Old Dogs, New Ticks

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…..

The Road and the Miles yet again

Jack’s guest post continues the story of cars he owned – –

The first car I ever owned was an Austin ‘12/6’ (a big six), which I bought from a fellow apprentice house painter, Alan Mitchell, who was a couple of years older than me.

It was a 1936 model and I was in my late teens, so it must have been around 1959 when I acquired it.

Austin 12/6

It was a very up-market vehicle when it was made and had all sorts of desirable fitments. The windscreen had a handle to turn so you could open it for fresh air; The interior door caps and dash board were polished walnut; there was a sun blind on the rear window that could be lowered via a cord by the driver; there were folding down tables and foot rests on the back of the front seats also in walnut.

But – –

Although it had a reliable engine that started pretty easily it was getting a bit elderly and various other things were emerging. The tires were pretty worn and in the case of one, the inner tube was even showing. In addition, the muffler was developing a few holes. The UK government introduced mandatory safety inspections in 1960 and I couldn’t see a way to pay for having new tires and a new muffler fitted (even if they were still available for such an old car).

So, along with some friends who played in a jazz band, we had a glorious and musical final trip to a local coastal village where it was parked behind some bushes and we walked to the nearest bus stop.

I still remember it fondly!