Jean Simmons’ wonderful turn as the Salvation Army worker who just had her first drink in Frank Loesser’s Guys And Dolls. And, of course, Marlon Brando, in one of the oddest casting decisions for a movie musical, as the leading man, gambler Sky Masterson.
The world lost a wonderful magician this week. The above video is by no means Ricky Jay’s most baffling trick, but in some sense it is one of his most quintessential. Who else but Ricky Jay would think of pulling this off this way.
Jonathan Swift’s brilliant satirical proposal regarding the dual problems of poverty and famine still feels fresh and apropos. Here’s a version I performed and produced that was broadcast yesterday on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI 99.5 FM NYC.
Thanks to my readers here for putting up with my seemingly interminable series on producing radio interviews. But now I have compiled and updated that series into one convenient 50+ page booklet which you can download for free here:
I think it’s a pretty good way to start learning about interviewing technique, equipment, and editing for radio or podcast. It assumes you know nothing about radio and takes you from wondering about who to interview to the finished mixed audio file with bells and whistles. If you think you’d like to make a go at it, or are just curious, or would just like to see if your advice matches my advice, it’s all there in one convenient free booklet.
Once in a while, we here at Shalblog Industries® allow ourselves a political post. In the spirit of Shalblog Industries®’ policy of being all things to all people, however, this post will be merely descriptive rather than prescriptive.
The one incontrovertible fact about life in the United States is this: the standard of living that capitalism allows is built on the misery, torture, destruction, exploitation, and killing of millions of people around the world.
That one simple fact is really the centerpiece of our existence.
It’s a fairly impossible fact to live with.
How could we wake up every morning and function with that on our shoulders? The Shalblog Industries® Theory of American Political Ideology is simply a catalogue of the various strategies used to cope with this central fact of our existence. The style of denial a person chooses determines whether one is a conservative, fascist, neo-liberal, liberal, socialist, pacifist, anarchist, etc., or combination thereof. (And yes, certainly vice-versa is true as well—one’s political stance determines one’s denial technique.)
Why one person chooses one strategy and another person chooses another strategy is not something Shalblog Industries® is authorized to discuss right now. Our aim here is much more circumscribed. In this post we will merely catalogue the varieties of coping.
Without further ado: A Child’s Garden of Denial
1) Outright Rejection. “You’re lying. No one’s dying. At least not to make my life better.”
2) The New World Order Acceptance. “Yes it’s absolutely true–and that’s the way it must be. It’s right that people—my inferiors—should live to serve me, their superior.”
3) Life is a Game. “It’s unfortunate, but that’s life. There are winners and losers, and the losers haven’t done enough to become winners.”
4) Family Is Everything. “Life is hard enough as it is; I can’t worry about others, only myself and my family.”
5) As The World Turns. “Things will turn out all right in the end. The world is evolving slowly in the right direction. Patience.”
6) Poor Little Me. “Yes there is much injustice in the world, but I do not have the power to change things.”
7) I’m On It. “Yes, there is so much injustice in the world, and I am working to change it.”
8) It’s So Confusing. “Yes, there is so much injustice in the world, but what happens away from these shores is murky and vague to me.”
9) Not My Department. “Yes, it may be that people are not being treated well, but I’m not a political person.”
10) Pretty Please. “I see that there are injustices in the world, and if only we can get some people to be nicer, the world could be better.”
11) It Is What It Is. “This is what life is, unfortunately. No one said that life is fair.”
12) Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There. “Yes, it’s all terrible, but I have no idea what to do about it.”
13) The Beard Stroker. “Yes, it’s terrible, and if we study long enough and deeply enough to try to understand, then we can change things.”
14) God is Good.“The way things are right now is all going according to God’s will.”
15) Counter-Insurgency. “There are bad people who are spreading rumors that are just untrue. We must stop those people who are saying such things.”
16) I Gotta Be Me. “It may be true, but no one can function in everyday life with that knowledge in one’s rear-view mirror all the time.”
17) You Talkin’ To Me? “I am not the victimizer, I am the victim.”
18) The Artiste. “I’ll write a blog post about it.”
First, select each track that you want to include in the mix by Command-Clicking in the left hand area of the track (Command clicking allows you to select more than one track at once). The three left hand portions of the selected tracks will now be highlighted:
Now go to the top menu and click on Track—>Mix—>Mix and Render to New Track
What you’ll find is a new track at the bottom which is the amalgamation of the other tracks you’ve selected to mix:
There it is, your completed track!. Now all that remains to do is to export it into a convenient format for broadcast. Typically, that would be an MP3 file. So select the final mix track and then from the top menu, click on File—>Export—>Export Selected Audio. You’ll get a dialogue which allows you to rename the file and choose its destination on your computer. You’ll also see, at the bottom, a section which looks like this:
Set the File Type to MP3 Files, Keep the Bit Rate Mode to Preset, the Quality to Extreme, the Variable Speed to Standard. For saving mono files such as the ones we’ve been working with, select Joint Stereo. If you have been working with stereo files then you would choose Stereo. Click on Save and you’ll be presented with one more screen which you can ignore and just click on OK.
