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NLS Other Writings

Art and Science of Audio Book Production

Issued September 1995

Communication Art in Audio Book Production

Narration as Communication Art

It has often been said that narrating an audio book is an art, and to a great extent that is true. Narration is an art form related to acting and oral interpretation, but is neither. Rather, it is a niche in the performing arts that blends some elements of both. Ideally, narration is translating the written word to the spoken word in a way that is as consistent as possible with the intent of the author. At the least, it is
translating the written word to the spoken word in a way that is intelligent and agreeable to the listener. The task of reading aloud for the purpose of producing an audio book original master recording is called narration, and the person who performs the task of narration is called a narrator. Narrators are also frequently called readers because, after all, their task is reading aloud.

As a narrator, the late William Arthur Deacon, Toronto literary critic, tried to make himself "into a panel of glass through which the reader could see the book as if he held it in his own hands." Reading aloud, like singing, is something many people do, but only a few do well. Both require a good voice, a talent for using the voice, and a native ability to apply that talent effectively. The art of narration can be taught only to the extent of giving basic guidelines and techniques to one who has a talent for it. If talent is present, it can be enhanced, but if talent is not present, it cannot be taught. Good narration is a composite of four primary components and several enhancing factors.

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Posted on 2014-12-02