zvi: Christina Aguilera: Music Critic (music critic)
still kind of a stealthy love ninja ([personal profile] zvi) wrote in [community profile] podficmeta2010-01-14 05:57 pm
Entry tags:

If music be the food of love, play on

What should music do for a podfic?

I have to admit, most of the time when a podfic has music, I find it really annoying. However, there have been some cases when it was more effective than annoying, and I have tried to tease out what the differences were.

1) The music was used to structure the podfic listening experience. In Written by the Victors, for instance, music helps mark the transition between the Earth-based documentary sections and the third person narrative Atlantis sections.

2) The music was related to the fanfic. In [livejournal.com profile] pandarus' reading of Old Country, which is a Harry Potter/Supernatur crossover from Dean's POV, she uses wrock snippets to break up the sections. (Wrock or wizard rock is electric Harry Potter filk. Dean is a classic rock afficionado.) And, the wrock songs relate to the story sections. House of Awesome prefaces the section where Sam and Dean get sorted, and also relates to the fic's overall theme that Sam and Dean don't exactly fit into the normal wizard world's structures.

3) The music is brief. I always forget, but the musical interlude which opens Old Country makes me unhappy, because it's 1:57 seconds, which is at least 1 minute too long. The interlude which opens section two is 35 seconds, and it is perfect, just enough time to set up the story, not so long that I start feeling like maybe I should switch to my favorite radio station, instead of this one that I have landed on randomly. (And in this particular instance, I actually like In Your Shadow, which is what the too long snippet comes from. I don't have an example of a too long music section with music I dislike, because I've deleted any such podfics.)

How do you like music in podfic? When does it work for you and when does it make you want to put in your own mixtape instead? Are there any readers who are getting the balance right, or anyone who gets it really, really wrong? Can someone who likes having entire songs included in podfic, either as a reader or listener, talk about what they like about it?
dodificus: (Default)

[personal profile] dodificus 2010-01-15 06:46 am (UTC)(link)
Disclaimer: I've used music in at least two of my podfics, both times the music came from an associated fic soundtrack. So, I guess first I'll talk about how I use music (when I do use it) and how I feel about music in podfic in general

So, considering the ratio of podfics that I *have* used music in is very low, it's obvious that it's not something I do all the time. I don't like to add music for the sake of it, it has to have some kind of resonance with the story, it has to add something. The two stories that I used music in were Knuckles of Skinnybone Tree by hansbekhart and Rave Atlantis by smittywing.

To me, I didn't even consider recording Rave Atlantis without including the soundtrack, the structure and content of the story is so bound to the music. And KoKBT had such a profound effect on me when I first read it, I wanted so much to try to re-create that atmosphere and eeriness in my podfic. Hence the soundtrack and a few other sound effects scattered through out. And, for me at least, I think I was successful.

As a listener I'm not a fan of including entire songs, I think the song should set up the mood, make you anticipatory for the story and then nicely segue into the reading. Sometimes the music gets you to that point of anticipation and then just keeps going and you just get bored (and I'm not saying I haven't been guilty of that, it's a fine line) and irritated.

And of course it helps if it's edited in smoothly, with no jarring stop/starts or sound jumps:)

So, basically I enjoy music in podfics as long as it does something for the story and doesn't *detract* from the experience by making the narrative hard to hear. I'm quite happy with a little musical sting at the beginning to set the tone and engage me. Just. Some people have really bad taste in music:)

dodificus: (Default)

[personal profile] dodificus 2010-01-15 09:27 pm (UTC)(link)
Like, 35 seconds, yeah, if it's something that's bad, I would care, but can five seconds of not actually painful sound really detract from our enjoyment?

The sting rarely, if ever bothers me, it's not around long enough to. But it can sometimes leave me wondering why the reader chose that particular piece of music.

