"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Soundscapes: How a Guitar can Howl like a Wolf

This was the first practice of the "Forsaken Brother" story with guitarist Joshua Payne, and my nerves were on end.

I usually have butterflies in the stomach when I perform, but I had more than usual today.

I would not be alone as Julie Barnson, my story buddy, would also be in the room. That was comforting as she is a long-time storytelling friend. Joshua is still learning about the storytelling world so there is more pressure to be as exceptional as possible.

Luckily, the meeting was called a "practice" so perfection was not required. In fact, this was the place to make mistakes.

While Joshua set up his guitar, I reviewed the French scenes and shared which areas were key for certain sounds from him.

The wolf howls were important to the plot and the wind threaded its way throughout the story.

I was amazed when Joshua demonstrated how his guitar could how like a wolf. He turned some knobs and the eerie sound escaped his instrument.

I had always envisioned having music to enhance the "Forsaken Brother" story, but what I heard surpassed my imaginations.

It was evident that Joshua had done his research before coming to the meeting. He had listened to other stories that merged music with words such as the classic "Peter and the Wolf". Though what we would do was vastly different that than piece, there were techniques that could be drawn from it such as the power of silence or how to not overpower the speaker.

So with less confidence than usual, I told the "Forsaken Brother" story. I attempted to stop after each French scene as Joshua and I decided that each scene could have a different soundscape. My mp3 recorder/microphone caught these moments at the same time of Joshua's recorder.

With all the pauses and word-tumblings, it took 27 minutes to tell! I predicted that the polished story would be between 15-20 minutes. My pacing was slow and words were drawn out so I knew I was on track. Of course, the story must go as long as it must go.

After telling the whole story, Joshua spoke some musical lingo and terminology that was unfamiliar to me.

Here is what we decided after the first time through the story:
  • Story would begin and end with the same soundscape though the beginning would be in the major chord while the ending would be in the minor chord
  • Pause or silence during the chanting would heighten the mood
  • A final howl from the guitar would follow after my last words
  • Time may be given for pure music during seasonal changes in the story
I look forward to more practices to see what develops.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

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