Those of us who produce public radio often pride ourselves in our ability to notice the sounds that surround us. Our headphones and microphones aren’t just equipment or accessories, they are essentially functional limbs, like external organs or ear extenders. Even as I sit here writing this blog post, I am all-too-aware of the sounds of birds chirping, cars and trains passing, dogs barking, lawnmowers, construction work, and airplanes overhead. Sometimes sensitivity to sound is more burden than gift.
But, using audio to help illustrate and tell a story is one beautiful thing that separates public radio news from spot-news-driven commercial radio. As producers and listeners we feel awe when someone comes along and uses sound in a new and engaging way, transporting us to other times or places, real or imaginary.
Sounds Elemental is a series of AIR-sponsored intensives where producers can deepen their sense of hearing and explore creative ways to capture and craft with sound. It’s a basically a bootcamp for the ears.
In this month’s edition of AIRBlast, Miami-based journalist Alicia Zuckerman shares her experience attending the recent Sounds Elemental: Earth workshop in New York City. In her personal essay, A Producer Enters the Sound Bubble and Returns Again, Zuckerman writes,
“Just a couple of hours into the first day of the workshop, our expectations of what sound should convey were being stripped away. Part of the beauty of that week in the sound bubble is that we were training our brains to think differently about sound, to hear it on its own terms and for now, not to worry about meaning.”
Zuckerman co-produces the hyperlocal series for WLRN called Under The Sun. In the AIRBlast article, she explains how her time at Sounds Elemental has already had a a positive impact on her work.
What does Sounds Elemental Sound Like?
It can be difficult to explain with words…but you can experience the abridged version of Sounds Elemental in this mix, produced by workshop leader Brenda Hutchinson:
Another session of Sounds Elemental is happening this November, again with Harvestworks in New York City. This time, the theme is “Sky.” If you would like to participate, move quickly since there are only 10 slots and the deadline to apply is September 30, 2010. All the details are here.