25 February 2014
When brainstorming for this audio essay, a few different ideas came to mind, and I had to choose which idea I thought that I could successfully convey to an audience while using different techniques that I have read and learned about throughout the semester. My first idea was to lead a yoga session, but I quickly nixed that idea because I thought it would be difficult to do without giving the listeners a visual reference for the different positions. My next idea was to explain the benefits of yoga and meditation, but I thought that might be too dry for the audience to have to endure for five minutes. Finally, I decided on a podcast in which I would lead listeners through a guided meditation in an effort to allow them to feel a deep relaxation. In this essay, I will elaborate on the decisions I made in my podcast by explaining my reasoning and relating my thought process back to what I have learned from the assigned readings.
As afore mentioned, I had a couple ideas in mind for this audio essay, but I ultimately decided to create a guided meditation podcast. After deciding what I was going to make, I then faced the challenge of deciding how to go about making the podcast. When I meditate, which I do regularly, I only listen to music. That being said, my first obstacle was deciding how to guide the meditation properly so that the listeners could pay attention to my voice, but still allow themselves to relax, which was my main goal for the audience. Meditation in itself is meant to be very calming, relaxing, and rejuvenating, so I wanted to make sure that these traits were communicated effectively through my podcast. In order to get a better idea of the direction I needed to take in order to achieve my goals, I looked back over some of the articles that I had read for class to try to see if there were any applicable concepts that I could apply to my essay. In the article “Sound Matters,” McKee states, “Often when listening to people speak (whether in person or via electronic technologies), we explicitly attend to the words that are stated, but we also implicitly adhere to how those words are said. Thus, meaning is carried not solely by the verbal content but, as oral performers and oral readers continually show, also by the vocal qualities” (340). I knew that I needed to take this into consideration when recording my podcast and use a calm, relaxed voice instead of a sharp, rushed voice so that my listeners would be able to feel the full effect that I wanted to convey. In addition to using a relaxing voice, I also wanted to have relaxing music in the background that was comparable to the music that I personally listen to when I meditate. In her article, McKee also mentions the importance of music as an element to establish tone and atmosphere while shaping the mood of the listener (343), but also the importance of silence, as “it involves listening for an absent presence, what is there and not there” (351). That being said, I knew that I did not want to be speaking for the entirety of the podcast because it would take away from my goal of the podcast, which was to allow the listener to just relax and meditate. So, keeping all of these concepts in mind, I sat down to begin writing the narration for my podcast.
Unfortunately, when I sat down to begin writing the narration, I could do nothing but draw a complete blank. As I mentioned before, during my own meditation, there are no one guiding me, so I didn’t know where exactly to begin. So instead of writing the narration right away, I decided to find a song that would be appropriate to use for the podcast. Almost immediately after I began my search I knew which song I was going to use. I chose a song from an album that I use to meditate, and then shortened it to fit in the five-minute time constraint. This song, “Ocean Sand” from Temmy Lewis’ album Ambience, is a very slow, mellow song that features a softly played piano, sounds of the wind, and a low, bass drum-like sound throughout. I find this song to be very relaxing, and it fit very well with the type of sound that I had envisioned playing in the background of the podcast.
After choosing the song, I then gathered my thoughts and again attempted to write the narration for my podcast. This time, however, I decided to take a different approach. Instead of just sitting at my computer and trying to come up with something that I thought might work, I tried actually listening to the music while laying down in an attempt to meditate. As the music played, I closed my eyes and began going through my usual meditation process, paying close attention to the actions that I usually do subconsciously. I began to notice all of the ways that I allowed myself to relax, and would stop frequently to write them down. After I had done this for about 15 minutes, I had compiled a list of about 20 different things that I had noticed my mind and body doing in an effort to relax and allow my mind to clear. I then transformed this list into a short narrative that I would be able to read while the song I had chosen played in the background. Then, using GarageBand, I began to record my podcast.
Because my goal of this podcast was simply to allow the listener to relax, I kept the narrative short, sweet, and to the point, but I also made strategic decisions when choosing when to start and stop speaking, as well as when to allow breaks for breaks in the narration. I also made sure that my voice stayed slow, steady, and relaxed throughout the recording. In the podcast, there are many brief pauses between words and phrases that would not be normal in everyday conversation. However, I used these pauses for emphasis. By pausing after certain phrases, I was allowing the listener to absorb what I had said and follow through with the action before having another instruction to listen to and to follow. To me, this was very important because it really did allow the listener to relax and not have to overthink any of the narration. In this way, I feel that I utilized the silence element that McKee mentioned very effectively. These silences, in addition to the relaxing voice and music, made for a podcast that I am very proud of and do believe could actually be used as a short guided meditation for any and all listeners.
In conclusion, my meditation podcast was created with the sole purpose of allowing the listeners to relax. By combining my ideas with different concepts that I learned from the class readings, I feel that I was able to successfully create an audio essay that does indeed allow the listeners to relax. And while the podcast may seem like it was easy to make to an outsider, there was a lot more thought and work that went into it than meets the eye, as described in this rationale. Namaste.
Word Count: 1228
McKee, Heidi. “Sound Matters: Notes Toward the Analysis and Design of Sound in Multimodal Webtexts.” Computers and Composition 23 (2006): 335-354. Print.