Workshop > Bring it Together
Oct 13

Bring it Together

Telling an Audio Story

For this XP, we'll leave the decision-making to you!

The final product you create is going to be a multi-track audio story--but the content, style, and format are all up to you.

 
Different Types of Audio Story

Think of all the different types of podcast you've heard of--news stories, dramas, tech tips, comedies, horror.

Your story might be driven by singing, or a piece of music. Perhaps it revolves around an interview, or a monologue. Is it a performance poem, a soundscape, or a voice-over for a favorite piece of writing? It's up to you!
 
NPR has a very distinctive style, but it may be completely wrong for your type of story.

The Welcome to Nightvale podcast made quite a splash when it debuted. The style is more complex, but might give you some great ideas.

And one of the most famous storytelling podcasts, The Moth, offers many different, simple takes on audio storytelling.


Before you start recording make sure your story is fully developed. Write up an outline, or a storyboard. This may be adapted from a piece of writing or audio you've already created, but you'll have to add some other details too.

Include notes about what primary and secondary tracks you'll need at each point, so you know what sounds you'll need to gather.

Your primary track is often the voice of a narrator, but you may want to tell your story through sound effects or music. Go for it!


Sound Effects and Tracks

Now that you have a story planned out, lets think about what each of your audio tracks will sound like. You may want background noise, music, voices, or specific sound effects.

Grab some ambient sound, and then start recording or finding your other tracks.

Do you need sound effects? Try freesound.org or creativecommons.org for free audio clips, available for use!

Or, see if you can create the sounds you need yourself!



Get creative with it--like they did back in the day! (Stick around for the amazing impression at the 4:45 mark.)



Fortunately for us, we don't have to do all the effects live. We can record them individually and layer them in as separate tracks later.

You can use the built-in microphone on your computer or cell-phone to record your different audio tracks. A handheld audio recorder is also a great investment if you want to continue on with audio media-making!

If you record on your phone, on the go, you can email the files to yourself, from your phone. That will make it easy to download them to your computer, and open them in Audacity (or your preferred audio editing software).


Practice layering your tracks, and adjusting where they appear on the timeline.

Remember, tracks that layer over each other will both play at once. If you want to insert something in between sounds on a track, you'll have to paste your audio onto an existing track, or split the existing track and move the two pieces apart.

Experiment with the different effects to get a smoother sound--fading and amplifying is just the beginning!


When you're finished with your audio story, save the project, export an .mp3 or .wav version, and upload it here!

Feel free to add a note of explanation--how you chose your piece, how you created your sound effects, any problems you ran into. We'll be able to relate, I'm sure!