Audiobook Week – Sound Effects in Audiobooks

AudiobookWeekIt’s Audiobook Week and Jen at Devourer of Books is hosting daily discussion topics and giving away some great audio prizes.

Today’s topic is Sound Effects in Audiobooks.

Love them? Hate them? Take them or leave them? How do you feel about sound effects in audiobooks? Single narrator vs. multiple narrators vs. full cast, audio dramatizations, etc.

I usually really enjoy sound effects in audiobooks. When done well they can really add something special to the story being told. But when I say sound effects, I don’t mean whistles or back ground noises – they can actually detract from the story. The sound effects I enjoy are little musical interludes between chapters or signifying when the narration shifts viewpoint etc.

Juliet Naked by Nick HornbyOne of the most memorable uses of music in an audiobook for me recently was Juliet, Naked written by Nick Hornby, narrated by Jennifer Wiltsie, Bill Irwin and Ben Miles. I still haven’t got around to writing a review for this one yet, but I loved it. The cast of narrators was excellent and the guitar music really evoked the perfect mood for the story.

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Have you listened to an audiobook recently that used music to great effect?

While I particularly enjoy multiple narrators (makes character distinguishment easier), I have found some singular narrators are so good at characterization and voices/accents that you would think there are actually multiple narrators present. For example, in the audiobook version of Helen Simonson’s Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, narrator Bill Wallis‘ calming and measured delivery is a pleasure to listen to, seamlessly shifting between the gravelly voice of Pettigrew, the sotto voce of Mrs Ali and the easily distinguishable ensemble cast of family and villagers (listen to an audio sample).

Major Pettigrews Last Stand by Helen SimonsonI also particularly enjoy listening to books featuring characters from countries other than my own. For me, a narrator’s accent and colloquial timing and delivery can convey much better the author’s message than the non-accented voice in my own head ever could! Perfect examples of this include Yann Martel’s Life of Pi narrated by Jeff Woodman and Mohammed Hanif’s A Case of Exploding Mangoes narrated by Paul Bhattacharjee.

Do you enjoy listening to accented narration?

See where I get my audiobooks from…

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  1. I f done correctly especially with Thriller & Suspense novels it can actually place the reader right there at the scene.

    If mixed correctly it turns the audiobook into more of an Cinematic experience and this makes the purchase well worth it.

    Check out :Ace of Hearts” by Author Jean Holloway or logon to go to the Listening Room and click on Cinematic Trailer.

  2. I loooove audiobooks and prefer just having the words without sound effects. There have been a few where the added sounds were good, like water for elephants but generally I would vote against music.

  3. The view on accents is clearly divided. Although English is my first language, I studied a second language for many years, and grew up in an extended family where multiple other languages were also spoken, so I am very accustomed to accents.

  4. One of the things I love about audio books is that I don’t have to struggle with pronunciation of tough words or words in another language…I found that particularly helpful when listening to Jodi Picoult’s Plain Truth – the language the Amish speak is like greek to me!

    My answer to today’s questions can be found here.

  5. alming and measured delivery is a pleasure to listen to,

    I love that phrase – as this works for me as well – however that same quality drive my mom up the wall..

    Love that you highlighted musical interlude – those can be a real treat in very long books as well..