I Wish

IWISH_featured

Intro from Jay Allison: Part audio, part mail art. Samantha Broun's idea was to collaborate with people - through the mail - by asking them to record responses to the question, "What do you wish for?"

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Listen to “I Wish”

About I Wish

Last June I made a deal with myself – to stop talking about my interest in audio pieces and to start making them. “I Wish” is my first audio piece.

“I Wish” is part audio, part mail art. It was inspired by a call for a mail art show a friend of mine put together, the theme of which was “Wishing Machine.”

I Wish logo

My idea was to collaborate with people – through the mail – by asking them to record responses to the question, “What do you wish for?” I started by making five pieces of mail art, each of which included a mini disc, an invitation to collect wishes and a small card with prompts on it. I sent “I Wish” packets out to five people – who I knew to varying degrees – across the country.

Three out of the five people sent their mini discs back to me filled with the wishes they had gathered. I used their wishes, along with those I had collected, to create “I Wish” – an audio collage of aspirations and longings.

Thank you Lori, for putting together the mail art show that provided the seed and the inspiration for this piece. Thanks to Sarah Cross, Dharma Dailey and Cat Puente (of Radio Rookies in New York City) for their willingness to collect wishes. I admire Sarah’s ability to get those she interviewed to share their most intimate wishes; Dharma’s ability to inspire and allow stream of consciousness; and Cat’s adept interviewing skills. Cat’s bits are the anchors to the piece in the beginning, middle and end. I am equally grateful to all those in San Diego, Washington D.C., New York, and Providence who were brave enough to share their wishes and I appreciate their willingness to deposit their wishes into this wishing machine. Thanks Box for listening in all sorts of ways. And finally, thanks Mom, John and Dad for all your support.

The music. Ah, the music. I used three different pieces of music to accompany the wishes. The first piece, “Deep Purple,” is from an obscure album called “Travelin Light – Cookin’ with Frank and Sam.” It’s an album of tuba and guitar duets. Who would have known? I like the mood it sets. The second piece, called “A Wish,” is by Nubian artist Hamza El Din. The song is his wish for the return of his childhood village which was submerged – for political reasons – under water. The last piece of music is the great Aretha Franklin singing, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” This recording is from her “First 12 Sides” album. She was barely eighteen years old when she recorded it. “Someday I’ll wish upon a star, and I’ll wake up where the clouds are far behind me.” Mmm mmm mmmm.

Tech Info

I don’t know that I have much insight to share in the production and technology department. My mini disc recorder – a Sharp MT877 – was given to me as a birthday gift. Thank you, Jamie. And thank you for all the research you did on which MD recorder to buy. It’s great! My microphone is a Shure SM58. I bought it because I was told it was reliable, that it had great sound and was indestructible. Check, check and check! As far as software goes, I use Audacity. It does the job and best of all, it’s free!


Additional support for this work provided by
Open Studio Project
with funding from the
Corporation for Public Broadcasting

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  • Jay Allison

    5.24.05

    Reply
    I Wish

    We chose this piece not just because it’s a from a first-time producer (Transom’s People), but because the concept is so simple, radio-friendly, and well-executed. Here’s Samantha Broun to tell you about it:

    "Last June I made a deal with myself – to stop talking about my interest in audio pieces and to start making them. "I Wish" is part audio, part mail art. My idea was to collaborate with people – through the mail – by asking them to record responses to the question, "What do you wish for?" I started by making five pieces of mail art, each of which included a mini disc, an invitation to collect wishes and a small card with prompts on it. I sent "I Wish" packets out to five people – who I knew to varying degrees – across the country. I used their wishes, along with those I had collected, to create "I Wish" – an audio collage of aspirations and longings."

    Listen to Samantha’s piece, see her mail art on the SHOW page, read more background on the process, and talk about it all here.

    (NOTE: The piece is also available for broadcast to public radio stations at the PRX: http://www.prx.org/piece/4678)

  • Keith Brand

    5.28.05

    Reply
    I wish

    Jay,

    I enjoyed this piece. I will probably use it as an example for my own audio students on how a simple idea can tell such a great story.

    I’m curious on how the copywright issues were dealt with on the music used in this piece, since you’re making it available to radio stations.

    Keith Brand

  • Jay Allison

    6.01.05

    Reply
    music and movement

    The piece is Samantha’s, not ours, but music rights are covered for broadcast by public radio’s agreements with the music publishers. Issuing a piece like this on CD would be a different story.

