#spoken word

Writing With Audio

When it comes to audio equipment for spoken word performances: what works and what doesn’t? How can I impprove my sound, on the smallest possible budget?

  • I have a decent XLR microphone. I have a computer with a decent sound card. What is the best way to connect the two?
  • I want to manipulate voices. Is that done with a vocoder? Do I need hardware or software for that?
  • I want to be able to edit recordings. I’ve used Garage Band, and it’s nice, but I don’t have a mac. Is there something that is comparably user-friendly for the PC?
  • With all of these things, I don’t want to get overwhelmed by tinkering with equipment. The point, for me, is to get down to creative work.

I’ve been working up to this for a while, now. When I interview people for articles, I always bring along my handheld MP3 audio recorder. I just love that thing. Sometimes, I also use it to record spoken word performances . The spoken word album , of course that required the use of some (more advanced) audio equipment. Recently, while working on the script for a play, some friends of mine used an iPhone to record a cold reading of the script, which will allow me to “hear” the characters for the first time. Also for that play, I’ve been listening to a lot of strange music , to give myself a sense of setting.

About four years ago, I lived in a “live-in studio space” a warehouse loft in a Baltimore building they call The Copycat. I had so much space! I actually had several spaces while living there, but the last one was about 800 square feet and I devoted most of it to a writing studio . Now, I live in a very different space, and I am not so interested in the space itself as I am with tools that are available to me. In particular, I’m interested in adding audio tools to my writing toolbox. Even so, I think it will be fun to figure out how to set up a more audio-friendly writing space.

I got the idea for “writing with audio” during my visit to New York a couple weeks ago, I learned something interesting about The Wooster Group . I have a friend who works with them. They’re an experimental theater group who incorporates video into many aspects of their lives: they take direction in some sense from video of all kinds, they video blog during creative retreats, their vlog has all kinds of stuff in it, the performances are recorded by video and in some sense the performances are also a response to all this video. So, for these guys, video opens up a lot of creative possibilities. I think audio would be the thing for me to open up creative possibilities.