I got into storytelling very much through music, not through journalism. I was never good as a pure composer, but doing it in the service of storytelling somehow makes it so much easier. When you’ve got hours and hours of raw tape, it becomes a compositional exercise. To figure out what the story is, you try to approach it in terms of sound and texture. With musical composition, you want certain parts to be dense and others to be sparse. You’re thinking in terms of syncopation, beats, and rhythms. It’s very gestural, and it applies almost exactly to storytelling. Sometimes, you feel like a story is too regular, too metronomic. You can change a story’s “time signature,” so to speak, by creating little surprises and altering the rhythms on a micro level.
Jad Abumrad of Radio Lab talks with Boldtype.