Another Tour Completed
Working with audio creatively is not an area I’m particularly experienced in. While I consider myself a huge music guy, always listening to something and coming up with melodies in my head, I’ve never truly taken the time to figure out any programs to actually create something. I’ve played around with FL Studio, Garage Band, and Ableton before, but have always found it quite challenging to really dig into it all. Thankfully, this week and some of these assignments have given me the opportunity to do so, instead using Audacity. Let’s take a deeper look at what I was able to accomplish this week in ds106:
Starting off the week, I wanted to write a bit of open ended fanfiction with this daily create. The prompt, to use an image of a unicorn to create a new story, didn’t initially lead me in this direction, but once finding this specific picture, I couldn’t put my mind elsewhere. The horn in this picture is clearly made of different material than the rest of the unicorn, looking as if it’s a wooden rod slotted into a metal horse’s head. As soon as I had that thought, though it does not look like Harry Potter’s wand, that’s immediately where I went. I thought this could be the start to an interesting narrative where Harry finds a secret entrance to a chamber of sorts. This chamber may contain secrets, but I promise you its a different “chamber of secrets.”
Continuing on, I found that this next daily create was surprisingly simple. The prompt was to put on some wacky, fun, or weird glasses for a selfie. Luckily for me, right inside the desk I was sitting at was my pair of “clout goggles” that I have on in my profile pictures for Twitter and Instagram. That picture takes me back to a very fun and wild time in my life, with these glasses being purchased on a whim and resulting in a ton of laughs.
The daily create to wrap up this week was exactly what I needed. My life has felt as though it’s moving 100 miles an hour with infinite gas, no traffic, and no turns or stops. Sometimes, even when you have a lot on your plate, you need to make yourself find some personal time. My anxiety was through the roof upon waking up this morning, feeling like I had way more to do than I could handle, but after a bit of focus and relaxation while listening to tranquil sounds of the forest, I found myself calming down a lot. After, I was able to collect my thoughts and plan out my day. While I still have a lot ahead of me, I feel more confident and ready to take on the challenges.
“Moon Graffiti” and “The Birds”
This week, we listened to some great stories and were subjected to impressive audio manipulation within. The Truth Podcast’s “Moon Graffiti” was able to paint countless emotions and scenes with their use of sound effects and distortion on audio. Whether it was an astronaut putting on his helmet, or the transition between open, face-to-face communication and the crackly radio communication, it felt as though you were watching a movie in your brain. Jad Abumrad, with Radiolab, described the idea of radio and the listening experience being a collaborate effort between the listener and the creator. The creator provides the tools and descriptions to create from, but ultimately what you see and create in your head is what you are meant to see. It’s really up to you how you interpret the things you hear in this medium, which is where the beauty of it really comes from.
As for the piece on Daphne du Maurier’s “The Birds,” and other renditions of the same story, compared to “Moon Graffiti,” you could hear the differences between audio engineering years ago versus that of the past decade into today. Throughout the different variations of “The Birds,” you can hear various different bird sound affects, with some sounding like cats, others sounding like monkeys, and some sounding clearly like they were machine generated. Some scenes that were played served as great lessons, as well, such as one in a restaurant where you can clearly hear that there is another conversation happening in the background. Nowadays, it’s common in film and television to create a scene in public where everyone in the background looks like they’re talking when in reality not a sound is being made. For radio, there isn’t the same luxury, having to establish a scene through either narration or clever additions, such as a background conversation, dishes clinking together, or the bell of the front door ringing showing that someone has either entered the diner or left. The Wednesday night broadcast on ds106 radio was extremely eye opening as to how radio techniques like these developed and they can help individuals understand other past and present forms of media.
Radio Show Ideas
I’ve always had dreams of being on the radio but have never had the ambition or drive to even see what it takes to get there. With that being said, I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to have fun and be creative without much pressure from “the real world.” Hopefully for this radio show project I’ll be able to be with a group that has an interest in podcasting in some way. I feel like anyone can be entertaining when it comes to something they’re passionate about and interested in, so if I was able to be with others with similar interests, we could make something very fun and interactive. Other than that, I’d love to bounce around the idea of creating a skit or story, similar to “Moon Graffiti,” using sound effects and manipulating the audio to create a narrative that paints a vibrant image in one’s mind.
I’ll admit that I felt a bit intimidated and overwhelmed even by the two words “audio assignments” alone at the start of this week. Before looking at any assignments, I figured this would be the area I struggled in the most to this point because it’s where I have the least experience. Though that may have been true, it doesn’t mean that I had any less fun. I learned a great deal about Audacity and found shortcuts and tricks that work for me when creating. I also ended up with a few products that blew me away, turning out way better than I could have ever imagined.
