I have dabbled in listening to audio storytelling, meaning basically that I have listened to almost all of the Magnus Archives, and sometimes Trixie and Katyas’ Bald and the Beaufiful podcast, but Moon Graffiti was completely different. Moon Graffiti somehow managed to create a world out of sounds. It was the opposite of a silent film, packed with scenery and costumes for the eyes to get lost in. This was layer after layer of overlapping sounds merging into each other or stopping suddenly to change the pace around. It’s hard to explain but let’s just say I didn’t really understand the phrase “sound landscape” before I listened to this. Moon Graffiti was amazing and I have very little reference for understanding exactly how they did it. Besides the dialogue, the sounds helped convey the story with dramatic swings or a sudden silence, similar to how a cut or a zoom-in in a film might work, or how a gut-punching sentence or paragraph/chapter break would.
These are two specific clips I wanted to pull out and spotlight.
The above clip held my attention for two reasons. First, the camera clicks. Both of the characters are in space, so the click of the camera would not exist. It would make no sound, and yet the addition of it is spectacular. It breaks up the pace of the story. And I found that when I heard the clicks, I imagined snapshots instead of the character himself taking photos. Just an interesting thing. The other reason I chose this clip was the switch. I can’t explain the reasons behind this too specifically, but in this clip, there is a sudden shift in sound as Buzz says “Neil, you gotta see this”. There is a brief moment of silence after a kind of build-up. Basically, the end result was ear-catching. I sat up a little straighter, aware something drastic had happened, but due to lack of visuals, waiting to hear exactly what was the situation.
I know the concept of a voice-over in a film. What is shown on the screen is not the person talking. This clip achieved the same effect for me. Because of the sort of static-like sound landscape of the moon, when the narrator begins the speech, I wasn’t pulled away to the speaker, I was still thinking of Buzz and Neil on the moon.
I think there is often a little bit of a learning curve here just in the act of listening. I know for me, after a break from reading, it can take a couple thousand words to get back into it and slip into the narrative, to get to that place where I do not even see the words on the page, but the images in my mind. I think it is a similar thing here. I have to get used to imagining the images that go along with audio stories. That practice is certainly made easier with such fantastically well-done stories.