What's your favorite media to experience stories

I’ve long considered breaking down how people digest media, specifically for the telling of stories. Today I was finally inspired to start a thread by a potshot against graphic novels for not being as good as “real” novels in the OP of a completely unrelated thread.

There are several main ways that people experience or communicate stories: visually and/or orally, prima facie and/or symbolically*, author versus participant controlled**. Of course, different media can use more than one of these methods. Movies and TV combine visual and oral experiences and both are controlled by an author. People that only limit themselves to one media type of experiencing stories are missing new ways of understanding the world around them.

So which media combines them in your favorite way? Why do all the other combinations suck… I mean not appeal to you?

My preferred method is video games, but sadly I often lack the initiative to play for a long period of time since becoming a father, and incidentally, most video game stories suck. I still think that there is a possibility to engage a participant unlike any other media.

In response to the OP from the other thread, graphic novels are not inferior to words-only novels because they have pictures. They could possibly be superior to the other format because there are 2 ways to be experience a story instead of just one (prima facie visual plus symbolically visual). If most of the stories are about over-powered teenage male fantasies, blame the market not the medium.

*By symbolically, I include anything that is not immediately apparent to our senses e.g. written materials. The reader has to translate symbols on a page into a cognitive understanding of uh, something. All language based media would fall into this category. When watching Chinese television, I can understand the story visually but not through any of the dialogue which I can’t understand.

**By control, I refer to who sets the pace. Almost anything that requires time will be controlled by the author (songs, movies, etc.). Most static symbols can be understood and digested by the participant at their own pace without regard to the author (novels, poetry, etc.). Video games are guided by the author but ultimately controlled by the participant. If I want to stand Sonic to stand still, he might fall asleep but it is my choice.

I am a huge reader, and love it because I can make the pictures myself. But, by far, the best, most moving way for me to experience a story is through radio. I have been moved to tears more deeply and more often by a good radio episode than anything else.

This American Life is the gold-medal winner on this one, but there seems to be a limitless supply of good radio that I haven’t even heard of yet. I can’t wait :slight_smile:

Based on the thread title and the way the poll choices were worded, I went with Movies and TV.

I don’t understand the instrumental music choice at all. What stories are explicit there?

If I’m just wanting the story to make sense in an organized way, and primarily as an entertainment, movies and TV get the job done more quickly and without as much extraneous detail as books and longer forms.

If I’m wanting to get at “truth” and not be influenced by interpretations of facts and spin on their meaning I lean toward photographs, but with the knowledge that the photographer’s point of view is at the very least a commentary of sorts.

Flight of the Bumble Bee is very different than Moonlight Sonata. Each of them expresses some different type of emotion. There’s usually a beginning, a middle, and an end. I remember a techno song called Two phone calls and an air raid. It starts with a telephone ringing and a person answering. Then the beat comes in. It keeps building in intensity and then brings an air raid siren to match the beat. The beat then slows down (to catch its breath) and before the siren comes back. The song then ends with a phone ringing but nobody answers. Not necessarily great, but it is a story.

Disney try to create visual stories to match musical ones in Fantasia. There was already an underlying emotional play in the music itself. Disney tried to build on it.

I appreciate what you’re saying there, Wolverine, but the expression of an emotion, a range of emotions, or even an emotional arc, doesn’t connote “story” to my way of thinking. Stories have more going on than just the emotions they elicit. There’s the plot, the character development, the conflict, the actions of people or people-like entities to connect with.

One of the things that eludes my understanding most is when an instrumentalist will start into what all in the way of “story” some piece is supposed to call to mind. Even those pieces with obvious names like Fingal’s Cave Overture or The Firebird or The Sorceror’s Apprentice need the dance or the “book” to make any story obvious to me. And I’m also quick to miss the point with ballet and other dance forms. Emotions, yes. Story, no.

Tell me more to clear up this gulf of misunderstaning I have.

