'Point-of-listening in radio plays' - Beck, Alan, 1998, Sound Journal, (Now available on this Alan Beck site. Sound Journal has been deleted from its original site.) A few additions have been made.


To think of programmes as texts and audiences as readers is to mistake the communicative character of much of the output of radio and television. In particular it fails to recognize the liveness of radio and television, their embeddedness in the here and now (their particularity) and the cardinal importance of context and audiences.
(Scannell 1991 p.11) 3

It is clear from the way most North American english speakers (myself included) use language about our epistemological condition that our sense of truth, our preferred configuration of knowledge, is modeled upon the eye, its abilities, and the kind of information it brings to us. This is the visual bias of the dominant collective (social and cultural) epistemologies.
(Wreford Miller 1995 chapter 3 Domination, 3a 'the visual bias')

Partly by a process of 'transcodification' - the replacement of one code or set of codes, in this case visual ones, by another, in this case auditory, the code of speech.
(Crisell 1986 p.138)

The stage of radio is darkness and silence, the darkness of the listener's skull. On it the dramatist can bring anyone or anything without the trouble and expense of a scenic artist. .... The process of building it is simple; the words are spoken, and we become designers, producers, scene shifters, and the theatre itself.
(Lewis 1981 p.49)

An effectively designed audio work may facilitate a listener's integration of life-based experiences into a 'movie' created within the 'theater of the mind'. Each individual becomes his or her own movie director with no two people having the same imaginary experience.
(Ferrington 1993 in the section 'Theater of the mind')

 

Spatially, scenic (visualised) action may be set off against off-scenic action, an umbrella term for off-stage (theatre), off-screen (TV and film) and off-air (radio) events.
(Tornqvist 1993 p.3)

1. F/X. STRAIGHT CUT INTO LIVINGROOM. DOG BARKING.
FAMILY SHOUTING.

 

2. WOMAN Get that dog away from me!

1. WOMAN I'm terrified of that dog!

2. F/X WITH SPOT BARKING. DOG HURLS ITSELF AGAINST LIVINGROOM
DOOR.

 

3. WOMAN No! No! He'll get me!

(They all sit deep in thought; the silence is only broken by the subdued muttering of FEERS. Suddenly a distant sound is heard, coming as if out of the sky, like the sound of a string snapping, slowly and sadly dying away.)
(Fen 1959 p.365)

Now, by comparison, let us examine the notion of a point of audition. This too can have two meanings, not necessarily related:
1. A spatial sense: from where do I hear, from what point in the space represented on the screen or on the soundtrack?
2. A subjective sense: which character, at a given moment of the story, is (apparently) hearing what I hear?
(Chion 1994 p.90)

I suppose my listening conditions were ideal. I was laid up, had spoken to nobody all day, and shut out the waning light of the November afternoon to listen in the dark to a play which I knew almost off by heart.

2. A subjective sense: which character, at a given moment of the story, is (apparently) hearing what I hear?

HENRY'S FATHER: (thoughts) Do not gamble! Do not lend money to anyone! And finally,
do not have anything to do with women!

FIRST VOICE Time passes. Listen. Time passes.
Come closer now.
Only you can hear the houses sleeping in the streets in the slow
deep salt and silent black, bandaged night.
Only you can see, in the blinded bedrooms, the coms. 9

1. SPOT (FOOTSTEPS OF THREE TRUDGING UP STEEP GARDEN STEPS)

2. DIDI (crying) Give me back my Baby-baby!

3. NANNY (climbing in front) You'll have it back when you get to the top.

4. DIDI Bad Nanny! Bad, bad Nanny!

5. NANNY Finally caught up, have you?

'There is no point in making any move unless you are speaking too. It's a rule actors new to radio must get into their minds because they mistake in following their stage actor's instinct, - they make a move before speaking. Sometimes the script doesn't offer this opportunity and as director you need to give the actor a special line, so he can '"travel on the line". As long as we know that he has moved into the room with the equivalent of a "Hi everybody!" line, we, the listeners, know he's arriving.'

The essential feature of sound is not its location, but that it fills space ... This auditory space is three-dimensional and surrounds the listener.
(Ferrington 1994 in the section 'Aural Information')

The sound one perceives is shaped by the environment within which the sound is generated.
(Ferrington 1994 in the section 'Sound Sequences')

The challenge of creating acoustical space in an audio work is difficult ... The director may use selective focus ... Selective focus begins with prioritizing the sounds to which the listener's attention must be given.
(Ferrington 1993 in the section 'The elements of audio design')

 

 

 

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