Throughout the entirety of the piece, I thought the way the ambient noise and narration intermingled with one another created an absolutely awesome atmosphere that really helped fill out the story.
In the beginning, I thought the opening bits of narration where Alex is describing the journey to Heyoon were really accented by the natural sounds. The part where someone says “here, use a lighter” accompanied by the sound of a lighter flick caused a mental image of a flame to pop up in my mind. The sound of their feet padding along on the ground, then the gradual stop and heavy breathing, conjured up the whole picture for me of them flying across the field hoping not to get spotted. Besides the natural sounds, the ambient noise the piece employs when the woman is reading the sign (“it’s beauty alone is your reward for meandering here,” etc.) was very effective, I thought. The sort of quiet, dreamlike ambient music there really gets you thinking about what she’s saying, especially since she’s speaking about abstract ideas.
Next, the segment where people are describing Heyoon to people who’d never seen it was like a bombardment of ideas. “A rocketship, a mushroom, a car, etc.” nonstop really just fills your mind with all kinds of shapes and ideas about what this place looks like. Later, I thought the playful chime music playing as Alex talked about how Heyoon was like a ‘kids vs. adults’ place lent an air of carefreeness and whimsicality to my mental picture.
I thought the natural sound during the Peter Heydon interview portion was effective at painting a picture of the encounter. (shuffling of feet, jangling of keys, sound of a turn signal) Afterwards, I thought the piano music during Heydon’s regaling of the birth of the idea for the pavilion was cool. It sort of helped create that atmosphere when he was talking about the drunken antics that birthed the idea.
Then, the music played during Joseph Kinnebrew’s narration about art, and how art is somehow owned by all, had the same effect as the other uses of ambient sound. It beefed up and made the abstract concepts more interesting to the listener.
At the end when it’s revealed that the sound of the group sneaking onto the property was faked, I was pretty surprised. However, I don’t think that reduces the segment’s legitimacy as a piece of journalism. There’s a few reasons for this. First of all, I think that without that audio, the piece wouldn’t have been able to do anywhere near as good of a job really portraying the way the kids had to sneak out to the pavilion. Without that audio, the whole mental image of people running and sneaking their way across a field is lost. Secondly, the fact that Alex admits to it being fake helps preserve credibility because he’s being honest about artistic liberties taken in order to really truly deliver this story as best as possible to the listener.
I really enjoyed this piece. I actually grew up about 20 minutes outside of AA and my parents, brother and girlfriend all went/are going to UofM. I had never heard of the pavilion before. super cool!