So I decided to make my final project creepy so I did Spooky Sounds which is similar to the Sound Effects Story I did before, but this one is specifically spooky! Only thing I really did differently this time was I remembered how to actually do this assignment, I made it over a minute long, and I made this one go with the story: the sounds match the story itself instead of just random creepy noises.
Sounds Effects – “This is a short and simple assignment. Most everyone uses freesound for various audio assignments, but sometimes, you cannot find quite what you are looking for. This assignment is to upload your own sound or sound effect to freesound, preferably something which is lacking.”
The very first thing to do is go on freesound and try to be creative about which sound effect hasn’t been made
Tell your sister to do a bunch of weird noises and stuff for your recording so she will just moan and groan and whine for your recording
Then you just upload the recording and fill out the following info
Then head over to the aforementioned freesound to upload your new sound there
“Add file”, “upload”, and then “describe sound” in order for it to actually show up
DONE! Your new sound effect is now on SoundCloud and freesound for the world to hear
So I decided to try a creative out-of-the-box kind of audio assignment and decided on the sounds effects. I originally wanted my sister to make some weird noises, animal impressions, sing, whatever she wanted so I could record it and make some story about her interesting noise. Instead this is what I get: whining. Plain old preteen angst-y moaning and groaning. Thanks Loren. This is the story about every cliche angst-y preteen ever shown in a movie.
“She’s sitting in the backseat of a minivan, headphones in and rock music blaring. She goes a little too heavy on the eyeliner to look rebellious, even though it’s just that she hasn’t perfected a technique yet. She’s scowling at something, or maybe everything, outside the window. A band tee and ripped jeans is her style today. Her parents speak to her but she either doesn’t care or can’t hear anything over her music. The older sister rolls her eyes at her younger sister, while secretly acknowledging that they’re extremely similar. So here they all are on a “super fun” road trip. The entire 3 hour car ride the youngest sister doesn’t even open her mouth or remove her gaze from whatever is so fascinating about the millions of trees they pass. Suddenly the iPod she was listening to dies and the first words are spoken from this angst-y preteen that leaves her family shocked: “uuuuuuuuugggghhhh”. That’s it?”
Sound Effects Story – “Tell a story using nothing but sound effects. There can be no verbal communication, only sound effects. Use at least five different sounds that you find online. The story can be no longer than 90 seconds.”
First I had to decide on what story I wanted to tell (relate-able, funny, dramatic, scary?)
I decided on scary so I went to freesound.org and typed in “scary” into the search bar to get some ideas
I found seven different sounds I wanted to use and therefore had to download (big yellow rectangle) each sound
I not only had to download each sound but had to save it to a file I knew I can find later to open in Audacity
I opened all seven sound effects in Audacity and listened to them so I could figure out which pieces I wanted to use and in what order
I opened up the sound I wanted first and kept the knocking while cutting the other sounds after it
Then I went to the next sound, went to “edit” to copy and paste this sound after the first one, repeating this until each sound effect was used and in the order I wanted
Then I was done but instead of just saving, I had to export it to somewhere I could find later and upload to SoundCloud
So to start off with: this was hard! Looking back it wasn’t hard as in 5 star difficulty, just hard to figure everything out in Audacity. I’m not sure how many times I yelled out, “WHY? WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?” In the end I felt great creating a story through a new media. I never would have even found Audacity if not for this class. Some things I had to figure out included how to copy and paste a sound, how to cut parts of a sound out I didn’t want and add a sound onto the first one, and exporting the audacity file to something I can use to upload to SoundCloud. Oh and this was my first upload on SoundCloud so that’s pretty cool!
