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Recording Sounds

February 18, 2011

Today, we hooked up our piezo mics to all kinds of instruments and objects including Indonesian frog-callers, toy accordion, bajo, cajon, toy piano, kalimba, and sleigh bells.

Before turning them loose, I demonstrated the recording process. As a “light at the end of the tunnel”, I created a modified loop and played it in GarageBand.

First, I showed them how to tape the microphone wire onto the side of the instrument to relieve stress on the small lead wires and solder joints.

After plugging into the computer, I demonstrated how to set the proper sample size, bit rate, and file types in the preferences pane. As a reference, we recorded as AIFF, 44,100, and 16-bit. I did this to facilitate assembling projects in GarageBand.

I checked the input levels with a sample recording, then recorded about 10 seconds of improv. I did a quick edit, counted off eight beats, then applied some effects. I added a wet phaser and reversed the clip. I exported the loop into the Apple Loops Utility, added metatags on the transients, and exported that into GarageBand.

Because of the metatags, I could now manipulate the loop in GarageBand. I demonstrated how to sync it with other pre-fab loops and create a simple piece. This whole process took me about 7 minutes. The remainder of the time was spent with the students working in groups to build a small library of recorded sounds from which they will learn to create loops, and eventually, compose a piece.

I should mention that I teach them to use Audacity so we have an open-source-cross-platform tool students can use at home, either for homework, or hopefully, their own projects. In the absence of one-to-one, this helps level out the technological playing field.

Next week, we will continue collecting sounds, before I teach them how to edit and place metatags into the files.

– Posted from my phone. Go to my webhub at:


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