Blog 8: Tones and Layering

                The most obvious and apparent component to be heard in the Joe Hall piece is the voice that represents Joe.  This pre-pubescent person has a lot of very traumatic experiences to share with the listener, yet he manages to remain incredibly calm while doing so.  This affects the way the listener perceives Joe.  It gives off the impression that none of this phases him, which to any “normal” person sounds crazy.  It makes us think Joe is crazy.

                There is also the very first sound the listener hears in this piece.  It is a high pitched sharp sound that is not pleasant to the ear. Its effect is indicating that something strange or disturbing is to follow, which it does.  We hear this sort of sound multiple times throughout the story. 

                The author does an excellent job of using sound other than speech to describe the boy’s father.  While “Joe” is introducing him, we hear electric guitar playing a heavy metal riff.  This certainly gives off an appropriate vibe for the sort of person his father is.  This sound choice becomes even more appropriate when we later find out that his father would play white supremacist rock music in the house in an effort to “condition” his family. 

                Throughout the piece, the author does an excellent job of layering appropriate sounds behind narration.  Much like depth in a photo giving the viewer a lot to look at, great layering gives the listener a lot more to listen to.  When Joe’s father is first described as a white supremacist, a clip of someone yelling racist statements into a megaphone occurs.  When Joe goes into more detail about his father’s new “hobby”, the volume of the megaphone is decreased but can still be heard faintly.  Joe pauses, and the megaphone volume is turned back up to be the focus. 

                Another great use of layering occurs when he describes the night his father took him out to the border to try to shot illegals.  There are several sounds used to create the setting: a wolf howling, dogs barking, sirens, and a deep lower brass sound; all of which are meant to indicate night time and create a “horror movie” effect.  The author allows these collection of sounds to play before any speaking occurs in this portion in order to allow the scene to be set.  Then he lowers the volume of these sounds as they fade into the background of the boy speaking.