Sunday, August 03, 2008

Skills from Shortwave

About a month ago, I purchased my first shortwave radio. It's not very big, but it can pick up quite a few so called "world band" stations. These are exactly what they sound like...special frequencies that carry radio broadcasts from all parts of the world.

There are many advantages to owning one of these devices, outside of the entertainment value they posses. One, obviously, is getting another perspective on events. Even news broadcasts originating from countries with which my own is not and the best diplomatic terms have English broadcasts on the shortwave bands. Hearing familiar stories from a different approach can be enlightening, even if one does not totally trust the sources. (Though sometimes they are more trustworthy than domestic news sources.)

Secondly, one is exposed to human interest stories in other countries. These are not exactly mind breaking, but are very culture specific events. Listening to what other nations and cultures find to be interesting, if not important, offers a very uncommon insight into other peoples and how the proceed within their world.

I have no directory to tell me what stations are found where on the dial. So when the commentary is not in English, I enjoy trying to guess what language I am listening to, based on cadences, words, pronunciation, etc. Even those broadcasts in English are often delivered by natives who speak English, and hence maintain a certain accent, which I try to guess. (Until they identify where they are, of course.) Either way, listening to other stations, both in English and in foreign languages offers great exposure to linguistic nuances such as cadence, accents, and in English broadcasts, varying word selection.

So, to review briefly, shortwave radio provides me with...

1)Different perspectives and thought patterns.
2)Glimpses at what makes other cultures tick.
3)Exposure to how foreign languages and their accents affect English.
4)An over all broader exposure to the differing cadence of language itself around the world.

What other possible endeavor might benefit from this kind of knowledge, I wonder...

Of course, in this context, the answer would be acting. I have said many times, as have others, that acting is, in essence, reflecting some aspect of the human experience. The more of the human experience we as actors are exposed to, the more depth any given performance can be. Shortwave is bit another venue which provides this.

Not that listening to shortwave in its own right makes one a good actor, of course. However, the listening to of dialects, linguistic rhythms, and more importantly, understanding of personal motivations from all sorts of different individuals as well as entire societies that I might not otherwise have much exposure to can, if embraced in the proper way, increase the well of humanity, if you will, from which I can draw to create future characters in any number of productions.

The world of the Internet and all it's cousins has made the world a smaller place, and connection to all of these things can in fact be made through same, there is no question. But there is something about radio broadcasting which gives that foreign connection and edgier, more humanistic quality which I enjoy. And acting is nothing, if it replaces simple daily human communication with endless, flashing graphics and websites with no meaning behind them.

So, once again, another endeavor has proven, (and will continue to prove) itself useful in my never ending question to become a better actor.

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