I hope this is a proper forum for this question. If not, I would appreciate a pointer to a better place.

I would like to volunteer to do some narration of articles that are essentially in a "quote and respond" format. That is, there is a lengthy article that is being responded to, and the response largely takes the format of quoting the article at length and then responding. In text, of course, there are many ways to show the part that is being quoted-- text offsets, callouts, distinct font variations, etc. In audio, though, that's not so simple for a single narrator. I'd like to find a way to make it clear what a listener is hearing at any moment-- quote or response-- but I want to be very careful not to use techniques that might seem to bias the listener against either. That is, I want to maintain a neutral tone while making sure that, if the listener were to "drop in" or fast-forward to any part of the audio, they would know whether the reading was of the original or the response. Here are some ideas that I thought of but am not satisfied with:

  • Very quiet, neutral music or varying tone in the background during the quoted portions. This risks fatiguing the listener, maybe? I'm not sure.
  • Sound editing to alter my voice in a distinct but emotionally neutral way during the quotes. This may be beyond my skill as an editor. I've spent a few hours in Audacity and have learned a lot, but there is vastly more to learn still.
  • A brief explanation of the problem at the beginning of each narration episode. "Dear listener-- It is a challenge to present a quote-and-response text in an audio format because of reasons. Therefore, during quoted portions, you will hear <music, or a periodic tone, etc>." This is straightforward and hopefully lets the user know we're trying to be neutral and unbiased, but otherwise leaves the problem unchanged.

It may sound like I'm very new at this. That's because I'm very new at this. Thank you in advance.

  • 1
    The usual technical method: one voice panned 50% left, the other 50% right, not really mono compatible. The usual artistic methods: two different voice actors or one voice actor who uses two different voices. Background sounds or music would not be very clear and are more likely to confuse, I’d say. It might be that this idea is beyond your current voice and/or technical capabilities. Feb 4 at 2:57
  • It might be beyond me, but I'm open to learning. One of my motives for choosing this particular reading is because it's 10% too hard for me-- something I can grow into. The voices don't have to be that different... I don't have to do an Irish brogue and then Australian. Out of curiosity, do you have any suggested reading/viewing for "best practices" for academic paper narration?
    – Andrew
    Feb 5 at 17:44


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