As soon as I saw this assignment I knew I wanted to do a horror audio. This idea probably came to me because I had just listened to Ghost Stories by Radiolab the day before which included a plethora of haunting sound effects. What inspiration! So now I should probably tell you the story I was imaging for my audio clip. Looking back I could have added some more sound in, but what I imagined in my mind was more of an outline, so forgive me for my improv storytelling. Some of you may be horror movie buffs like me, but if not, you can probably hear all the cliches I mashed into just a few measly seconds. Here goes:
“I was quietly sitting in my room on a foggy night, knitting, when I abruptly heard a few knocks at the door. Being an older lady, I have found myself feeling quite impulsive and trusting. (I’ll die when my time comes). I peered at the clock to notice that it was almost midnight. I shrugged to myself thinking it was just the neighbor boy coming over to ask for some sugar for his cookies again. So I slowly made my way over to the door to take a quick glance through the peephole. Nothing. Total blackness. A complete and utter void. However, I recalled that the neighbor boy was rather short so I slowly creaked open the door to see a rather tall and menacing dark figure in a black robe. He slowly pointed at me and my knees shook. I tried to back away, run, anything, but all I could do was scream for my life. Or what was left of it. Because he quickly stabbed me with his scythe and I dropped to the floor with a thud. He then gathered me into his arms and we disappeared. All that was left was my empty apartment. Looking back I’m not sure why I screamed, for as scary as he seemed, he was just there to do his job. His career may be a gruesome one, but no one ever said Death liked his job. Did anyone even ask him? Does anyone ever say anything to him, other than just screaming and begging for their lives? No, looking back I am not sure why I screamed. I thought I was ready to go. ‘I’ll die when my time comes,’ I always say, so why is it that the very last breath I took was to scream? I guess in the end, we all fight to live.”
So I have loved ghost stories since I can remember, although my faith in ghosts themselves have wavered over the years. I decided to listen to Ghost Stories (surprise) and found the back and forth commentary to be very similar to the Radiolab “Detective Stories”. “What happens after you die?” what an opener! This draws in the listeners immediately. How the heck they can go back and forth so fast without hesitation seems like magic to me. In addition, the way Mary Roach’s voice has an echo-y sound effect was cool when she was pretending to be a dead person. Some spooky Ghost Whisperer effects right there. The “gas” turning on was interesting too because it was one of the only hesitations she made, almost to let the listeners hear the “gas” turn on and be able to imagine yourself right there when this is happening. Then there were typewriter clicks as she said New York Times. This is brilliant stuff people. Oh and nothing is worse than “waiting and listening” to a radio silence and just waiting for something creepy than jumping out of your seat over Roach saying the word “but”! I also like the depressing songs between the breaks. Way to keep the mood going.
And again, throughout the whole story there is a back and forth between host and guest or host and a recording that is almost amusing to listen to even if that isn’t the purpose (which is probably just to shove a bunch of interesting info into an hour). I also like how the producers make a bold and weird statement for each story and then they gradually explain how this statement is truth but isn’t as weird as we think. For example: the face of a dead woman for the CPR doll. It isn’t a literal statement (the face is not a corpse) but it is true, the face is structured after a dead woman. Then you can almost feel yourself walking up these “rickety wooden stairs” that are being described as you’re listening to the sound effects of it. Then the sound effects of not only water but the sound of a piano that is almost from a cartoon to help you imagine this woman falling into the river. It is incredible what some imagery and sound can do for a listener.
The third story actually made me cringe with anxiety. A man that sees a face bobbing outside his window? And knocking on his door? Plus the A Haunting sound effects? Creepy. Then I figured out it was a dream and a part of me was relieved and another part was disappointed. I wanted it to be real. How weird.
So I could go on and on about each story but I feel like I am just repeating myself over and over. So here’s a summary: the hosts like their dialogue to be a back and forth dialogue and they like to use sound effects to draw listeners in. Boom! a whole hour worth of producer techniques in one sentence. Another thing, I feel like this audio story is best as that: audio. This is because I don’t think it would have been as creepy on TV because you wouldn’t have the mystery or the suspense or sound effects such as staring as a computer screen and just waiting for something to happen while listening to creepy sound effects. Sure a TV has jump scares, but so can an audio. That’s all a jump scare is anyways: loud music. Then there is the fact that a TV would force an image upon you versus whatever creepy image you can muster from the depths of your mind. Creepy.
So for This American Life I chose to listen to “Getting Away With It” simply because I had no clue what they were all about so I chose the one that sounded the most psychological. So at first it almost sounds like Ira and the man are on a plane with the loud/noisy background sound. Then I figure out they are (or at least Ira wants it to seem this way). Also it sounds like a guy is telling a story and Ira is like a narrator AND an interviewer. At first this threw me off because I was hearing the same voice twice but one was giving background while the other was conversational. This ended up being very confusing haha.
The second story was interesting because at first it starts out sounding sunny and happy then turns into this suspenseful, mysterious music when it came to the fortune-teller lady who did some ritual on whether or not the checkpoint will be open. The sound at the open checkpoint was interesting because it almost sounds like time ticking away (more suspense), I like that the jovial music plays when they are just riding in the car. Then a low background music plays that makes me feel anxious which must be what the producer planned because now there is some serious trouble with the dad heading right to the checkpoint with drugs! This is also interesting because rationally I should be excited, “Yaaay the evil-doers getting caught”. But being caught in the story made me feel a similar fear/anxiety as the narrator. I also really liked how this one narrator was able to portray and speak/think for his parents and the checkpoint guards. I enjoyed how the low, lazy music almost sounded like the sun going down, like it was supposed to tell you it was becoming night time before he even spoke.I was just overall sucked into this story about how this kid got dragged into his parents “career” and the effects on him as a bystander.
