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Seamless Fiction or Noisy Friction?: Audiobook Narration and the Grain of the Voice
Halmstad University, School of Education, Humanities and Social Science, Contexts and Cultural Boundaries (KK).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4453-945X
2014 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Seamless Fiction or Noisy Friction?: Audiobook Narration and the Grain of the Voice

In the past few decades fiction has become increasingly accessible through the audio medium due to the rapid development of sound technology from CD discs to Mp3 players. More recently, the technical sophistication of smartphones has greatly contributed to the creation of a culture of ubiquitous listening. We may allow ourselves to be swayed by spatialised sound reverberating through our bodies or we may decide to indulge in an interiorised experience of headphone listening that seems to make the cranium itself resound. Either way, the digitized voice has a powerful effect on our emotions.

However, enjoying fiction in this form also causes friction. The voice narrating the text is not infrequently perceived as a noisy machine. Arguably, twenty-first-century sonic friction of this kind is reminiscent of the controversy surrounding the nineteenth-century virtuoso, a figure that embodied the problem of mediation even before sound media existed and was often accused of tainting high art with commodified entertainment. In this paper I will move beyond simplistic value judgments that tend to polarise print text and audiobook format. Instead I wish to close the gap by exposing a behaviour associated with print culture through the agency of the recorded voice of narration. Subvocalisation is one case in point. In the reading of print text, the reader more or less unconsciously activates the vocal chords thus producing a rich and fully embodied experience of the text. Another example is the fairly recent Whispersync technology combining Kindle text, headphone listening and a spatialised sound experience. A main argument in my paper is that literary texts may contain audiophonic traces long before the technology as such exists.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014.
Keyword [en]
literature, technology
National Category
Humanities Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-27207OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-27207DiVA: diva2:770390
Conference
Minding the Sound – Sounding the Mind: Soundscapes Past and Present, Imagined and Real, 27-28 november 2014, Halmstad, Sverige
Available from: 2014-12-10 Created: 2014-12-10 Last updated: 2015-08-25Bibliographically approved

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Björkén-Nyberg, Cecilia

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf