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Mumford & Sons

Link: http://www.npr.org/2012/09/23/161558080/mumford-sons-finding-balance-in-babel?sc=fb&cc=fp While I normally frequent the news and science sections of NPR, I decided to browse through the arts section. There I discovered this piece about the British band Mumford & Sons. This story is interesting because it alludes to a few scenes in the piece and for the story of its central character, the band’s lead singer. The story starts by recreating some of the band Mumford & Sons “road-testing”, playing just-written songs on the road by playing new music. This creates a scene through music that reminds the listener of a concert. This technique is particularly suitable for a band profile, which this piece is. It is used to introduce new music, which is what the band does on the road according to the story. This piece also uses characterization well. The piece starts by characterizing Mumford & Sons. Lead singer Marcus Mumford starts by explaining what the band is not. It is not a bluegrass band because it “is not American” nor is it an Irish band because they are British.  Mumford does admit he likes the interviewer’s description of the band as a quartet, an accurate description because the band has four members. The band is a character in and of itself because the band is its own separate entity from the musicians. Individually, they are four musically inclined persons; together they form the band Mumford & Sons. This is an interesting characterization because the characters in a story or article are usually the people involved. Here the band is a character too because it is the focus of the story, a very complex one because its character is built from other characters in the piece, the musicians. Mumford is one of two band members interviewed in the piece, so it goes into his background in some depth. The interviewer refers to him as a “preacher’s kid”, a label that alludes to the biblical reference in the song/album title “Babel”. Mumford is also a songwriter, so much of his quotes are about the process of bringing a song from words to the album. It casts him as an important character within the band, one of the people heavily involved in creating new songs. Characterization is important to this piece because it is a profile, a story about characters. Good journalism is full of these characters because it adds dimensions to the story. After all what is storytelling without...
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Antietam Changed Nature of Civil War 150 Years Ago...

For my listening assignment, I chose a story from “All Things Considered” on Sept. 17 called “Antietam Changed Nature of Civil War 150 Years Ago.” The story remembers the 150th anniversary of the battle, its players and the aftermath. Tom Bowman reported the piece and he went to Sharpsburg, the site of the battle, to record his segment. Instead of running down stock gunfire and the sounds of the battlefield, Bowman starts his piece by walking through a cornfield. He gives the sound time to unfold; you can hear the stocks leaning against one another and twigs snapping underneath his feet. When Bowman gets around to his first interview, crickets can be heard in the background. He is clearly in the country, far removed from the commotion of Washington, D.C. The rest of the 4-minute piece is pretty straight forward. There are interviews over the phone and breakdowns of causalities. The setup is the most memorable part of the piece. The quiet evening and familiar country sounds are hard reconcile with the bloody battle that happened so many years ago....
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Satanic Verses Sound

http://www.npr.org/2012/09/18/161172489/becoming-anton-or-how-rushdie-survived-a-fatwa Salman Rushdie gained fame and infamy for his 1988 novel, The Satanic Verses. The NPR story about his latest book Joseph Anton is told in the form of an interview. The story alternates between the interviewer and Rushdie, the latter’s voice making up the bulk of the sound clips.   Beyond voice, there is little sound otherwise. Silence, a lack of sound, is used here too. This minimalism in the sound creates an effect. Rushdie is speaking about his life in hiding. The lack of sound seems to magnify his voice. This is a good use of sound because it is used sparingly, allowing the listener to focus on the...
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What a Slinky Knows

I chose to listen to a segment from NPR’s RadioLab. I spent the first five minutes of the podcast trying to figure out if the RadioLab host was named Chad or Jad. I may have missed some sound utilization during this time of confusion. Around minute five I remembered that Google exists. His name is Jad. He went to Oberlin College, married his college sweetheart, and has two kids. The segment I listened to featured a math professor from Cornell University, Steve Strogatz, as a guest, as well as physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. They were discussing the fact that when you drop a slinky from a height, it appears that the bottom of the slinky doesn’t move right away. The segment used a lot of cool sounds; as they talked about the “levitating” properties of a slinky, you could hear them dropping a slinky in the studio. They also dropped a pen to illustrate the same phenomenon. At the end of the segment, they played an upbeat song that included a slinky as an instrument – a Slinky Concerto, if you will. It may have been called Slinky Concerto No. 5 but I’m not 100% sure because I just made that up. I thought the sound use in this segment was great because it made the segment feel really interactive, which I think is important for a segment focused on science – it draws listeners in who might otherwise have tuned out. You can listen to it...
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NPR: Mets’ Pitcher Makes ‘Knuckleball!’ His Own...

I’m not a huge baseball fan, but caught myself listening to this piece and absolutely drawn in with the intro, which the host mentions is an excerpt, but sound more like a montage from, a new documentary called “Knuckleball”. Especially for someone who doesn’t care about baseball, the sounds and comments take me to a field, and peaked my interest about something i wouldn’t normally listen to. I think if the interview would have started right away, i would have tuned out. But because i was “brought” to the field it kept me engaged and listening. Here’s the link. I chose a movie intro because i’ve always liked the affect this has on radio stories, it’s something about mixing the mediums that seems to always peak my...
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All Things Considered Hazing Article

A recent story in NPR’s “All Things Considered” focused on the suspension of a university’s marching band because one of its members was killed in a hazing incident. The article, “FAMU Adjusts to Games Without Marching Band” managed to capture a scene and sound very well. FAMU’s drummer was killed in a hazing accident last November and the town seems to be blaming everyone. They are holding a meeting tomorrow, which they claim is “mandatory” and classes have even been canceled. The article capture’s thoughts on the meeting and the idea that of everyone being punished, but it also focuses on the scene: a football game without a marching band. The scene is depicted very well in the article’s pictures. Readers can see what the game is like with the football players, but we wonder if the season will be as active as it once was without the band. There is also another strong picture of the hazing victim’s funeral. Through the radio clip, we can hear the scene of the game. There are cheerleaders screaming but then there is the sound of a rapper, who is the band’s replacement. It’s kind of odd and it shows how the game has changed now that the band isn’t playing anymore – it’s an odd pairing because we would expect to hear cheerleaders and a different type of music. This sound shows the change within the scene of a FAMU game. Another effective sound was the speech/moment of silence for the deceased drumming student. It captures the sadness of the situation and how something as horrible as this can ruin games that have gone on for years. Overall, setting the scene at the football game and using the rapper and speaker’s voice was an accurate way to bring people into the article, rather than just interview people’s thoughts (which they did, too)....