Best way to signal a section change in an audio book?
September 13, 2012 6:08 PM   Subscribe

In audio books, what's best-practice for signaling a section change within a chapter?

I'm about to go into the studio to start recording my novel "Brother Husband". I'm excited — but I'm having the damnedest time deciding on a way to aurally signal a transition within a chapter between two sections. I use these sub-chapter sections for a number of reasons throughout the book, with each chapter having four or so sections.

How do the best audio books accomplish these transitions? Is it with an extra long pause? A chime of some sort? Or something more subtle …
posted by silusGROK to Media & Arts (10 answers total)
[pause pause pause] (different tone, probably higher?) Section heading, if applicable. [pause pause pause] content.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:13 PM on September 13, 2012

Please, no chimes! Just a long pause, maybe change of tone or character voice to indicate. If you've written it so that it is obvious there is a change when reading, it should come out in the audio too. (Not an author, I just listen to a lot of audiobooks.)
posted by monopas at 6:26 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think a lot depends on how you use those section breaks. Are they very frequent? Do they mark major shifts in scene, setting, time etc? I think you need to re-read all those transitions from the p.o.v of a listener rather than a reader and ask yourself if the sense of a break is adequately conveyed just by an extended pause and a shift in tone or if the work you were asking the page-break to do is too subtle for that. If so, some kind of chime or short musical phrase or something might well be worth considering.
posted by yoink at 6:30 PM on September 13, 2012

Yes, long pause. If you've written each section with it's own tone, you can vary your voice slightly to convey that.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:30 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

If the sections have titles, say them slowly and emphatically, and change your tone in some way when you switch to the prose (for instance, either higher or lower). If there are no titles, just use a pause that's longer than you normally take between sentences or paragraphs.
posted by John Cohen at 6:39 PM on September 13, 2012

I listen to tons of audiobooks, and my favorite is just a long pause.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:10 PM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

I listen to a lot of audiobooks, and I also prefer the long pause. If it switches to a different POV character, the change in voice is intuitive.
posted by porpoise at 7:28 PM on September 13, 2012

I prefer a long pause in SF/F audiobooks.
posted by spunweb at 7:50 PM on September 13, 2012

If you don't want just a long pause, how about the sound of a page being turned?
posted by amf at 12:40 AM on September 14, 2012

The long pause was/is my first choice.

The sections aren't labeled, there's just a simple dingbat used between the paragraphs.

* * *

Something like that, in the manuscript — something fancier in the typeset version.

I wondered if there wasn't something that sound engineers do, as well — subtly killing a sub-aural white noise — to emphasize the transition. We'll see, I guess. :-)

Thanks everyone for confirming what my heart was telling me — that a larger than normal pause and an appropriate timbre in the voice afterwards should suffice.
posted by silusGROK at 9:14 AM on September 14, 2012

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