Audio Arts and Sciences

Nov 24, 2014

Bob Perez of Florida is annoyed with the soundtrack that accompanies programs on NOVA and other public television documentaries:

This has to do with documentaries like NOVA, sound and soundtracks. The soundtrack (NOT the dialogue and story line) but the music, drums, percussion instruments and sound effects that over the past year or so are being added to science shows and shows based on history and historical events. These sounds add NOTHING to the story.

This is NOT Hollywood. Leave these things to (Steven) Spielberg and (George) Lucas. They are someone's BAD guess at a technique to underscore the video images of the story. Television is a visual medium. Radio is a sound medium.

I might also suggest you preview these shows in a normal environment on a regular television and not a studio using Sennheiser headphones. You will begin to understand. And finally check the CPB demographic and their ability to hear. Probably NOT 20 year olds. These superfluous sounds become NOISE. If the story line for a documentary requires music and sound effects, search for another story that stands on its own.

I am losing my refuge from the trash we find on TV. Sadly, I change the channel, look elsewhere and then turn it off.

Alan Ritsko, the managing director of NOVA, provided this response:

The producers at NOVA take great care in selecting and placing all the elements that make up the soundtrack of each program. Much time is spent mixing the sounds together with the completed narration to create a blend and balance of sounds in the audio portion of the program that is pleasing to the majority of viewers. During the mixing process the work in progress is sampled by re-directing the soundtrack to speakers that approximate the tone and quality of the soundtrack as it may be heard by viewers watching the program at home.