The Grand Trunk Road - Recording Oral History Interviews

Content -v- Sound Quality

During our fieldwork, I often had to conduct interviews in a crowded room or in a public place with lots of bustling noise in the background. In such situations I did not have the luxury to consider the quality of my sound recordings, instead concentrating purely on the content. When we arrived in the village of Wesa in Pakistan, we were dropped off outside a chapatti take-away (image 1).


I ended up sitting on a charpoi in the same spot for several hours with my sound recorder permanently switched on. As I finished my first interview, I realised that word had got around and there were several gentlemen waiting to be interviewed. They had all migrated from Wesa to go and work in the textile mills and foundries in places like Bradford, Burnley and Sheffield, and had now returned to Wesa upon retirement. As one gentleman got up from the charpoi opposite me, another would sit down, introduce himself and start relating his ‘story’. It was too good an opportunity to miss, so I had to stay put.


The sound clip below features two British friends who were travelling around India. We met them in Amritsar when I asked them about their impressions of the very popular flag-lowering ceremony that takes place at the Indian/Pakistani border every evening (image 2). As you will hear, it was impossible to speak to the friends one by one. In their animated response, they talk over each other and finish off one another’s sentences. The only way to edit this into a sound clip was to keep both their voices intact.

Document icon Learning article provided by: Bradford Industrial Museum | 
Photos © Tim Smith

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