There seems to be a trend afoot in documentary radio — working directly with musicians to compose music for a story. In fact, some producers are using music to tell the story, not just score it. That’s one hundred eighty degrees in opposition to standard journalistic practice of not using music at all. And, it’s pretty damn interesting.
“Kohn” by Andy Mills is a compelling example of this trend. (So, is Long Haul Productions’ “The Natural State” which we featured on HowSound a few episodes back.) Andy worked with Hudson Branch, a band from Chicago. They composed music to accompany and become part of the story about Andy’s friend, Kohn. Other people working in this vein are Charles Spearin and The Books.
Andy received the “Best New Artist” award from the Third Coast International Audio Festival in 2011 for his production. Well deserved, I’d say. And, RadioLab picked up the story and produced their own version. Andy’s version and RadioLab’s version make for an interesting comparison.
Speaking of comparisons, Kohn is accompanied by Hudson Branch as he sings a unique version of Grey Room by Damien Rice. Check out the original.
Have a listen and post your thoughts about music and documentary storytelling.
Help Transom get new work and voices to public radio by donating now.