For your final project, you will create a podcast in which you will play and discuss 6-8 songs of your choosing for an uninitiated listener (that is, a Bollywood novice). The podcast should be organized around a central analytical theme or question which you will elucidate through your song choices and discussion. You should be prepared to provide expert guidance to your listener and enable them to learn something through your podcast.
In order to prepare for the podcast, you will create a detailed script; while not a formal essay, this written text will be the place to provide citations in ways that would perhaps be awkward in a podcast. I expect you to draw on the readings we’ve done in class; you may also need to do further research to fully develop your analytical theme.
This assignment will take place in several stages:
I. Podcast Proposal – Due 11/12 (note: this is a Saturday)
In a few paragraphs, discuss your preliminary topic. Why have you chosen it – what is interesting about this topic to you? What are some themes it may touch on? Some questions it may raise? Provide a list of a few songs that you might include.
Tip: I would recommend going back through the discussion questions that you and your fellow students have generated over the past weeks and posted online. Many of these are excellent and yet we haven’t had time to discuss them in class. Many of these questions would be perfect to explore in a podcast. Revisit, too, the themes that have marked our class conversations. (Given our class’ focus on music and the oral nature of the podcast, your theme shouldn’t/can’t be too visually oriented.)
Is Bollywood a medley of different cultures?
In what ways have movies represented national identity?
How has folk music in cinema evolved?
What’s the history of censorship and controversy over sexuality in Bollywood songs?
II. Draft script – Due 11/29 (for an in-class workshop)
We will be listening to professional music-oriented podcasts over the next few weeks to get a sense of how we might organize our podcasts, what works and what doesn’t. The script is the repository of your intellectual ideas, so do write out your observations and analytical points in depth. Include a bibliography of 4 or more scholarly publications and cite them in your script.
You might find Beaster-Jones’ Bollywood Sounds helpful here. In addition to the analysis contained therein, the back of the book also contains lists of songs and movies from each era.
Tips and Considerations:
- Think about a story you want to tell your audience through song
- How can you do this in a way that piques interest and that gets your listener to realize something about themselves??
- How much context do you need to include (about a song’s picturization, filmic context, the actors, actresses and singers, etc)?
- What does citation sound like?
- What voice do you use? How do you position yourself?
- How do you guide your audience in listening?
- How do you make it meaningful, not just fluff? (Here’s one my favorite blogs that combines the rigorous and the popular in ethnomusicological work: http://wayneandwax.com/)
Here is a mock, incomplete podcast script I threw together as a model: mock-podcast-script
III. Recording and editing your podcast
Remember, working with technology (especially programs you haven’t used before) can be surprisingly time-consuming. Give yourself enough time to get familiar with the recording and editing process – do NOT plan to record and edit the night before the podcast is due. I will be available next week for technical help – email me with your specific question and we can find a time to meet.
Before you start recording, practice reading through your script. Where do you stumble? Are there phrases that are awkward, sentences that are too long, or words that don’t feel natural to you? Make the necessary changes.
As you record, consider: How might you want to modulate your tone and pacing to keep your listener engaged?
Getting music tracks:
Your best bet is to buy the music from ITunes or another online music service. Try to get as high-quality a file as possible.
Recording: Devices and Programs
- There are a variety of recording devices that will allow you to record yourself. You can use the built-in microphone on your laptop or phone, or use an actual microphone, if you have access to one.
- The Music Library (upstairs in the music building) loans out high-quality audio recorders and microphones: http://music.library.cornell.edu/content/equipment
- For AAP students, the AAP IT Solutions desk loans out microphones and professional voice recorders: http://aap.cornell.edu/resources/computer-support-services/equipment-loans
- You can record straight into Audacity, or into QuickTime or GarageBand. Do several tests to find the optimal level and the optimal space to record in.
- This post has more advice about home recording spaces for podcasts: http://incomeschool.com/podcast-acoustics-room
- This site has straight-forward instructions on how to record and edit in Audacity: http://www.technorms.com/29516/how-to-create-and-edit-podcasts-audacity
- I recommend recording at 16 bits, 44.1 KHz, uncompressed WAV; or record in the highest-quality MP3 as possible.
You can record in several sessions or all in one go. You also don’t have to record in order – some folks recommend recording your Intro last after you’ve gotten more comfortable with the recording process. However! Make sure you save all your files and label them carefully so you can tell them apart.
- You’ll want to use Audacity to edit.
- This site is probably the most crucial as it describes how to integrate talking and music in Audacity: http://manual.audacityteam.org/man/tutorial_mixing_a_narration_with_background_music.html
- This one is also useful: https://theaudacitytopodcast.com/tap060-how-to-record-and-edit-a-podcast-with-audacity/
- Some effects you may want to use:
- Crossfade: http://manual.audacityteam.org/man/creating_a_crossfade.html
- You’ll want to export the final file as a 16 bit WAV file; the goal is to make it small enough that you can send it via DropBox, but still high-quality audio (i.e. not mp3).
IV. Submission and online-posting – Due 12/8
You will send me:
- Your podcast via DropBox (or a similar file sharing service);
- Your script
- A Reference List or Bibliography (including 4 or more scholarly publications plus any popular sources you have drawn on)
- A “Playlist” (song names, singers, year, movie, and music director) to be posted as a guide to the podcast
- A brief (5-6 sentence) reflection on the podcast (what you are most proud of, what was challenging, etc).
Our podcasts will be posted on the class site and be available to the public, unless you request otherwise. As part of your grade, you will listen to and comment on at least one other podcast.
In order to grade your podcasts, I will be listening for the following elements:
- Musical analysis – how effectively are you able to guide your listener in attending to musical details? How specific and/or effective is the language you use to do so?
- History and context – do you demonstrate an understanding of the historical and social context for these songs? How well do you communicate this understanding? (Remember, this is about quality, not quantity).
- Conceptual analysis – how interesting are the ideas you present? How effective and convincing is your overarching narrative arc? Do your song choices and narration cohere into a larger analytical whole?
- Medium – how well do you work within the podcast medium? Here, I will consider tone and narration style (see Rationale below).
- Technology – I do not expect these to sound like professional podcasts. Nonetheless, I will listen for the effort you put into recording and editing.
Learning should be fun. It should be driven by you (the student). And it should feel relevant to the broader world.
But seriously, folks. We live in an increasingly multimedia world; as such, we need to be able to provide information and analysis in multiple media formats. And we need to be cognizant of how content and analysis has to be modified to “work” in different formats and genres. This assignment therefore affords several opportunities:
- To move between media and build some audio media skills.
- To practice using a different “voice” than that required in an essay while maintaining intellectual depth.
- To generate and explore your own questions in depth
- To create a product that will “live” in the world. Who knows, perhaps a student in a future Bollywood Songs course will stumble upon your podcast and cite YOU!