Audio Assignment #1: The Encounter

The encounter by jimgroom

This is the 90 second sound effects story I made for the sound effects audio assignment for ds106. I followed Shayna Moreland’s and Ben Rimes’s lead and riffed on a Summer time theme, mine being a short story at the beach. The beach tells its own story in terms of sounds, and I love the idea of an envirocast wherein you can experience the sense of place and being through sounds—Shayna’s example did that beautifully with the pool. I grew up on the beaches of Long Island and the sounds bring back for me such a powerful feeling of carelessness and freedom that I can’t help but be transported when I hear them, which for me is the real power of audio—it’s like the heroine of creative mediums, it plays on your sensibilities instantaneously! In fact, the absence of the beach where I live now is one of my greatest problems with Fredericskburg (especially during the Winter). Anyway, all the sounds I used are from freesound.org, and the list of credits are below (thank you awesome people for uploading your sounds, ds106 should encourage more of this):

Oceanwavecrushing by Luftrum
Sea Gulls close-up by justkiddink
Beachfootsteps by acclivity
Footsteps by Hazure
Splash by Patchen
Whale by Stomachache
Underwater by plagasul
Inhale by otherthings

How did I do it? Well, Audacity is getting easier and easier for me to work with. Not that I am getting better, but it is seeming more intuitive. The things you need to know when working on Audacity for a project like this are the following.

  • Importing new tracks: Once you have your first track open, go to Project–>Import Audio to add the additional tracks
  • Aligning audio tracks: To align the audio tracks you need to place your cursor where you want a particular track and then go to Project–>Align Tracks… and then choose with cursor. This will allow you to start organizing the tracks along a timeline.
  • Adjusting Gain: To adjust the volume/level on aparticular track look to the far-left of that track and use the Gain “-” and “+” sign slider to adjust the level of the track. Also, you can mute the track in this area as well, which may be useful for isolating tracks.
  • Cutting and pasting tracks: You can highlight a part of a track with your mouse and cut it out. Or, if you want, paste it to a new track which you create by going to Project–>New Audio Track.
  • Save as mp3: After that I made sure I had the LAME encoder installed thensave all the tracks together as an mp3 file and uploaded it to Soundcloud.

So there is my list of pretty simple steps I used to make this 90 second story—anything I am missing that could be useful?

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4 Responses to Audio Assignment #1: The Encounter

  1. Barbara says:

    I love this assignment, Jim, for just the reason you mention: “the idea of an envirocast wherein you can experience the sense of place and being through sounds.” We have forgotten how to listen deeply to the full soundscape around us, beyond us, and this sort of assignment (and the ease with which we can accomplish it) helps to restore our ability to listen. You capture several sound dimensions of the beach here, letting the human sounds be a natural but not dominate part. Nice.

    I used to do something similar with my writing students–I had them make sound-effects versions of poems they were writing as a way to test the texture and modulation of the emotional core of the writing with the writing stripped away completely. It’s an incredible revision tool. (I also had them dance their poems and stories–using no sound, no words, just the body.)

  2. Jim says:

    I love the idea of doing a soundtrack for your poem as a way to think about the tones, textures, and general sense of emotion elicited by the poem . I love it. I really use this as a way to get people familiar with how many awesome and free sound effects there are available online. What’s more it is a simple tool for them to get acquainted with Audacity. But as always is the case, the intentions for the assignment never match the cool and unexpected things people bring to it. Awesome to here form you again Barbara, you rock!

  3. Alan Liddell says:

    Nice. Eight unique sound files went into this recording? Because, at least in the beginning, it sounds like one clip of some dude walking on the beach.

  4. Reverend says:

    Alan,

    The footsteps and beachfootsteps where to different files, one one sand and the other on pebbles. I moved from sand to pebbles/rocks with the idea of suggesting he is getting closer to the ocean. This was fun to make, and relatively simple too thanks to the freesound project. Now I want to get some sound effects and upload them there, there are certainly some holes in that collection that we all could help fill.

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