Day 6: Sound/writing

We have three meetings left. In these meetings I’m going to:

  1. Introduce you to The Phono Project, the WordPress site we’ll use collaboratively to upload your work.
  2. Review the final requirements for the module, which are on the syllabus.
  3. Continue to work with you on how to use Audacity to record your voice and mix your track.
  4. Provide time to work on The Phono Project final.

Writing for listeners

Writing for the ear is really different from writing for the eye. Listen to this podcast from Howsound called “Sounding Like Yourself” to get a sense of what this means. We will then generate some principles for approaching your scriptwriting and take a look at each others’ scripts to see how they could be revised for the ear.

Questions to think about after listening to “Sounding Like Yourself”:

  • How does writing for sound differ from other kinds of writing?
  • Based on what you’ve found about your recording so far, how might you apply some of this advice?
  • What are your current sources telling you about your recording? How would you write from your current sources, but do it in such a way that it sounds like you?

Editing Scripts

Have someone at your table create a Google Doc and share it so that other members can edit. Paste all your scripts in this Doc and take turns having each author read theirs to the group. After each person reads aloud, have the table take turns doing the following:

  • Ask a question about the script.
  • Suggest a place where the writer can cut a detail, an entire sentence, or combine sentences.
  • Rewrite a sentence so it sounds better.

Mic check

For your final WordPress post you should have drafted 250-words toward a script; however, since your final script will be an attempt to write for the ear rather than the eye how do you literally hear yourself? By recording. When you are recording yourself — whether as part of the writing process or for the final — there are many things to consider, one of which is fidelity, or the quality of your sound. And this of course is dependent on the technology you have. So let’s do a quick rundown of the mics and devices you might use as you begin to record Track 2 in Audacity.

Smartphone mics. If you have an iPhone, you already have a decent quality microphone in your pocket. This is much better than the mics on the iMacs or your laptop. To record in iPhone, use the Voice Memos app (includes with your OS) and share the file by sending to your Drive folder (if you have that installed on your phone or sending an email attachment).  There are several apps for Android as well. The smartphone mics are nice because they are designed to pick up your voice (and your voice alone) in noisy environments. The drawback is that sometimes Audacity won’t import the VM format which are m4a files.

Desktop. If you don’t have a smartphone, you can still record with Audacity from your iMac. However, two things to keep in mind with this: first, the computer mic is not very good. You can plug a bluetooth or wired mic into the computer for a slightly better mic, but it’s still going to be subpar. Second, the desktop mic is going to pick up on lots of ambient sound in the room; you obviously don’t want chairs squeaking and people talking in your recording. If you do record with Audacity, export the file as mp3 and save the file in your IWA folder.

Yeti mic

Yeti Mic. I have a high quality mic I have used by myself and with student projects in the past. You can hear what this sounds like from an audio essay I’m writing about Sound Beat and The Phono Project. When combined with Audacity, this mic is an especially attractive option. Although this picks up on ambient sounds more than any other mic in the bunch, this can be minimized in my office or sometimes by recording in the hallway. 

If there’s time: “I hate the sound of my voice”

Voice Memo app in iPhone

Something odd happens when we hear a recording of our own voices — it seems to sound, well, disembodied. Not like us. Off. But this is something we have to get used to with a project like this so let’s try something…

  1. Use your phones to record yourself saying “This is the phono project.” Make it sound like Viki. To do this on an iPhone, use the Voice Memos app.
  2. Share the file to me via Airdrop – press 3 dots, then the Share button, and airdrop it to “otherluth2017.” If you’re using Android, you might have to email it to me.
  3. Let’s listen.

Mixing audio in Audacity

Because we are moving quite fast, I’m going to review some of those moves quickly and share a few other tools that should help you in the editing process. Let’s quickly review that lesson by editing those sounds you just sent me. New skills include:

I also want to mention that has a really helpful, 2-hour tutorial for Audacity.

Homework for Day 7

Cut your script down to 125 words and record your final draft on your phone. Save the file in your IWA shared folder in Google Drive so you can work on it in class.

Try recording parts of your draft script, editing it as you hear yourself speak it out loud. Use the trim, fade, and volume features to record a 20-second demo, just to get a feel for the program As you edit, you might ask yourselves the following questions:

  • Were there parts that felt awkward to read? Is there a way to make the script more conversational?
  • Were there are parts that were too long or pours out too quickly?
  • What other revisions could you make based on what you hear? What do you hear when other students read your writing out loud?