Texture

Texture is the spice of life

What is Texture?

The term “texture” in podcasting could be interchangeable with variety. Does your podcast feature one speaker, or many? Do you have one piece of music used throughout or a range of music to fit the scene? Do you have other sound - actuality, or ambient sound, such as doors opening, a phone ringing, a car starting, a family conversation and so on.

How do we use texture to create interest?

A range of voices

In podcasting it can be effective to have a range of voices speaking on a topic. Including a range of voices can add depth to your podcast in many ways and suggest a range of notions to the listener:

  • Is the issue simple or complex?

  • What different opinions exist on the issue?

  • What emotions does the issue stir up in the different speakers?

  • Do the speakers agree or see the issue from a similar perspective?

Changing speakers can denote to your listener a change of topic or a change of perspective. This is also an effective tool for reinforcing or framing content in a particular way.

An Example

For example, listen to the first two minutes of this Freakonomics podcast. It uses a variety of speakers to frame content and hint at the guests you will hear later in the episode.

How to become a C.E.O. [1]

There are eight speakers in the first minute of audio, and the eighth speaker is the first to get an introduction. Introducing Nicholas Bloom leads to outlining the frame for the episode.

It is 100 seconds into the podcast before the theme plays. In that first 100 seconds is the introduction to the topic, the guests’ voices and style of the podcast.

Setting the scene

Next time you watch a film, close your eyes and listen to a scene. Notice all the things that you hear that aren’t the voice of the character.

Diegetic Sound (ambient or actuality - location sound)

Diegetic sounds refer to audio that can be found within the context of the story. In audio, you could argue that this is the location audio. If you interview someone in a cafe, this would include any ambient noise from where the recording took place and vocal tics (umms & aahs) of the speaker.

Non-Diegetic Sound

Non-diegetic sounds refer to audio that has been added to the location audio. This could be additional voice-over narration, music or sound effects to add emotional or dramatic effect.

Using textural audio

When recording in a location it is good practice to record a couple of minutes of ambient audio. This can be used to your benefit in a variety of ways:

  • to hide edits within your audio

  • to set the scene for the listener

  • to help the listener gain additional insight into the speaker

References

  1. Dubner S. How to Become a C.E.O [Internet]. Freakonomics. 2018 [cited 19 September 2018]. Available: Freakonomics (web link)

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This article is from the free online course:

The Power of Podcasting for Storytelling

University of Wollongong