Yes, storytellers, we have class today.
We will listen to your finished sonic IDs. The deadline was Sunday night. The deadline for your updated bios is today. And the deadline for the final story in Tuesday, May 2.
We will not have class on Thursday, April 27. Work on your final projects. Our Tuesday, May 2 class is another listening party.
But I will be available during class time for meetings, consultations, performance art, improvised poetry, singing telegrams, love notes and chocolate.
This is one radio storyteller’s point of view:
In Between Words Storytellers:
Your grade comes from:
- your personal essay podcast piece
- your sonic ID
- your bio
- your final piece
Personal Piece: Everyone has completed the personal essay piece. If you choose to remix, rewrite or redo that piece, you are free to do so. Whatever grade your redo earns will replace your original grade. In addition to redoing the piece, you must submit to me an outline of what you have changed and why.
Sonic ID: The deadline to present the sound for this piece was two weeks ago. Through listening to all the captured sound, some of you expressed dissatisfaction with the sound/interview you collected. Find a new subject, do another interview, but it is up to you to find that short piece of tape that says YES when you hear it and YES when we listen.
Take your sonic ID and fully produce it. What does that mean? Perhaps you will choose music beneath it and some built in music pauses like Iuliia did. Or maybe you insert a sentence or two of narration as Aliaksandra did identifying her subject. Producing the sonic ID in the way you think best serves the tape, the small story you are telling about someone. You must have the name of the subject in the produced piece. In Iuliia’s piece the subject says her name at the end. In Aliaksandra’s the narrator tells us the name of the subject. Here is the link again to the sonic IDs you listened to at the start of the semester: http://transom.org/2013/sonic-ids/. These are fragments of life of the people here at AUBG. Deadline: Sunday, April 23, 21.00. Label: sonicID in your folders. These should not be longer than about :60 seconds.
Bio: It’s all about the writing and the attitude. Let more of yourself come through than most of you did in your first bio. The only thing that must show up at some point in your bio are these words: My name is XX, and I am a storyteller for In Between Words. You can insert it anywhere in your text. Keep these to no more than :45 seconds. Practice word economy. Deadline: Tuesday, May 2, by the start of class.
Final piece: Your choice (with approval from me, your editor). Keeping it small and simple is best. Do something more focused, more narrow. That is what works best in sonic storytelling.
But Professor Kelly, how should I put it together?
There are lots of different ways to present your sound. (An act is short for actuality or a piece of tape with someone talking.)
Teases and back ID. Take a long act, run the first coherent, complete sentence or thought, break in and ID the speaker (briefly), then let the act finish.
Butt cuts. Put acts from two different people back to back. Butt cuts are great when you’ve got two opposing views and the second element directly addresses the first, as in, “That’s total bullshit and this is why!” Avoid using two men or women who sound the same. It works best if the two speakers are different genders.
Vary lengths of acts and tracks. You don’t want Acts 1 through 5 each being 15 seconds, with intervening tracks at 25 seconds each. Your story will sound like it was generated by a radio robot.
Montages. That’s when you get three or four acts, each from different people, and run them together without intervening copy. Requires some inventiveness in identifying them. It’s a great way to demonstrate similarities or differences of thought among groups.
Use ambient sound to set a scene. Scene-setting sound ideally should require no explanation. If a listener isn’t going to realize immediately what the sound represents, you’ll have to help with copy.
Let the sound come in first; then refer to it. As in: “It was an hour’s walk to the beach (bring up sound of walruses) over sole-burning sand and lava rock. When we got there, we found we weren’t to be alone: 200 walruses were in full mating frenzy.” The idea is, you introduce the sound, eliciting curiosity from the listener—“What’s that?” — then, quickly, you identify the sound. This brief guessing game keeps the listener’s attention.
Use ambient sound to shift from one scene to another. Standard examples (and often “radio clichés”) are footsteps, car doors opening/closing, doors opening, keys unlocking doors, walking up or down steps. Be inventive since most of the above have been overused; but it’s great to have that stuff on hand, even a few seconds.
Write to tape. That may sound good, but mean little without an explanation. So here goes: You may start out with an idea of what the story is. But when you get back with all your tape, all you’ve really got is WHAT’S ON THE TAPE. That may be something quite different from what you planned. Go with it—or go back and get more tape, if you don’t believe the people you’ve interviewed.
When you’ve finally got good tape, let the tape direct you…don’t try to use the tape to justify your written story. Choose the tape that 1) tells the story that needs to be told 2) is clear 3) is compelling and evocative. Often, tape that conveys emotion is stronger than tape that’s simply explanatory.
Plan because everyone will want the Zooms at the same time. Now that we have good equipment, helpful producers and this much experience listening to sound, your sound quality will count more in the evaluation of this piece. Include your outro: For In Between Words, I am XX. Deadline: Tuesday, May 2, by the start of class. Label: finalpiece. You must also have a script in your folder to go with the piece. Label: final piece script. No exceptions. Everyone must be ready to present.
This is a moving, candid, brave radio documentary about being a war correspondent. I highly recommend it for anyone willing to weigh the dilemmas and the personal costs of reporting on a war from the front lines.
This piece, Santaland Diaries, is what drew me to sonic storytelling. It is a classic.