The New York Times is known for its popular “One in 8 Million” audio story collection, which tells the stories of dozens of New Yorkers who have suffered from illnesses, have interesting jobs or are just your Average Joe. Apart from that collection of stories, however, the Times has produced other interesting pieces that tell the story of an individual — and in the case of this blog post, a musical instrument — through sound accompanied by photographs.
Narrated by reporter Emily Rueb, “The Lourdes of Twang” goes inside the Martin Guitar Factory in Nazareth, Pennsylvania to uncover the process and means it takes to create an instrument and brand that is used by musicians from Eric Clapton and John Mayer to a kid playing in his garage.
The factory sees 25,000 visitors annually and produces over 70,000 guitars a year. More than 500 workers have a hand in making these instruments, and without them the process would be difficult to say the least.
The pictures in the slide show matched the words being spoken, which was nice to see exactly what was being discussed. The viewer can see all of the stages of production, from the initial sanding and carving, to the “bookmatching” process that involves picking pieces of wood that are similar in color that will be placed on the back of the guitar. The audio component features interviews with those who are a part of the process, which broke up the narrator’s voice.
The best part of this slide show was the use of pictures and audio corresponding with one another in regards to the construction process. For a good portion of the slideshow, the audience can hear and see the sanding of the wood, the filing of the edges and the bending of the boards with no voice over. It’s as if you’re actually in the factory watching it take place. This added to the experience the viewer had and truly made this piece worthwhile.
The fact that this audio slideshow was about the creation of a musical instrument basically helped make the audio record itself. The tuning of the guitar, basic chords being played and other songs thrown in also added to the experience. This story could have easily been told through an article, but was done nicely as an audio piece, considering the topic on hand was an instrument.
Overall, audio slideshows have proven to be effective in telling a story in a new and interesting way.