Glossary of Audio and Radio Drama terms and vocabulary

Writing Audio Drama by Tim Crook published by Routledge 31st March 2023

Book Description

Writing Audio Drama offers a comprehensive and intelligent guide to writing sound drama for broadcasting and online. This book uses original research on the history of writing radio plays in the UK and USA to explore how this has informed and developed the art form for more than 100 years.

Audio drama in the context of podcasting is now experiencing a global and exponential expansion. Through analysis of examples of past and present writing, the author explains how to create drama which can explore deeply psychological and intimate themes and achieve emotional, truthful, entertaining and thought-provoking impact. Practical analysis of the key factors required to write successful audio drama is covered in chapters focusing on audio play beginnings and openings, sound story dialogue, sustaining the sound story, plotting for sound drama, and the best ways of ending audio plays. Chapters are supported by online resources which expand visually on subjects discussed and point to exemplar sound dramas referenced in the chapters.

This textbook will be an important resource for advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students taking courses such as Podcasting, Radio, Audio Drama, Scriptwriting, and Media Writing.

The content of all the companion web-pages for this project is in the process of development, and completion is expected 31st December 2023 following the publication of the printed book 31st March 2023. Many thanks for your patience and consideration.

Fade- (From BBC World Service 1973) ‘The mechanism used to control the volume of voices and sound effects (whether on record or tape) is a type of knob which can be turned quickly or slowly so that the producer can bring in and up the combinations of sound (or take them down and out) to suit the mood and action of the scene.’ In the digital age such a function is now predetermined digitally on a software programme. It can be corrected and changed at any time in a multi-track screen layout. The live human factor of operation with fingers usually on a slider plastic fader going up and down inn a slot or track now only takes place if a studio manager/sound engineer is operating a mixing panel with live performance to microphones being balanced to other sound sources. In older mixer technology this would be achieved by turning a knob clockwise or anti-clockwise. They were called ‘pots’ for potentiometer. In radio producers would required ‘pot points’ for any programme sequence that could be ended with a rapid fade at points which would have sounded as a natural end point for the listener. The pre-digital age of the 1970s had pre-recorded sources originating from reel-to-reel quarter inch tape or vinyl records. This would develop through cartridges, floppy discs, DAT tape, CD, mini-disc and eventually digital audio sound file- usually in WAV form.

FX- (From BBC World Service 1973) “Simply shorthand for sound effects like doors opening or closing. It covers all sound effects whether done in the studio, on record or on tape. In a professional radio production the script would probably also differentiate between sound effects to be made by tape and disc recordings, and to be done in the studio. Those done in the studio are called ‘spot effects’.” At the present time sound effects sources are usually always recorded digital audio files.

MIC- (From BBC World Service 1973) “Microphone. Where the actors, or sound effects man, stand in relation to the microphone governs the perspectives and the movement that the listener hears. For example, if the action demands that a character enters a room through a door, the door and the actor must sound as if they are in the same place. Then to bring the actor into the centre of the room he must move up to the microphone while he is speaking so that the audience hears him move. Therefore in a script the directions are ‘coming on mic.'”

PEAK- (From BBC World Service 1973) ‘Bringing up background sound effects in the middle of a scene, holding them at full strength and then fading them under the actors’ voices. This is a useful technique for shifting the action from one place to another in the same setting at the same time.’


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