Exploring a Close Reading of Sound in “The House on Loon Lake”

The House on Loon Lake seamlessly flows from sound and story to just story in a way that triggers an anxious response. Even from the beginning, the upbeat music which characterizes a light-hearted retelling of their youth before going into the house fades after their digression is over back into silence when all we hear is the main narrator’s voice bringing us back into the mystery. The absence of sound, in this way, produces just as potent an effect as the presence of sound.

When the men go into the house in the story, deep, vibrating hollow tones play in the background to add a sense of fear. This sound scape fades into another one, with a more active melodic line, that plays alone without the presence of voices. This contrasts to the previous soundscape because the men are no longer joking with each other (despite the scary music) and are silent as just eerie music plays. This catapults the listener into a tense state, wondering if something will happen soon in the story to heighten the stakes for the narrators.


This, too, fades into silence.

The juxtaposition of a percussion beat and eerie music is interesting, and maybe allows the listener to relax as the narrators talk about what they find in the house, though it never completely lets you forget that the untouched nature of this house from the 30s is strange and wrong in some way.

When they leave the house, we hear a heightened soundscape of percussive music without the eerie background, perhaps to show that while they are out of the danger of the house (no more eerie music), they still carry reminders from being inside of it, thus the percussion continuing outside of the house as well.

The piece is long, but the soundscapes intertwine throughout it to provide a reading that could almost stand alone without the words. Anxiety is heightened and reduced as different sounds fade into each other and fade into silence.

Sound is a choice. It produces an effect and is selected for that effect. It is not just meant to enhance the story but it can become the story. The voice is sound as well. This entire telling of the House on Loon Lake is an aural recording. Sound literally is the entire story. The multiple voices of multiple narrators makes the story feel all the more real because we can hear each character. The soundscapes in the background illicit biological responses from the listener. The reenactments in the background of the continuing narrative. All of these effects work together to weave a full picture, an entire scene that captures multiple senses. Sound enriches a story in a way that words alone cannot.






~ by kristinvermilya on March 17, 2013.

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