I’m hardly the person qualified to go into it. I only included it in the poll at the last second. My main purpose was to defend video games and graphic stories. The Far Side told great stories in just a single panel.

For me though, a musical story is a sequence of emotions or moods. It helps to be placed into a frame of mind (see the examples in my response), but I can provide one as well. Usually there is some type of main theme in the introduction that will appear throughout the piece, then something happens. The music could become light and cheery or energetic or contrasting to the mood from the introduction or maybe slow and melancholy. Other themes or snippets may appear. They could interact with the main theme or stay separate. After some exploring some different moods, the piece then resolves.

The hardest part I imagine for most people is that they either can’t hear the themes or they don’t connect emotions/moods with them. Even if you can do both of those, you still may not perceive it as a story (like you). That’s fine. However, everything you listed as part of a good story can be found in instrumental music as well. It’s just the characters are small repetitive pieces of music, hardly the best protagonists.

One of the best parts of a musical story is that each person uses the template of the music to create their own narrative.

Using “Two telephone calls and an air raid” as an example, there is the clear narrative of somebody answering a telephone, an air raid, and then no one answers the phone leading us to believe they are probably dead. However, what happens between the phone calls is in my imagination.

The first minute and a half the music keeps adding more layers. The person that answered the phone has gone outside and is interacting with different people in his city (neighbor, local grocer, etc.).

Then comes the first air raid siren and the beats don’t disappear right away. Maybe the people didn’t hear the siren. Maybe they think its a false alarm and go back to their everyday life.

Once the siren disappears, the music slows down and becomes quieter. People might have started to receive the news about an upcoming air raid. However at the 2:40 mark a nervous beat enters. Perhaps the protagonist realizes the danger and is trying to find shelter. This beat persists after the second air raid siren starts.

Then halfway through the second siren, the tempo picks up considerably. The bombs are falling and people are in chaos running around, trying to survive. Some of the original themes comes back as the protagonist meets some of his old friends on the street. Then at 4:15 almost all the beats disappear and it gets quiet and eery. The telephone rings and we learn the protagonist is dead.

You forgot roleplaying games, esp. open ended online roleplaying games like they have in Second Life and (to a much lesser extent generally) World of Warcraft and its ilk. Nothing else even comes CLOSE. I have completely lost interest in TV series, movies and so forth because of it. Only the very best novels by the very best writers can match it. And there arent’ a whole lot of those.

I wasn’t sure what to do with social and communal media, story arising out a group. Stories that are built on the work of someone else would also apply here (Continue the story/ And then…). While not explicitly stated, this poll is from the perspective of a consumer and not a creator. My OP was already getting pretty long and I had to make a distinction somewhere.

In any event it’s an incisive and intellectually interesting topic, and I’m sorry more Dopers didnt see fit to respond, but the level of discourse you get in Cafe Society doesnt tend to match what you get in Great Debates or IMHO for some reason.

I’ve always enjoyed examining why we like certain things and was hoping to reach a broader audience than just movie/TV show of the week.

[hijack (can you even hijack your own thread?)] When I was young, I loved comic books but knew that adults dismissed them as childish. I assumed I would grow out of the format when I grew older. As I matured, I realized that the format is just fine; it’s the stories being told that have affected people’s perspective. The graphic format can do things that an author only wishes she could do in a novel. One of the interesting titles that I followed for a while tried to mix the two styles even farther, Thieves and Kings.

Sometimes it was mostly in traditional comic book format, but often the author took up half the book with a short story tangentially related to the main story. He would then include small pictures around the border of the text highlighting some of the action. For me, it was a good story and a compelling experiment. [/hijack]

I went with prima facie visually, because I love fine art.
A close second would be prima facie orally, although here, in addition to instrumentals, I’d include lyrical works in languages I don’t understand (Mystere de Voix de Bulgaire, some Dead Can Dance or a Bollywood soundtrack, for instance) and glossolalia (Cocteau Twins, Sigur Ros)