Wow…that was both dark and depressing…
Very well done though!
In terms of the sounds utilized in this audio, I would like to separate the verbal and the non-verbal sounds into two distinct categories. Both are important, but fulfill different roles.
First of all, the verbal. Abumrad said that there is the “potential for empathy” and that the “power of medium is rooted in human voice”, “the human voice has so much information in it”, and that “the musicality of the human voice is the engine of everything that we do”. This can really be seen, or really heard, through this audio. For example, at one point towards the end, one of the astronauts sounds defeated. As a fellow human, who understand how hopeless they are, you feel sympathy for the character. This is especially the case as one of the astronauts, I believe the other one, wants desperately to call his family one last time. It’s touching that he wants to call his family again, and us listeners understand that sentiment and would most likely want to do the same. This creates empathy, just as Abumrad talked about. At one point, an astronaut appears to have a panic attack and both seem to have trouble breathing at the end. Again, this creates increased sympathy for the characters and make the viewers feel worse about their fate. Finally, “Nixon” at the end sounds so serious and almost sounds like he’s crying at the end while giving the speech. It’s human nature the feel sad and maybe even cry when others are sad and crying. The sadness makes us sad, again showing, and achieving, the “potential for empathy” While nonverbal sounds, which will be talked about next, help the audience the put themselves in their place, it’s the verbal that transmit the fear, the hopeless, the overall emotions and feelings from the characters to the listeners, and generate them within the listeners themselves, which really drives the experience.
While Abumrad didn’t really talk about the nonverbal, especially nonverbal sounds that aren’t made with verbal sounds, they are also important in this audio. They aren’t the heart-clenchers, the emotional high. Instead, they aid and supplement the verbal, while also standing alone. For example, in the part where the astronauts are planting the flag, the background music and the dull thuds to put in flag sound ominous, which reflects the fact that they (the astronauts) are going to die soon stranded on the moon. It adds to the depressing, serious tone, which in turn affects the audience’s mood in the same way. This supplements the talk of death that happens before and after the flag-erecting. Even earlier in the audio, the music and latching opening noise when they crash land sound ominous, reflecting the serious situation they are in and foreshadowing their eventual deaths. In that case, there is no verbal that it is really connected to, as their voices right before and after this are calm though tense, so in this case they nonverbal sounds stand on their own. Another example of nonverbal supporting verbal is the beginning, where the sounds sound like being in a cockpit (do rockets have cockpits?). The sounds help transport us the listeners and help us imagine the rocket, and ourselves being there, and thus sets the scene for the voices talking about landing the rocket. It helps us to transport to the story, the “dream state” as Abumrad, put is, and with being together with the characters, it again helps us to create empathy and drives the emotion.
To summarize-the verbal is the main act, the real driving force of the story and the audio, while the nonverbal in the supporting role, helping to create the background, the atmosphere, the mood that supplements and enhances the verbal. While both of these separate can be emotional, combined they make for a moving, powerful, impactful production.
The Featured image is from here:
Gregory H. Revera
22 October 2010