Voice, Narrative, Place: Listening to Stories (2018)

Isobel Anderson

About this exposition

Sound art is rarely associated with storytelling. While it is widely recognised that sound is deeply connected to narrative and imagery (e.g. Emmerson 1986; Wishart 1996), it is sound’s relationship to physical space that is often referred to in order to define this medium [or: that often defines this connection]. While this aspect of sound is important, I argue that the combination of sound and oral storytelling engages the listener’s imagination with the unseen and indefinable qualities of sound through its invisible dialogue with our mind. In addition, when this combination is applied to specific locations or sites, this listening experience profoundly contributes to our construction of ‘place’. Therefore, this article attempts to open up a discussion of the relationship between sound, stories and place, using examples of sound art pieces that explore the listening potentials of this combination within site-specific audio works. Through voice and sound, these works tell stories of and/or in place, referred to in this paper as site-specific stories. These stories require the listener to engage creatively with their narratives and, therefore, induce a productive listening state. Three main factors that affect this listening process are discussed; [1] the environment or listening place; [2] the storyteller or disembodied voice; and [3] the inner voice. Finally, this article concludes that further analysis and discussion of oral storytelling within sound art and its relationship to site is needed in order to understand the productive listening potentials of this combination, which shape our surrounding environments.
typeresearch exposition
last modified27/06/2018
share statusprivate
licenseAll rights reserved
published inJournal of Sonic Studies
portal issue02. Issue 2

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