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close this bookRecording and Using Indigenous Knowledge: A Manual (IIRR, 1996, 211 p.)
close this folderPart 2 Recording and assessment methodologies
close this folderAudio-visual media
View the documentCassette documentation
View the documentParticipatory video
View the documentPhoto/slide documentation

Cassette documentation


Recording interviews, group discussions, meetings, music, stories, dramas, and natural sounds with a cassette recorder.


To record stories, dramas, folklore, rituals, and other information and dialogues which can be developed, preserved, and reproduced for dissemination.


- Two cassette recorders
- Cable to connect the two recorders together so you can record from one to the other
- Cassette tapes
- Microphone
- Batteries
- Paper
- Pens

Possible approach

Sound recordings can be used in many different ways. The process below describes how to make a simple audio program that you can use in a training course or play over a local radio station. Some radio stations might also be able to do the recording and editing for you.


1 Identify a situation in which the use of a sound recording can help (For example, the villagers might be preparing for a meeting which will reveal an indigenous organization's key features. Information about the organization could be used by people in other villages to improve their own organizations.)

2 Identify your target audience. Think of their characteristics (age, sex, income, location, attitudes, knowledge of the subject, etc.). Decide what types of information they already have, and what types of information they might respond to.

3 Set your objectives. What do you want the audience to think, feel or do after they have heard your recording?

4 Review any available audio recordings and references related to your topic.

5 Prepare a topic outline and a draft script.

6 Test your tape recorder to make sure it works.


7 Make it clear to everyone that you are making a recording.

8 Discuss your objectives with the participants or actors.

9 Start recording. You can record interviews with local people (try to find a place with as little background noise as possible). Ask each person to say his or her name at the beginning of the interview. You can also record music and "wild sound"—the background noises of a festival, meeting or community that make the recording sound realistic.

10 Regularly check to ensure that the recorder is functioning and that you have sufficient tape.


11 Review the recording and label the tape—event, date, duration.

12 Review the tape and "log" it: write down the counter number at the beginning and end of any segments that you would like to use in the finished program. For those segments, transcribe what each person says so you know exactly when to start and atop the recorder while editing.

13 Revise the script and incorporate the interview segments and wild sound.

14 Record the narration (if any) and music onto separate tapes.

15 Using two cassette recorders record the narration, interviews, music, and wild sound in the right sequence onto a clean tape. If you have sophisticated equipment, you can add music or wild sound in the background.

16 Pretest finished tape with your target audience to assess your recording's effectiveness. Assess their reactions. Did they agree or disagree with the statements made? Did the tape generate a lot of discussion?

17 Use the tape in training or for radio broadcast as planned.


- Cassette documentation is an easy and useful recording tool, especially in communities with an oral (story-telling) tradition.

- Recordings can help preserve, disseminate, and promote IK in the language of the target audience.

- They can enliven an illustration, photo, or slide show, or be used in video or radio programs.

- Recording a meeting or interview can enable you to go back over what was said later.

- It can be used to record the local language and possibly serve as part of a language tutorial.

Dos and don'ts

- Avoid creating distraction while recording.

- Avoid interrupting people you are interviewing. Ask them questions that need more than a yes/no answer. And encourage them to say more by nodding and smiling rather than by saying "yes" or "uhhuh."

- If possible, record in the natural setting of the subject or event. But try to avoid overly noisy locations (such as near a market or passing traffic). You can select a microphone that will eliminate much of the background noise (ask a specialist in an audio shop to help you with this).

- Store cassettes in well-ventilated areas, protected from dust, humidity and insects.

- Don't record too much. It's easy to make hours and hours of recordings that you'll never listen to again.


You can also record your own ideas and comments on cassette. A pocket microcassette recorder is particularly useful for this if you cannot write your thoughts down (for instance, if you're riding in a car). Remember to transcribe the cassette as soon as possible afterwards 50 you do not forget the context.

Compiled by Anna Reylene J. Montes