Rave Atlantis was aaaages ago but from what I remember the music is between every section and goes for much longer than I imagine you would be comfortable with.
lomedet: voluptuous winged fairy with curly dark hair (Default)

[personal profile] lomedet 2010-01-15 07:29 am (UTC)(link)
I don't mind music that's used to open or close a podfic, especially if it's thematically related to the story. Like - the podific of [personal profile] astolat's AI7 story Time of Your Life ends with one of the Davids singing, which seems really appropriate to me.

I don't like music (or any sound effects, really) being played under the text of the story/while someone is reading. I do most of my listening to podfic on public transit with crappy earbuds, so anything that makes it even harder to hear the words makes me grumpy.

A cool thing you didn't mention about the music in Written by the Victors is the way it changes over the course of the story - the first time we hear it it is a clip from a familiar song, and by the last time we hear it it has changed/evolved into some thing much more Lantean. That shift really added to my sense of the Pegasus-ization of the Milky Way natives in the story.
dodificus: (Default)

[personal profile] dodificus 2010-01-15 09:37 am (UTC)(link)
A cool thing you didn't mention about the music in Written by the Victors is the way it changes over the course of the story - the first time we hear it it is a clip from a familiar song, and by the last time we hear it it has changed/evolved into some thing much more Lantean.

Yes, yes, yes! A thousand times, yes. I got goosebumps by the end of Victors because of how alien the narrative/music had become, how they'd made it their own.
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)

[personal profile] luzula 2010-01-15 12:38 pm (UTC)(link)
I tend to like music in podfics if the music itself is to my taste (and if I feel that it fits with the story and character). Yeah, that's quite subjective and not a criterion that's very useful to anyone else. So in that way it could be considered a bit risky to include music in your podfic--the listeners who don't share your taste in music might be put off.

Talking over music tends to put me off, even if I like the music, since it's harder to hear the voice.

I do remember one podfic where I really enjoyed the way music was used, and that's Endless Moments, by Fayjay. The fic pairs up the Firefly characters with the Endless in Sandman, and a short clip of music is used to separate the sections. I liked the way the reader selected music to fit the various characters, and the length of the clips worked well for me, too.

I like using music in quite a different way in my own recordings. I enjoy singing, and I've recorded fics where a character was singing something, so that the singing was part of the story. I've also done one (Two Birds) where bits of poetry that were taken from an old nursery rhyme separated the sections. I set these to music and sung them. Does anyone know of other podficcers who use singing in their podfics?
niko: (Default)

[personal profile] niko 2010-01-15 07:52 pm (UTC)(link)
One of the reasons I chose the story I'm working on right now was that I *really* wanted to do the singing in it. :) It's only a few lines in the first and last scenes, but it's supposed to be really obnoxious and over-exuberant and not very good. Gave me a chance to ham it up a bit, and it didn't matter if I sounded horrible. :)

luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)

[personal profile] luzula 2010-01-16 03:43 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, it sounds fun to sing in character, and deliberately overdo the singing. I've thought of doing a fic like that, too.
valiha: watercolor painting of my cat Lola (Default)

[personal profile] valiha 2010-01-23 11:50 am (UTC)(link)
Presuming you're talking about what I think you're talking about, you have no idea how much I'm looking forward for you to finish this! :flails:
darkemeralds: Photo of a microphone with caption Read Me a Story. (Podfic)

[personal profile] darkemeralds 2010-01-15 08:38 pm (UTC)(link)
No, but I'm currently listening to Alan Rickman reading Hardy's The Return of the Native, and he sings a stanza or two of a folk song that appears in the narrative. He sings it in character. In the regional dialect.

With a standard like that before me, I wouldn't dare! I think I'd risk singing a line or two if I were podficcing a story in which, say, Dean sings some Led Zeppelin, but I have to take my hat off to you for actually setting something to your own music and singing it. Very impressive.
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)

[personal profile] luzula 2010-01-16 03:47 pm (UTC)(link)
Setting things to music is actually my earliest way of being fannish--I read LotR as a kid, and made up melodies for all the songs.

