set up. They also then use music which is a lot clearer than the introduction piece. This gives the show a nice beat and it also breaks up the speech. This gives the audience a break from solid speech which will keep them interested instead of becoming bored of just words being spoken at them.

There appears to be a lot of questions or introductions from the main presenters which follows by pre-recorded or live interviews/vox pops of guests. This gives the story a realistic feel to it. There is a lot of plain simple audio with no music bed beneath these sections, which allows the audience to focus on that speech. Maybe this indicates that this is important speech that should be focused on by the listener.

When they move away from guest speakers, and start to tell the main story of the program, light soft music starts which is almost to identify this. That we are moving into the story. I have noticed that when music begins, it’s probably done so that it keeps the audiences focus when a story is being told for a while where listeners may end up losing concentration. They choose music that fits in with what is actually happening within the speech. They begin to talk about refugees in Croatia when the characters hitched a ride with some women. Here, they use a spanish style of music to go with the scene. This sets the scene for the audience which is a very good tactic to both keep attention and also help to build the story they are telling.

it is obvious that the show likes to use different kinds of music to keep the story going and to set the scene for the audience.

The episode itself ends with some instrumental music and then a song, just as a standard radio show would end a section of the show with a song from the charts.

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