The last story was honestly super boring to me compared to the first two because it felt very broken up with Ira’s narration AND the many different interviews AND just the fact it was mostly politics. It is also hard to keep track of who is who and matching the voices to the character (I have never had to learn to deal with this until listening to an audio story!). I did like that he did the background before the story because all he had to do was reference it and I knew exactly what Ira was talking about versus taking out 15 minutes to explain it within the story. I personally thought it was funny that Ira did the whole spiel (in Part one of our assignments) about how you need to forget high school English stories with the topic sentence and then evidence BUT Ira basically set up his last Act in this exact way. He would give background and a statement then have the other characters fill in the blanks and offer more information to explain his statement. For as much as I hate politics I really like the way the legislator (?) for Oklahoma sold his bill. He pointed out what the people wanted to hear and then used logic and numbers to basically say, “You want this bill to pass because this will save us so much money in the long run and it’s good for society.”
This first audio story was pretty hard to reflect on because I was bouncing back and forth between reflecting on the story itself and then the techniques Ira used to make this.
So first I listened to Ira Glass’ series and now I just really want to be his friend. I listened to all four parts but I think part one and four were the most educational for me. What I really got out of this, to summarize: be yourself, don’t give up, and practice. Glass basically wants his viewers to have a personality. Don’t try to be like the people on television or the people you hear on the radio. Be yourself because there is only one you, everyone else is already taken. Also, the process will take awhile because we have these expectations of what we want to be but we won’t start out perfect. This ties into the fact we have to practice. If we try a few times, suck at it, and decide to quit then we will never be where we want to be. But if we practice at storytelling every week then we can get there. He even showed us an embarrassing audio story of his own from when he was really far into practicing and how he differs now because he kept working on it.
There were also a few pointers I noted while listening. I noted the few things a story needs: to have an anecdote (sequence of events), raise questions, and reflect on why the story is important. If there is no sequence it won’t draw listeners in. If you don’t raise questions then is it really a story or just listing off facts? If there is no reflection then the whole piece means absolutely nothing. I also noted his two errors: (first of which I already mentioned) one is that people try to mimic the TV/radio, and two, there is only one character (usually themselves). I already explained the first error but the second one was actually more interesting to me so I will explain. If someone is telling a story that is completely about one character then how entertaining will it actually be? If there are no supporting characters then there is no conflict or friends or interactions in general. I never even thought about this! Pretty much everything I have ever read or watched has at least two characters.
Side note: his “boring” story was actually pretty suspenseful just based on how theatrical/low his voice was alone with his hesitation between sequences. I want to know more! What happens next?
What I will look for differently now will definitely be how other people talk or act in their own stories simply because I have never thought about mimicking them until I watched these videos. I would also never have a reason to without this class! So of course now I will be paying close attention to how other people talk or act in real life or on TV. I will also try to implement in my own work the persistence he mentioned, as well as trying to be myself. I’m sure as soon as I start recording myself one day I will start acting like a confused robot because I will have some kind of stage fright. I will try to just relax and be me. I will also try to remember to raise questions in my stories and to reflect. Although, I am still confused on how the reflection works in a story because to me it seems like a conclusion but he mentioned to forget high school story set-ups.
Next I listened to the short interview with Jad Abumrad. He basically put into words why I always like the book better than the movie. Audio stories are cool because they’re like someone reading you a book so there’s minimum effort like watching TV BUT you get to create your own images versus the TV that forces them onto you. I also thought it was cool how he explains how empathy works with the radio and the listener: there is a co-authorship that basically one is creating the story and the other is making the images. There’s some mutual understanding here that a non-listener would never have.
I think this has implicated me in a way of how I will feel when listening to the radio on a long drive. Having someone speak to me and it sounds personal for such a long amount of time, I will probably feel like I just made a friend! I think this connection that both speakers kind of mentioned will be something I look forward to finding when I turn on the radio (or for future assignments). I also think that Abumrad has influenced the way I will read or listen more than ever: I will not only make my own image but will feel a connection to the author. I have probably felt this before but now I will be searching and attempting to reproduce myself.