Sadness (With recapturing of fear and some happiness through his love for his Grandmother)
The beautiful but war-torn country of Iraq has suffered for centuries. Still today this impact is felt across the world. Haider Catan a poet and PHD student at the University of Wollongong retells the pain that marks his memories of the past living close to Baghdad during the time of the Gulf War.
IN: “I grew up with war you know…”
OUT: “So painful… so shocking”
Music: ‘Desert Winds 1′ – Copyright free, bought for online non-commercial use from epidemic sounds.com.
JRNL102 Audio Assignment – Haider Catan
by Caitlin Ellis
I declare this work to be my own and that I have no plagiarised or used the material of others without appropriate reference.
I chose my talent because of the quality and texture of his voice and his philosophical way of speaking about his passion and enthusiasm for poetry. He is a published poet in Australia with a distinctively accented, articulate and ponderous manner as he finds exactly the right words. This part of his personal style that I wanted to capture conveys more than the print medium could.
The phrase it’s “Not just what is said but how it is said” (McHugh 2016) was an integral part of the reason I chose him. Previous conversations about his love of poetry sparked a fire that was audible and tangible which was my original intended topic. This was where I had difficulty, as we had previously discussed these topics when it came to doing the interview it wasn’t fresh and didn’t possess the same emotion. I realised I was trying to recreate something that had already happened which ‘This American Life’ producer Ira Glass suggests is not achievable (Ira Glass 2016).
So I had to search for another memory, however, I wasn’t prepared for what came next. In hindsight it would be better to become more experienced before interviewing a friend about the effects of war on their life. The whole journalistic exercise of encouraging talent to “narratise” a situation, as Ira Glass discusses in the Opera House podcast (2016), didn’t feel ethical at the time as it was evident that this was too distressing to revisit and I was aware of restrictions to not delve into seriously traumatic issues. His uneasy fidgeting in his chair can be heard in the recording. This experience taught me that responsibility and a duty of care to my interviewees and audience is paramount!
Due to my lack of experience, being friends and his nerves the conversation jumped around a lot. I cut nearly two hours of material and re-sequence it “for maximum narrative impact” (McHugh 2016) and to retain the meaning and integrity of what he was saying within the timeframe.
I used the instrumental flute piece ‘Desert Winds 1’ to add reflection, mood, pace and connotations of Iraqi culture and times past (McHugh 2016). Being instrumental it didn’t overshadow what was being said and faded into the background. I could cut, rearrange, blend and fade the music to rise and fall with the actuality, underline statements and to smooth the connection between the first and second sections of narrative (McHugh 2016). This was to create a duality of sadness and happiness between his reminiscence of his Grandmothers love with the horrors of war.
Reducing the music to be almost inaudible during reflective moments allowed room for natural speech patterns, breaths and to reflect on the gravity of impactful statements (McHugh 2016) such as “I feel like sick” and “so painful, so shocking”. In doing so I aimed to make a three-four second pause feel like thirty seconds compared with the quicker pace previously. This eliminated the need for the use of sensationalised sourced bombing sounds which would have trivialised the reality and severity of the raw emotion he confided to me.
I wanted the audience to imagine a hot but fertile area in Iraq. Every sound added was carefully researched for authenticity and had specific intention. I recorded actuality such as cicadas, flies, tea-making and a cigarette being lit using my Zoom H1 recorder and sourced sounds that were difficult to acquire like the Iraqi music, Arabic voices and local Iraqi birds and insects which I layered together to make both the environmental actuality and the market hustle and bustle.
In reflection, I have intuition for emotionally charged in depth pieces for the years to come but it was too big of an issue to cover in the time-frame.
Music – ‘Desert Winds 1’ purchased from http://www.epidemicsound.com/ for non-commercial online use with specified permission for use in student projects.
McHugh, S 2016, ‘Art and Craft of Editing’, lecture, JRNL102, Wollongong University, delivered 8 August.
McHugh, S 2016, ‘Music and Mixing’, lecture, JRNL102, Wollongong University, delivered 1 August.
McHugh, S 2016, ‘ ’, lecture, JRNL102, Wollongong University, delivered 1 August
Glass, I & Barnes, M & Bass, A 2016, Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host, podcast, 17, 18 July, Sydney Opera House, viewed 30 August 2016, <android smartphone>.