    Samantha, I’m partial to the collage form and this one has a strong conceptual frame. The problem is often in maintaining forward motion. And in ending. How did you think about the movement and conclusion in arranging elements? How did you decide when it was FINISHED?

  • Samantha Broun

    6.01.05

    Reply
    Gut

    Making this piece did feel very much like making a collage (which I have done before in 3-D but not in audio) and composing music (which I’ve never actually done). I had all the raw tape of wishes people sent. I listened. I listened again. I captured pieces I thought I might use and then I played with them. I shuffled wishes around giving some (but not a lot) of attention to the juxtaposition in age, ethnicity and gender of the speakers. I also paid some (but not a lot) of attention to the juxtaposition of wishes themselves – what the wishes were for and the feelings they evoked. There were some combinations that felt alive and, as Jay said, full of forward motion. And then there were combinations that felt flat and brought any forward motion to a screeching halt. The music helped determine the length of the segments. In addition, the music helped set a mood for each section. Interestingly, I didn’t received Cat’s mini disc (the young woman from Radio Rookies) until the day before I finished the piece. As soon as I listened to what she sent, I knew that using bits of her interviews would provide strong anchors to the beginning, middle and end of the piece. The last thing I’ll add, and maybe I should have said this first, I used my gut.

  • Muriel Murch

    6.03.05

    Reply

    Very dear,
    I’m sitting in an apartment in NYC, wearing headphones to block out the road works below. Listening to wishes was, for me, a wonderful example of just a wonder, an idea and audio, sometimes, more often than not, the best kind of radio.
    MAM

  • Christina Antolini

    6.04.05

    Reply
    More about the music…

    Hi Samantha-

    You mention above that the length of your chosen pieces of music helped you determine the length of each segment… Did you choose your music first and then sift through the wishes you’d collected to see what belonged where, what wishes fit "Over the Rainbow" as opposed to the middle eastern piece in the middle? I’m curious about the process of it.

    As a semi-recent Salt Institute grad, I hope you have an excellent time there next semester!

  • Samantha Broun

    6.05.05

    Reply

    I love imagining you in NYC, perched above road work going on below, headphones on, listening to “I Wish.” Thank you, Muriel.

  • Samantha Broun

    6.05.05

    Reply
    More about the music…

    I would say putting the music and the wishes together was not as neat and clean as that. I had ideas about pieces of music I wanted to use before I started. I knew I wanted to use Hamza El Din’s piece because it is a wish itself. I also knew I wanted to use some version of “Over the Rainbow” and played with three or four versions until I decided on Aretha’s. I played around with the wishes and the music separately and together. Some of the wishes did sound more appropriate over one piece of music than another and so I shuffled them around. In terms of the length of each segment, in the first section the wishes, more than the music, determined the end. In the second section, I wanted to hear just a hint of Hamza El Din singing “A Wish” before ending the section. And, for the last section it seemed that Aretha’s version of “Over the Rainbow” was short enough to use the whole thing. It also felt to me that it brought the piece to a natural end. I don’t know if this gives you any more insight into the process. To use Jay’s analogy, it really was like making a collage…moving the pieces around until it made a whole that felt right and complete.

  • Sydney Lewis

    6.13.05

    Reply

    Any piece that can comfortably contain the desire for a cool new notebook and world peace is OK in my book. You’ve got a good gut. I’ve listened to I WISH a couple of times and each time it evokes all kind of images, some having nothing to do with what I’m hearing. Today it may be because it’s 80+ degrees, but while listening Mr. Softy truck chimes floated through my mind — associated with a childhood memory and no doubt a wish. What I strongly felt each time through was a sense of happiness and hope. Good medicine. Are you in there wishing? I have no other questions – your response to Jay’s post was fulsome. Just want to say thanks for sending a lovely floating piece through my ears. Look forward to hearing more from you.

  • helen woodward

    6.13.05

    Reply
    audible smiles…

    this piece sounds on the face of it quite simple, but it encompasses so much. all those hopes and dreams bound up together with great music… you could almost hear the smiles of the wishers, at being asked this simple optimistic question.

    now some questions for you… you mentioned that you had wanted to make a radio piece for sometime, had this subject matter always been on your mind, or was your friend’s show the only prompt? what was the most difficult part of making this, once you actually started?! now that it is up here for all to hear, does it sound different to you, would you have done anything differently? finally, any thoughts for your next audio piece?

    thanks again for an uplifting submission. good luck at salt.

