A blog following my musical activities

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The perils of recording with contact mics

February 23, 2011

Day two of recording sounds. Thank goodness I demonstrated making a contact mic to each small group. In two days, about eight microphones have broken!

Mostly this is due to over-enthusiastic taping of the piezo element onto the object being recorded.

Students seems to be getting the hang of using the various flavors of Audacity to record. They have even improved upon my workflow suggestions!

Originally, I suggested that they record a short sound (10-20 seconds), then export it immediately as an aiff or wav.

Instead, some students made multiple recordings in the same workspace, then muted all tracks save the single sound being exported. Much more efficient!

The next step will be learning to edit and modify the samples into usable loops. This includes learning how to properly apply metatags with the Apple Loops Utility as well as sequencing in GarageBand.

Because GarageBand is proprietary, it is difficult for students without Macs to work at home. I plan to touch on open-source alternatives in the near future.

On my YouTube Channel, I have been posting similar examples of this kind of workflow with my “cat dance” series of experiments using a Korg Monotron.

The Monotron is a wonderful analog ribbon synthesizer that is about the size of a wallet. I record improvisations into the computer, chop up some samples, then make short electronic music sketches.

Here are some examples:

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


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