Things I've Learned:
An occasional series of hard-won-wisdoms from the mischief-making, pixie-dust-sprinkling, original-thinking auteurs of the audio world
Please supply a short 'official' biography
Born in 1968 in London - moved to Copenhagen, Denmark in 1996. I have been working formally and informally with sound for twenty years or more. As producer and editor of dozens of experimental audio productions at the Danish National Radio - ranging from sound art and compositions to straight up documentaries, from poetry and spoken word pieces to radio dramas. In recent years I’ve been producing my own and others' work for the internet based digital magazine Third Ear - which I founded in 2009. Mixing up all the lessons learned from a career touching on film, music, drama and documentary.
What are your top tips for making audio pieces?
1. Worship structure
Storytelling is about structure. It's taken humankind about 100,000 years to figure out - you know nothing new - so respect the structure of stories - by using whatever model you prefer. There IS a rulebook. Learn the rules before you start to mess with them. Then mess with them.
2. Timing is every .....thing
When you put stuff together it won't mean a thing if if don't got that swing. Be bold in your use of sound and words - be dynamic in any way you can be, enjoy the mix of things. Being boring is a crime in storytelling and if you are dull you have failed. Period.
3. Work in scenes
Radio Stories - like movies - work very well with scenes. A scene has one place, one action, one purpose and moves a story one step forward. It is never longer than around 4 minutes. Do the math - if you have 30 minutes -and 12 scenes - then you're down to 2 or 3 minutes a scene. There is only One opening, one closing , one climax and one of everything else. Only one. Each scene fits on your dramatic curve in the right spot. If you have two of anything it's time to make a choice.
4. It's not just about the words
Many make the mistake of editing to script only. There is sometimes more meaning in a pause than an explanation, a breath than a sentence, a cigarette puff than a list of information. Listen to how it sounds - don't just read what it says. Information is musical, emotional, spatial and more.
5. Audio can do layers, use them
A neat aspect of auditive cognition and stories is that we can carry multiple stands of information at once without getting confused. Again - information is not just words, it is location,feeling,emotion, music, space and time and more.
6. Be grammatical
Audio has grammar - and if you use it well it will serve you better. Full stops can sound like a door closing, commas like a cough, Capital letters like the opening note of an overture. Sentences make paragraphs. If you're hearing very long ones then chop them up.
7. Every second counts, every element is important
There are no moments you do not control in your story - so even fluffy bits like intros and set ups, outros and credits are in your control and they can all be made to enhance the story. Music is not just incidental, location not just noise, intonation not just words. If its sounds boring then it is boring. regardless of how good you think it ought to be, or how good it looks on paper. If you feel bored - it's because you're bored and you need to fix that. You won't be the only one.
8. Trust the Gods
Allow chance, accidents, mistakes and things that ought to be wrong to make magic for you - if you don't open up to the possible and trust that a good story will find its way out if you are there to let it out you'll never spot any magic.
9. Get good ears you trust to listen with you when you're done
Listen through together and take notes. You'll hear what they hear - if they tell you what's wrong then believe them and fix it. No man or woman can do this alone, no mater how long you do it - other ears will always show up the weak points in what you made alone.
Please supply a visual representation of your life in audio and explain your choice.
Here's a picture of a patented home-made sofa studio - simply up end your sofa next to your bookcase and viola!