  • Samantha Broun

    6.15.05

    Reply

    This piece was definitely inspired by my friend’s show. The ‘call’ for pieces on wishes was perfect in that it gave me a topic and a real deadline to work towards. You asked what was difficult once I got started. I would say coming up against my learning curve with the editing software. I’m not a read-the-directions kind of person. I learn by doing. And so at times there were things I wanted to do with the editing that I wasn’t sure how to make happen. In terms of how the piece sounds now that it’s up on Transom…it does sound different and I’m not quite sure why. I’ve loved experiencing the piece in different venues…listening through my headphones, listening to it on a stereo, listening to it by myself or with a group of people. And so yes, it is different to hear it on the Transom site. As for my next audio piece, hmmmm. I’m definitely drawn to making pieces that are more collage-y than narrative. I have a few ideas. Some ideas are simple like "I Wish" and others are more extensive audio portraits of people or events. I’ll have to let you know which idea floats to the surface next. Thanks for asking.

  • Sam Grabelle

    6.28.05

    Reply
    Never knew she was so talented…

    This is Sam G – a former colleague of Sam B’s (neither of us is totally comfortable with Samantha and I grew to love her calling me Geee as I called her Beee).

    I just want to say how glad I am to know Beee and to have gotten this opportunity to see (hear) another component of her beauty. "I Wish" is as powerful as it is soothing, it is as scary as it is silly, it is the answer to a wish that we lived in a world where we could say what we wish for without feeling selfish or offering up cliche Miss America answers.

    I am working on a "collage" piece myself right now (poetry mixed with storytelling and theater) and am now feeling really inspired. Thank you Beee – Love Geee

  • William Wolfe

    7.15.05

    Reply
    Peace and Carrots

    For the last few hours I’ve been going through the Transom Podcast stories, and although they have all been (to my ears) unusual and engaging, in many of the cases I’ve been left with the feeling that I am lacking some contextual information that might help me to feel as though I am drawing some meaning from the things I’m hearing. Like, maybe if I was a trained journalist or was involved in the realm of radio and audio art, or whatever else, my appreciation for the ideas conveyed in the work would be greater. I’m not in radio at all, or the radio business, I’m just a college guy, so… I don’t know.

    But anyway, after listening to your piece I began writing a couple of posts to tell you how much I enjoyed it, but I couldn’t think of anything to say except that it made me feel happy. But now, I think that what I like so much is the fact that the essential context within which your "I Wish" was made is one of empathy. It’s just such a revealing question, and reavealing of, I don’t want to say the best, but maybe most sincerely endearing parts of people. Both the sadness of their vulnerabilites and their tearful, smiling hopes. So thanks, and congratulations.

    I see that no one has posted in a while, and I don’t know if you’re checking this website anymore, but I guess I’m sort of wondering about how you concieved of this project at its inception. That is, why did you decide to make this particular piece as it now stands, what was behind the decisions you made about it? Why the "I Wish" format at all, why is this subject matter appealing to you?

    (okay okay, I know that this is a ridiculously broad question, so, I don’t know, answer it however you like. Or if you’re wishing that people would just leave you alone, don’t feel oblilgated to answer at all)

    Thanks again and good luck.

    PS. that part where the girl is wishing that she wasn’t late was great, there were a lot of great parts really, but I liked that one.

  • Samantha Broun

    7.15.05

    Reply

    Thanks for listening and thanks for writing, William. I think you may be able to find answers to a lot of your questions in the short blurb I wrote about "I Wish" on the Transom website. The topic of wishes, or more specifically wishing machines, was something a friend of mine came up with as a topic for a mail art show. So, the topic picked me, I didn’t pick it. However, the topic did immediately appeal to me because as I began to think about how I might respond to the question, "What do you wish for," I realized the huge range in responses I might give. You can hear the range in the wishes in the final piece. Some wishes are selfish, some selfless; some are time sensitive, others are timeless; some are for material things and others more spiritual. You catch my drift. No matter what, each response reveals the wishers’ human-ness.

    I love the wish of not being late as well. Another favorite of mine is the boy who wishes for a new notebook and a cool pen. I was the interviewer on that one. The reason I like it so much is because he thought long and hard about his response before giving it. Afterwards, I realized that he thought I might actually grant him his wish. He took his time in wishing because he wanted his wish to be for something reasonable.

    Anyway,keep on listening!

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