My Vox Pop: the epic saga

Vox pop is short for Vox populi which is Latin for ‘voice of the people.’ For our first assignment in Community Voices we had to make a vox pop. A vox pop is a style of recording, where many people are quickly interviewed and edited together, usually based on a question from the producer.

I know I talked a little about collecting tape for my vox pop in another one for my posts; but there is a learning experience I never told you about.

That day was incredibly sunny, and it was really hard to see the display on the recorder to see what my levels were. When I came to put the tape onto my computer a lot of it was very hot, or loud. Once sound is recorded its levels can only ever be raised. “You can’t unbake a cake,” as Sarah puts it. Often sound that is recorded to hot is distorted, which cannot be edited out. Also, I realized that the hyper-sociability I often click into when I speak to strangers does nothing for sound recording. For one thing, my laugh can be very shrill; for another, it often ran over other people’s laughter, which often is very good sound to get.

I was so discouraged by all this it took me nearly another week before I could get into editing. Although some of it was more labor intensive than I expected, it didn’t take as long as I thought originally.

My question for my vox pop was inspired by my friend Cleo, who had begun a similar project, which she then recorded on her blog. For Cleo, the existence of grown-ups is not a foregone conclusion, and to explore this idea she began with the question that I ended up using in my vox pop; what do you want to be when you grow up?

I began my vox pop with the beginnings of a long interview I did with Cleo; she was very patient about my inexperience with the equipment and, honestly, it was just kind of fun to mess around with it a little. The next day I got some great answers in Yellow Springs. Looking back I can’t remember what the stress was like, even though I know it was stressful at times.

This is the final product, my very first piece, my baby, my vox pop.

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