Thursday, September 21, 2006

Beowulf Aloud

Back at the beginning of the summer, after recording a new course, A Way With Words: Writing, Rhetoric and the Art of Persuasion for Recorded Books, I went into the studio for a marathon session and recorded all of Beowulf in Old English.

I tried to read it dramatically without go so far as to adopt multiple voices, and I even sang Finnsburg. It was fun, but also one of the hardest things I have ever done. As exhausting as recording fourteen 35-minute lectures for a course is, reading all of Beowulf aloud and keeping up the energy level was even more work.

Then Matt Cavnar, the genius recording engineer and director who has done all of my courses for Recorded Books, edited the piece, taking out all of my stumbles and making me sound much better than I actually am.

Recorded Books will be publishing the Beowulf reading later this year, bundled in a special offer for one of their programs that hasn't been completely decided yet, but I retained the rights to sell it on its own, and I'm working right now to put together some kind of inexpensive and interesting package. I did a short lecture on Beowulf as well that goes before the reading itself, and the entire thing takes up three CDs.

So, you ask, where is he going with this?

I'd like to solicit suggestions for a few things:

a). What key information would you think would be useful to have on the liner notes (remembering that I have basically two small pages to work with)?

b). Do any of my readers know about podcasts and how to go about making them? I wouldn't mind podcasting some of the reading, but I have no knowledge in this area and pointers would be nice.

c). What other things do you think would be possible and interesting to do with Beowulf Aloud? How could it be useful to you in teaching or study?


zxsgupglahg said...

a quick search on podcasting; and the results:

Beginner's Guide to podcasts and podcasting

How to Create Your Own Podcast in Windows

for the notes; it would be nice to give a little extra information on names (their etymology, meaning etc.)

Fitz said...

Listened to RB Canterbury Tales recently and enjoyed it very much.

If you have access to an Apple computer, the application Garageband (included) has built-in capabilities that will allow you to easily create podcasts.

Lisa Spangenberg said...

See this:

Get a copy of Garage Band / iLife 06. Do one version of the pod cast in Gargage Band using the standard file for iTunes; then generate a generic mp3 version from that file.

You want the iTunes market, and the special features like chapter stops, but you don't want to disenfranchise the rest of the world.

Send me a copy so that I can annotate it as a QuickTime file, with the Old English text, and embedded links to Web pages.

Or read this:

Look at the stuff about Text tracks, chapter tracks, and Href tracks.

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Is the Beowulf recording available for purchase?

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

Richard Reitz said...

I dont know how feasible this may be, but could a version of the recording have a whispered English translation spoken just behind the Old English as an audio subtitle? Depending upon the translation, this might aid listeners who have little or no knowledge of Old English, but want to capture the original essence of the poem and still have an understanding of its meaning line by line. One problem that arises, however, is choosing the English translation that best fits a line by line recitation and translation.

m. smith said...

I recommend subtitles that would go along with the spoken aloud text. It is much easier to follow something, or even learn a monster such as OE if the text is right there with the voice file. I recommend adding any recent scholarship that would aid in the study of Beowulf in the liner notes. I would also comment on the role of the scop both within the piece and as an external reciter of the poem. The parallel between the two is interesting.

Ian Myles Slater said...

Given the limited amount of space for liner notes, perhaps the publisher (or Wheaton) would like the idea of putting more supplemental material on an updatable website. Which the former, at least, might be willing to regard as a promotional tool, and so worth providing in-house support for the technical and design side. Which would take a lot of the burden off you, so long as you get final approval of what is being said in your name.

Perhaps something like the site for the Norton Critical Edition of Le Morte Darthur, but with links to texts and translations, and its own, periodically revised, introductory bibliographies. And perhaps alternate readings, instead of Shepherd's errata.


m. smith said...

new movie beowulf and grendle is out to rent. very disappointing though!

The Chronicler of Mare Caelorum said...

You may find a visit to a PodCamp useful. I ran across this site some weeks ago, and was considering attending one of the northeastern events:

There are also New England area podcasting groups whose meetings I am considering joining as well (their links are lower down on the PodCamp main page).

P.S. If you happen to visit my blog and notice that this layman had the temerity to write an amateur review of a prose translation of Beowulf, just for fun, please keep in mind I make no pretense of being an expert. Any criticism/corrections welcome! :)