I’ve happened upon a new way of recording stories recently!
Most of the stories that you will currently find in the Palace of Stories catalogue are actually retellings of stories that I told at my children’s bedside. The Sun’s Message, The Handkerchief’s Story, and about 70 others were all created by first listening back to the recordings I made at bedtime and then re-telling them in the recording booth I have installed in a shed at the bottom of my garden.
In recent months I had been getting restless with this way of creating material, finding less and less enthusiasm for it. Finally, this summer a new form emerged: I’ve started simply going into the studio and telling the story live, i.e. with no idea of what’s going to come.
This is how I usually tell, whether for children or adults, it’s the Intuitive Storytelling method I’ve been developing for over 17 years (for more on this, listen to my recent talk at the Norre Vosborg Storytelling Festival in Denmark). The strategy of listening back to an old story and then retelling it was a bit of an aberration, but it worked well for a time. But this new form is more exacting.
And that’s because I’m treating this studio recording as if it were a live performance – that means no pauses, no edits, no rewording. All of these sap the energy of the telling, making it cautious and buttoned up. I’m looking here for something wild and flowing. So sometimes I might stumble on a word, but I do that when telling live also, and don’t bother with it here. This raises the energy of the telling.
I’ve spent over 20 years creating audio recordings that have no slips, coughs, slurred words or other verbal stumbles. As soon as I make a fumble like that, I simply leave the recorder running and repeat the offending sentence. But this entails a lot of recordings that are substantially longer than the final edit, and hours and hours of working on those sessions on the computer afterwards to remove all those bum notes and replace them with the fault-free versions.
I feel like I’ve had it with this strategy. After all these years I’ve developed a low tolerance for audio editing on the computer: I only want to do what’s really necessary. And further, my telling style is now fluent enough that I can tell a whole story pretty much without these slips and slurs. What little there are simply add to the atmosphere, I think.
And that’s the other thing that’s changed: my confidence has grown to the point where I can actually stand behind such tellings and say “Yes, it’s NOT the BBC, or some actor reading a children’s book without an audible slip, but I no longer care!” I think my strength is in the telling, and the telling comes alive when it’s real and unknown and alive.
The Lazy Husband was recorded like this. If your child is aged seven or older, I hope they enjoy this story as much as my son Luke did!
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