© 2014 ellathompson


Listen to the first 10 minutes of Glenn Gould’s radio documentary, “The Idea of North”.

The idea of North 10min.wav or Files are here (experimenting with different sizes and file types) If possible, use headphones.  Record your impressions in a paragraph or two.

I’m not really sure what this radio documentary is about. A lot of things happen at once and change too quickly.

I found myself listening more to the subjects’ voice tones and inflexions and things when speaking, rather than listening to what is actually being said. I found the woman to be the easiest to listen to. I think because she speaks slowly and with a lot of expression in her voice. But I couldn’t properly grasp onto what she speaks about. A river… Ducks… Geese…

Then things are made even more abstract with the overlapping voices recounting their memories. I didn’t know who to listen to, and it was confusing. I couldn’t process much. Except for their voice tones.

Almost all of the subjects share anecdotes. Even the narrator / documentary-maker recounts his stories. The only person that – I don’t think (unless I missed something) – doesn’t do this is “Wally”. When Wally speaks, the elusive radio piece is finally given a space of sounds – atmospheric train sounds and chatter and things. Pointing in the direction of the subject of this doco to be involving travel. But it still wasn’t enough. I still didn’t know what was going on. The furthest I got with understanding the piece is that it is something about a preconceived idea of a place. Or about travelling to a place. 

I liked some of the poetic parts of this documentary. The overlapping voices section is intriguing. The subjects recounting their memories is also interesting. I particularly liked listening to the expression in the woman’s voice when she is talking about her memories. But the piece didn’t give me enough clarity. I found this radio documentary to be unclear – a little too unclear to be enjoyable.


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