Bringing the Ghost to Life

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As I mentioned in a recent post, I recently listened to my first episode of This American Life – specifically, the story of a little 4-year-old boy who went missing in a Louisiana swamp in 1912 named Bobby Dunbar.

As instructed by my professors in my super-awesome online class, ds106, I listened to the story with a particular interest in the sound techniques used to help build the story.

The story, presented by master storyteller Ira Glass, was given immediate depth, a feeling of importance, and a sense of history when – immediately following Ira’s introduction, an old, shotty recording of a song about the boy began to play.  It struck me as a smart and effective attention-catching technique.  After playing alone for a moment, long enough to establish the song was solely about the lost boy, the music faded into the background as Ira’s voice began to take over and continue the introduction of the story.

After this, Ira appeared to use small clips from quite a few different interviews with different people.  The different voices, male and female, different dialects and accents, and obviously different ages, all were effective in maintaining the attention of the listener as there was a struggle to try to understand who each of these voices were and what their role and interest was in the story.

This mix of voices and interviews, mixed in with the off-and-on use of music from the era of different tones to fit the story at that moment, represents the largest set of audio techniques employed in the telling of this story.

Simple? Sure.  Effective?

I dare you to listen to the first minute only of this story, and see for yourself if you can get yourself to turn it off before you get to the end. :)

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