Audio Analysis

“Lament for Joe Hall” begins with discordant buzzing sounds followed by the echo of police sirens. Immediately, without any words being spoken, the listener understands that a crime has taken place and the intensity of the cacophonous noises suggests that it was an especially heinous crime. The piece is narrated by a child voicing the part of Joe Hall and the detached deadpan that he assumes as he describes horrific child abuse, nazi rituals, and the killing of Joe Hall’s father is haunting. The voice acting conveys the hopelessness and impassive acceptance that one might feel if their entire life had been a continuous state of turmoil. The affect of the voice acting combined with the jarring guitar chords throughout the piece causes the listener to feel unsettled and disturbed.

Throughout the piece, the producer includes several audio clips that stand out from the narration and keep the listeners ear actively engaged. These clips also aid in establishing the tone of the sections of the story that they are placed in. Audio from white supremacist rallies trigger feelings of repugnance and cause the listener to feel sympathy for Joe Hall. The sound of wolves howling creates a foreboding affect and raises the tension as a dramatic scene is described. The use of what I would assume is the actual 911 audio of Joe Hall’s stepmother calling the police after he has shot his father captures the panic and dread of the scene in a way that voice acting alone probably never could. Telling this story in the audio format and filling it with emotionally affective voice acting, music, and sound effects allowed it to achieve a great deal of rhetorical effect by forcing the listener to visualize each scene rather than supplying them with images as would be the case in other formats.

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