There have been two moments when listening to podcasts where I had to stop for a moment and marvel at what I was listening to. The first was This American Life's "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory," which actually got me wanting to tell stories on stage in the first place. Mike Daisey is a masterful writer and storyteller. The second was "The Sound of Sports," brought to me via 99 Percent Invisible. This BBC production uses amazing, AMAZING bits of sound taken from various sports -- mics taped to a gymnastics balance beam, or placed on the ground of an archery range, or with to coxswain on a skull. Both of these pieces are, to use Daisey's words, "a kind of magic."
Now, at 2AM on a Friday night/Saturday morning, I can add "Jump Blue," produced by BBC 3's Between the Ears, to that list. It approaches the sport of free diving by having an actress narrate for Natalia Molchanova, a record-breaking Russian free diver who was lost during a dive in Spain. For a long stretch, the narrator describes the sensations during a 101 meter dive, followed by a narration of her final, lost dive. The performance and the accompanying musicscape made for a meditative experience. I literally was there with her during that dive.
Incidentally, I'm not the only person affected by this. I learned of it via Rob Rosenthal's amazing HowSound podcast. His episode on "Jump Blue" can be found here.
I've been struggling getting the latest two episodes of Random Waves out of the hopper, and I was hoping that a sleepless night would at least get one closer to being done. But then I heard "Jump Blue."
With these first episodes of my podcast, I've gravitated away from something akin to Everything is Stories (non-narrated immersion into a story) towards something akin to NPR's Morning Edition (straight-up reporting of events). It is certainly easier to do straight-up reporting. No music to create or find. No creation of complex soundscape. In and out in five minutes flat (or so).
But it's not art. There's no immersive experience. There's no meditative moment, or as Rob Rosenthal calls it, transportative moment (where you're transported to the scene, as with me and the free dive). And, as I've stated in a previous blog post, I want art, not money.
I'll finish up these next two episodes as per my original idea. But the following episodes... I'll have to figure out how to make a more immersive, meditative soundscapes for them. I think I'll need to experiment much, much more.
There's a podcast that HowSound tuned me into a while back -- I forget the name of it. It was another European producer ("Jump Blue" is by Spaniard Nicolas Jackson), and it was all about sound. It featured in one episode the producer sitting in a snowbank on a cold night and simply listening. I unwittingly tried something similar during a long trip to Columbus, Georgia last summer, when I recorded some cicadas in the trees at my hotel's parking lot. The audio was a bit crap, but maybe I should continue doing stuff like that -- keeping my field recorder with me and simply recording what moves me. Learn how to record more amazing sound.
Perhaps this is a change for Random Waves.