Category Archives: Audio

Happy birthday

I’ve been amused by the #15secondshakespeare phenomenon, so I was pretty stoked when it showed up as a daily create. I actually thought I was going to do a different old standard… but then, in honor of making another trip around the sun, I picked this one. Honestly, I’m kind of hoping it’ll go viral. Surprise your friends with it.

The music is “Go From My Window“, a 16th century folk song as arranged by John Dowland and performed by Frank Hiemenz, under a CC-BY license. (It’s really quite pretty when I’m not over-acting over it.) I dumped it into GarageBand and recorded my voice in another track. Lining up my voice at the end of the first phrase was a pretty clear choice; I had to fade the guitar down (further than I thought I’d need to) and adjust the spoken volume up a bit.

Your feet’s too big

Daily Create 1180 asked us to create a soundmap of our town. Instead of following the prompt as written, I picked one moment in my day – walking home in the early afternoon from a Krudas Cubensi concert at Kenyon College.

It was early April – the trees were starting to bud, and you can hear a light spring breeze blowing through the microphone at places. The birds have returned, and you can hear them chattering at each other. But it’s too early for the hum of lawnmowers, not warm enough yet for the drone of air conditioners. Gambier is a rural town; I think in the 6 minute walk you’ll hear 3 cars go by.

You’ll also hear my feet. Boy, will you hear my feet. I really thought I was holding my iPhone high enough to not get so much of that noise, but apparently not. So, there’s an excuse to learn something new – I opened up the graphic equalizer in GarageBand, turned on the analyzer so I could see where the frequencies of my footfalls lay, and turned those ranges down. They’re still prominent – it is a walk, after all – but I don’t think they’re as dominant as they were in the original.

This is my walk to work. I’ve probably taken it more than 4,000 times. But I usually take it with my headphones on and music or a podcast going, so I miss these sounds – which means I miss the chance to contemplate the seasons and the neighborhood. I appreciate TDC reminding me that there is value in taking a walk just to listen.

There goes the last DJ

I agreed to give a mini-workshop on podcasting on Wednesday, to force myself to learn more about Audacity. Creating a bumper for DS106 Radio seemed like a good way to get started, and it’s a manageable amount of work for a 20-minute demonstration.

Here’s the thing, followed by how I made it:

First, I wanted to know what I’d be saying. The old Outer Limits opening came to mind – “we control the horizontal, we control the vertical.” That speaks a little to the “own your tools” ethos of DS106.

But if “we” control it, that suggests that “you” (the listener) doesn’t. And that doesn’t sound very DS106 at all. ┬áSo I rewrote it, for a participatory audio culture, to be “Radio DS106 – You control the gain; you control the Auto-Tune.”

Then I went hunting for an audio track to mix in. A search for “sci-fi” on CCMixter┬áturned up a track called “Space Station Melody” by a member called Gurdonark. (For a 15-second bump on a non-profit radio station, you could probably make a fair use argument for whatever you wanted to sample… but it’s also a chance for me to model searching for Creative Commons-licensed material for my faculty.)

It’s kind of funny, come to think of it… the futuristic pinging of Space Station Melody is more reminiscent of the pizzicato opening of The Twilight Zone than the dramatic strings and horns of The Outer Limits.

Anyway, I recorded into Audacity, imported the Space Station Melody MP3, and arranged the voice track to the point in the music where I wanted it to start. I brought the volume of the music down a hair while I was talking with the Envelope tool, and used the Fade Out filter to get out. (And then trimmed off the end of the music.)

I owe a link of thanks to Nicky Memita for her post on this assignment, which was quite useful as I navigated Audacity’s imposing list of filters and effects.