Recently I accepted the opportunity to produce stories for Inside Appalchia’s Folkways Project (Public Radio). While the idea of finding interesting people doing exciting things, interviewing them, and then writing it up is pretty familiar to me, this involves sound.
Learning a new skill after one has been teaching for 20some years, writing for 15, and generally living life recycling and upscaling existing abilities in more pontificating and visible ways, can be…. Well, what word shall we use? A challenge? Fun? Humbling? Time-consuming to the point of losing interest in the newest installment of Bridgerton? Throw-things frustrating?
Yes, those words will do nicely. And now, thanks to some help from our friends Dirk and Martha Wiley, I know how to cut them, splice them, make them more equal in sound, remove background tics and other noises from them, and mix them into a multitrack recording.
But it isn’t easy. Think learning cut and paste long long ago, back in Microsoft Word: control c, control v, control y and z. Except, in the sound software, when you push control V everything highlights and then some sound lines disappear. Have they just gone for a coffee; will they come back? Push control y, and watch this big gaping hole distort with upping decibels until you realize what’s happening and yank your finger off the control. Perhaps that’s what y stands for.
Worst of all, there is the razor tool. You don’t have to push control r, just r will do. And if you should press it accidentally, it will still do. Again and again and again, slicing not only the line of sound you are working on (aka a “track”) but the ones above and below it, because after all you are multitracking. Not to be confused with multitasking. Let your concentration slip for one second to take a slug of coffee, turn your head to see why the dog is barking, and your entire clip is gone. G-O-N-Error message gone.
We’re not going to talk about what a cat walking across the keyboard can do. That’s five minutes of tape I’ll never get back again. The cat has been rehomed.
Sound is not quite like print, except it kinda is. The squiggly lines get bigger when someone is talking louder, and you can just about tell when someone is starting a sentence. You just can’t read the sentence, you have to listen to it. To help with this there are j-k-l. J goes backwards, l goes forwards, and k stops. So don’t panic and leave your finger in j while trying to catch where you should cut the tape, because you will hear every backward masking message you were ever warned about by censors looking for problems. And if you SHOULD panic and forget to remove your finger from j, you can eventually make up for it by clicking l three or four times. Which speeds up the forward progression. A lot. K-stop, but you’ll be five minutes up the road. Sorry, track.
This too shall pass muster. I will learn. Dirk is a good teacher, my motivation is high. Roll tape – no wait, go back…..