To start, I tackled the sound effects story assignment. This is something I’ve found to be quite fascinating, following online creators like Rudy Mancuso who make intricate and elaborate audio stories. So much can be pulled from nonverbal sounds, so I wanted to create a story of frustration doing this. After brainstorming for a while, I found that an office has some of the most background noise and chatter that would also be a common or somewhat relatable setting. By throwing in phones ringing and people talking, I had created this environment, so it was onto the story itself. Adding in a crisp typing sound on top of that placed the listener in a cubical or at a specific desk. Then, since I wanted to keep it on the shorter side, chaining some different audio segments together to create one whole sound worked in my favor. This helped to create realistic timing between the glass spilling over and inevitably smashing into pieces on the ground. To follow that up, a bit of keyboard slamming tied it all together. In hindsight, I’m sure I could have amplified things by adding in a sound effect of someone frantically moving around, to portray someone attempting to catch the class, but it simply hadn’t come to me before. Other than taking the time to figure out Audacity and find audio clips, I had no struggles with this assignment.
I’ll admit, for this assignment I got a little carried away. I strayed from the prompt slightly, using the voice of Bob Ross for his own quote rather than my own, but I’m extremely happy with how it turned out. I was able to play around with a little bit of remixing by splicing up some of the quote and throwing it in across the song “Nothing New” by The Strike. To me, a combination of Bob Ross’ voice speaking an inspirational message and upbeat, lively, jazzy music creates a new feeling of warmth inside of me. I was so pleased with how this turned out that I simply couldn’t take away that power by recording myself saying the line instead. Though I have been complimented on my voice before, I felt a great connection to the original. I found it difficult to crop out specific segments of what Bob was saying, ultimately forcing me to troubleshoot on my own, but using Audacity I was able to create multiple tracks with a little bit of Bob speaking thrown in every once in a while.
As mentioned in the blog post for this assignment, I don’t remember having a more fun, creative, and engaging time working on an assignment for school than this. Radio bumpers have always been so interesting to me, always having a great time creating my own on the spot between songs on my own playlist with friends and family. This was the first opportunity I had to actually create a truly realistic one with thought behind it. Going into this, I had a solid understanding of elements I wanted to add:
- Fade out from one song into the bumper, talking over the instrumentation at the very end of said song
- Announcement of what the radio station is called and what I go by as a host
- A fun fact that ties the first song into the song I’ll play next
- Talking over the instrumentation at the start of the next song
- Perfectly time the talking to end right before the first lyrics
I was able to achieve all of this very easily, thankfully, as I already had two songs in mind. Upon listening to the starts and ends of them, I found which song worked better as the first song fading out and which worked best to fade into at the end of the bumper. They fit almost too well together, and the fact connecting the two songs is very relevant in pop culture news. To break up the background silence a bit while telling said fact, I threw in a “Wow!” sound effect. I’ve heard goofy sound effects thrown into bumpers before, like on B101.5 or Sirius XM’s Alt Nation, so I thought that could be a fun touch. I know that with the way I created this, it cannot be used as an actual bumper for ds106 radio, but if that is something I should consider looking back into (creating one that does work), I’d be more than willing to, but I wanted to instead focus more on nailing a realistic bumper for this. One last thing I’d like to note that I’m extremely proud of is the inflection I put on different parts, such as when I first introduce the station and myself, or especially when I say “let me know what you guys think, here’s Light Switch.”
As a way to wrap up the week, I wanted to challenge myself to make something bad. Usually, you’ll find you’re always striving to create your best work, especially when actively working towards a degree. In this situation, though, I had to switch mindsets a bit. Of course, I wanted to stay in line with the requirements for the assignment, but while doing that, I was free to pretty much have a field day. I started this assignment by thinking of my most hated sounds in the world: babies crying and my dog barking obnoxiously on repeat all day. Then, I broadened my horizons to think of noises that generally annoy most people, those being the sound of others chewing and someone tapping something repeatedly across the room. These four elements together already created a monstrosity, but I knew I needed a cherry on top. Something truly awful. It came to me almost immediately: dial up. I haven’t heard this noise naturally many times, but I remember always recoiling whenever I did hear it, responding physically because of how horrible the sound is. That tied it all together, and within no time, I had this truly disgusting masterpiece.
Looking back on this week, I’m quite proud of my accomplishments. I stepped foot into new, quite unknown territory, not really knowing what I was going to produce to turn in. Thankfully, I found a great deal of joy and satisfaction with what I created, find both the journeys and the destinations to be quite pleasant. I’m grateful to have had this opportunity to learn Audacity and more about audio in general through this course, as I’m sure I’ll be using and improving these skills further elsewhere. As all weeks must, this is where week 5 comes to it’s end, leaving me feeling like a recording artist with another tour completed.