Anyway, I'm not aiming for a professional actor's level. And I doubt I could do regional dialect anyway, since English isn't my native language. I just enjoy singing.

And hey, I'm glad you liked Two Birds. Thanks!
darkemeralds: Photo of a microphone with caption Read Me a Story. (Podfic)

[personal profile] darkemeralds 2010-01-15 08:43 pm (UTC)(link)
Oooh, I just downloaded your "Two Birds". You have a LOVELY voice! Wow, no wonder you're willing to sing in your podfic.
dexwebster: fluting a piecrust (Default)

[personal profile] dexwebster 2010-01-15 07:46 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't think I've actually listened to many podfics that have music, and I just went poking around my collection to see if I'm just forgetting them. Of the few times I can remember music in fic, most of them were annoying, usually because they too loud compared to the fic.

The one big exception to this is Gerard Way's (Vampire) Detective Agency (also by Fayjay), a bandom AU fic that

a) uses a song by the band featured in a really entertaining way. The story is about a private detective who caters to the supernatural "midnighter" community of vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc. The intro music is a song called Vampires Will Never Hurt You, by the band featured in the fic, which I thought was pretty hilarious.

b) has PSA/statute excerpts from the midnighter regulations and such written into the fic, and the podfic offsets them with literally just a few seconds of news-bulletin type music that was really effective.
dexwebster: fluting a piecrust (Default)

[personal profile] dexwebster 2010-01-15 09:22 pm (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I'm not always the biggest fan of their older stuff (which Vampires Will Never Hurt You definitely is) either.

I admit, I'd mentally totally glossed over the song at the end, because normally as soon as it starts, I go, "Ugh," and stop/change the story. I've never listened to it, so I'd kind of forgotten it was there.
anatsuno: a women reads, skeptically (drawing by Kate Beaton) (Default)

[personal profile] anatsuno 2010-01-17 02:22 am (UTC)(link)
I would still complain about the shift in levels (I say this as a hypothetical because I've never listened to this one yet, though I have downloaded it)! I have the same issue with Fayjay's podfic of Toft's Homo ex Machina. It's a podfic I LOVE love love love and use to fall asleep to (but not only), but the opening has music and the closing has music (the same song, iirc), and both times the levels are fucked up a ton louder than the words they bracket, which is /horrendous/ and jarring and wakes me up after I fell asleep. So. Yeah. Levels: Probably Even More Important To Me Than Music Y/N.

darkemeralds: Photo of a microphone with caption Read Me a Story. (Podfic)

[personal profile] darkemeralds 2010-01-15 08:33 pm (UTC)(link)
Personally, I like being "played on" and "played off" in an audio story. My favorite professional audiobooks use a bit of introductory music, just a few seconds, that fades very quickly as the narration begins, and heighten the emotional effect of a great ending with a brief welling-up-and-fading-out of similar music.

Especially at the end, the right kind and amount of music can provide a gentle, swelling notice that the end is approaching, and a ramp from storytime back into real life. Used right, a little music gives a very satisfying closure to what has been, after all, a pretty big commitment of time and emotion on the listener's part.

I've only made a little podfic so far, and I've used music in (I hope) this way. I expect I'll keep doing it because I really like it. Finding the right section of the right song, and fitting the rhythm of my narration to it, fading it in and out at the right rate--all are important, and I spend a lot of time on those things.
darkemeralds: Photo of a microphone with caption Read Me a Story. (Podfic)

[personal profile] darkemeralds 2010-01-15 09:16 pm (UTC)(link)
It's easy enough to re-save an Audacity project file without the music track, so that would be a simple thing to do.