And that’s it. You should have an MP3 file which will pay in iTunes or any other standard music player.
I know this has been a long and sometimes technical tour, but the more you play around with this, the more you will be excited by the possibilities. It’s really amazing what you can make of your raw material.
Sometime next week I will post a link where you can download this whole series as one file.
Before you do that, however, we’re going to even out the sound of the interview track by using the Compressor effect. Select the track (click in the left hand area of the track where it says Mono 44100 HZ or the like) and then select from the top menu Effect—>Compressor. You’ll see the following:
Ignore all the sliders and just click on OK. By simply doing this you’ll have done three valuable things:
1) All your red clipping areas will be toned down slightly so they are no longer clipping, and
2) Your sound levels will be smoothed out; that is, the relative distance between your high and low volumes will be lessened. This is particularly useful for situations with more than one voice or source, and
3) After the first two have been accomplished, your volumes throughout will be relatively increased to the maximum they can go without clipping. This process is called normalization.
I usually use the Compressor effect at this point even if I am not showing any clipping.
Now you’re ready to add your musical intro. You could conceivably just cut and paste a piece of music onto the beginning of your interview track, but it’s classier to have a separate track which will allow some overlap between the music and the interview, as if it were underscoring.
Let’s assume you have an mp3 file of music that you wish to use, or, for example, sound from an mp4 video from YouTube or the like. Your first job is to import that file into Audacity. So, select the file to Import by File—>Import—>Audio:
When the import is complete you’ll have a new track underneath your original interview track:
In this case, the track imported was in stereo, so we’ll change it to mono as we did before—by clicking on the black triangle (just right of where it says “music intro” in the photo above) and then clicking on “Split Stereo to Mono.” That will result in two identical mono tracks one of which you will delete by clicking on the “x” in the upper left hand corner of the track.
If you were to set the Play cursor to the beginning and click on Play you would now hear the music track and the interview track at the same time. If you only want to hear one track at a time, you can click on Solo on the left hand side of the track to make it the only track played (you’ll notice the other track is now grayed out instead of blue). Likewise, if you click on Mute on the left side, the track will become greyed out and quiet while the other track will remain active.
Typically, I like to have 20-40 seconds of music intro before the human voices come in, and then about twenty more seconds of music underneath the voices before I fade the music out. And on the tale end I like the music to fade up as I’m giving the closing credits and then take us out with the music fading out. So, how to do this?
To do this, we use the time-shifting cursor. It sounds much more magical than it really is. It’s just a cursor that moves things right and left. It’s in your toolbar above the tracks:
Normally, your cursor looks like the “I-beam” in the upper left hand corner above. We are going to change the cursor to the “time-shift” tool in the middle of the second row in the photo above.
Using this tool, I am going to pull the interview track to the right thirty seconds by clicking and dragging on the track. The result should be something like this:
So now, if we played both tracks, there would be 20 seconds of music by itself and then the interview and music together. Of course, the music would still be very loud and drown out the voices, so we have to lower the volume on the music when the voices come in. Fortunately, Audacity gives us a tool to do that fairly automatically called Auto Duck.
To use Auto Duck, we want to move the music track immediately above the interview track. ( It was difficult for me to get this right at first, because when I think of the “underscoring” metaphor, I think of music below. But in Audacity, the level of the interview track below controls the level of the music track above.) In order for this to happen correctly then, we must drag the music track to a position above the interview track. First, make sure you’re back to the I-beam cursor by clicking its icon on the toolbar. Next click in the left hand area of the music track right where it says Mono 44100 HZ, and drag it upwards above the other track. When you’re finished it should look like this:
Now in order to “duck” the volume of the music wherever there is voice, you are going to select the music track (not the interview track under it) and then click on Effect—>Auto Duck. Ignore all the sliders and just click on OK. The result should be something like this:
Notice that now the music volume is much lower above where the voice track is. You’ll probably want to take down the volume of the music even more which you can do with the Amplify effect, and then fade out the music over the next 20 seconds or so (you can then delete the rest of the music track).
For the outro, you go through a similar process: Import a track you wish to use, time shift it to the area at the end of the interview to the place where you want it to overlap the voice, and then use Auto Duck. Further correct with Amplify and Fade In, and then finally Fade Out as the music ends your piece.
This has been a lot, so save your work, and I promise tomorrow I’ll be back with how to make a final mix down to one track and then export your work. See you then.
This week was the fourth anniversary of this blog, November 2, to be exact. Thanks to all for your support. As we go into our fifth year, it’s been the anniversary tradition here to list my favorite posts of the past year. You may enjoy catching up on some of them: