Stories, Voices and Endings…Day 12

Day 12.  Today, I continued working on an audio/visual collection that includes oral histories, recorded workshops, group interviews, and tours of historic structures and sites narrated by locals with stories of their families, community and past times. The project requires transferring analog audio to digital files for preservation and for research access. So, as part of my work I get to play with software and hardware that allow me to reduce or increase the speed of playback, filter white noise and isolate sounds. Again, this is why I love this field of work.

While playing with the technical aspects is a good time, transcribing taps into my linguistic and story-teller tendencies. Transcribing requires active listening and re-listening. This sometimes means replaying the same audio clip so many times that a sentence no longer has meaning, but has become a syllabic chain of phonemes. Hard on the ears, but great for the mind! There is also something dreamlike in replaying disembodied voices that convey emotions based on recall. Not only are the stories intriguing, but the voices convey a palpable sense of nostalgia while memories re-create the world as it was.

And, when I need a break from active listening I take a step away from the text, sit back, breathe deeply and listen, truly listen to the voice. Not the story or the words, but the voices. Tones, notes, syncopated or synchronized sounds occurring naturally in throats and mouths. Dialects, inflections, personal vocal traits, vocal mannerisms and the weathering of the voice can be such a rich aural experience.

Today’s my Oral History voices included locals recalling the experience of working in the timber industry, working family farms and living in a rural area. And so, my photo-journal reflects the same…the Arcata Bottoms and Mad River.

Day 12. Pastoral and preparing for endings.

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