Since we all seem to be depending currently on Jinjurly's audiofic archive, my only concern would be her effort in uploading, archiving, labeling, and making space for all the versions. I don't have a clear idea of how all that work gets done, but I envision it as being labor intensive and technical. Any ideas about it?
dodificus: (Default)

[personal profile] dodificus 2010-01-15 09:31 pm (UTC)(link)
I know how she does it and it *is* time intensive but she has little helpers. I doubt very much she'd gnash her teeth at having to upload a different version of a podfic (some people already offer two different versions when posting), she really does like to promote diversity.
darkemeralds: Photo of a microphone with caption Read Me a Story. (Podfic)

[personal profile] darkemeralds 2010-01-15 11:10 pm (UTC)(link)
Good to know. Thanks.

This reminds me of another podfic-adjacent issue that I'd love to see discussed, here or elsewhere, to wit: technical standards.

Bitrate, preferred formats, submission-to-archive preferences, guidelines or preferences as to file size, process for removing and replacing a faulty file--that sort of thing. The ones and zeroes and how they get there.
jesse_the_k: Baby wearing huge black glasses (eyeglasses baby)

[personal profile] jesse_the_k 2010-01-16 10:11 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm just starting, so I can't imagine what the deep philosophical debates on the issue would address, so please start a post and educate me about them!

(Think of it as a chance to mold young minds.)
cofax7: climbing on an abbey wall  (Default)

[personal profile] cofax7 2010-01-16 11:42 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't mind short-ish snippets of music as lead-in or interstitial material. I do mind entire songs, because (a) I'm there for the story, not the music; and (b) if it's a song I don't like I'm stuck with it, because I don't know if I can fastforward without missing some of the story.

I can live with that, though.

I cannot live with recording the narrative over the music, though, which makes it nearly impossible for me to follow the narrative. As I said before, that's an accessibility issue. Any and all solutions for that (not doing it, marking it on the headers, or providing a music-free version of the file) would be gratefully received.

(Anonymous) 2010-01-17 01:18 am (UTC)(link)
Here via Metafandom on LJ, and I am Gloria1 on LJ - I think I'm logged in as anon here and its too late and I've had too much red wine to remember my Dreamwidth login...;) My apologies.

I love podfics (and audio books) very much and listen to them all the time. To answer your questions, I don't like 'music' in pods as such, though I tolerate a *brief* musical intro or motif as a chapter break, say, an intro or exit (music used as 'punctuation' or presentation, if you will). I have come across one or two who used music to excess but I can't remember who they were, I'm afaid: I just binned them.

Having to listen to a whole song, especially a song I don't know - I will simply ff through it. If that happens a lot in a pod, or if music is played alongside or under the script as it is read then I will not save that pod, and I will carefully consider future downloads from those podders. If its a story I really love...? Ack, well, maybe.

For me, the tone, diction and speed of the *reader* is far more important. I have some pods I listen to frequently simply because the tone of voice is warm and inviting - I don't even know the story or fandom for some of them! I simply love that voice reading to me. I mean, I can listen to Alec Guinness read *anything*, and the same goes for some podfic readers.

As a podfic consumer, my one request would be : speak slower and speak *clearly*. The use of music I can work around.
hope: Art of a woman writing from tour poster (command key)

[personal profile] hope 2010-01-20 08:23 am (UTC)(link)
I came across this while reading the new (2.0) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines today, thought it was quite relevant!

1.4.7 Low or No Background Audio: For audio content that (1) is not an audio CAPTCHA and (2) contains speech in the foreground, at least one of the following is true: (Level AAA)

* No Background: The audio does not contain background sounds.
* Turn Off: The background sounds can be turned off.
* 20 dB: The background sounds are at least 20 decibels lower than the foreground speech content, with the exception of occasional sound effects.

Note: Per the definition of "decibel," background sound that meets this requirement will be approximately four times quieter than the foreground speech content.

"Level AAA" refers to the highest level of accessibility compliance.

Source: http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/CR-WCAG20-20080430/
cofax7: climbing on an abbey wall  (Default)

[personal profile] cofax7 2010-01-20 07:03 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, that's neat. And useful!