The following is a step-by-step breakdown of an original concept of mine. It should be noted, before we start, that this is a parody of mashup tracks, in that the results will most likely be far less than desired and far more than hilarious. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy listening to the final product as I’ve enjoyed making it.
For starters, you need to download the audio editing software of your choice; in my example, I will use Audacity. After you do this, it would be wise if you plan ahead, and think of which musical acts you remember that you think had at least two songs with, more or less, the exact same beat.
In my case, I went with three attempts at making a backwards-sounding song out of two forward-sounding tracks: “Livin’ on a Prayer” mixed with “You Give Love a Bad Name,” both by Bon Jovi; “I’ll Be There For You” mixed with “If I Was Your Mother,” both also by Bon Jovi; and “Jeremy” mixed with “Even Flow,” both by Pearl Jam.
When you figure out what pair you want to mash up, I personally recommend looking on YouTube for any available audio footage, of the songs you wish to use. The reason is that you need to copy their URLs onto another site, specializing in MP3 conversion, as that’s one of the only available forms of audio media that can be successfully imported to, and exported from, Audacity.
Once you’ve memorized the URLs connected to the songs you wish to use, find a YouTube-to-MP3 site as soon as possible; if it’s available, paste your copied URLs onto their search bar, one at a time, and click the button that converts the audio into the necessary MP3 file. Make sure to save the downloads, once the options come up, before taking part in any future steps; without these files, you won’t have anything to mix. Transferring the newly-downloaded files onto a memory card wouldn’t hurt.
As soon as everything’s saved, it’s time to use Audacity, but not before taking the time to know which tabs trigger which effects, so as to avoid any potential mistakes you could make along the way.
By the way, one thing about the MP3 files you’ve just downloaded is that they play your chosen songs in their entirety; this is where things really start to get tough for you, as now, you have to edit the songs in such a way that as much of the similarities you first noticed regarding your two songs are also noticed by future listeners. If you happened to mess up during the editing process, you can still go back by pressing the Control and Z buttons on your keyboard, together, to redo the intended edit from where the botch took place; pressing Control and Y together will, eventually, return you to your most recent edit.
Once you’re satisfied with everything you’ve done, be sure to save your final draft as a software-exclusive file, before exporting the audio onto an MP3 file, as that is necessary for transferring audio onto SoundCloud, or another audio-based website.
From there, all that’s standing in your way of another accomplished assignment is yet another round of the usual paperwork. Log onto your SoundCloud account, upload the newly-edited MP3 files – preferably with the necessary tags, obligatory catchy title and detailed description – and, once everything is filled in to your liking, just hit the “Save” button.
If SoundCloud doesn’t approve of your choice of mashup – most likely due to a copyright dispute, you can upload your mashup in video form, using a YouTube or Vimeo account. As an example, I’ll post my Pearl Jam mashup onto my YouTube channel, like so:
Using VideoPad by NCH Software, I edit a public domain image of the Ace of Spades into a “movie” that’s really just a still shot used to promote a given song. Typing the credits first, and then uploading the image onto a separate “video track,” I was able to create the effect of the credits being laid over the image. I also selected an “old film” effect for the card, to add to the rough-and-tumble feel of the songs, and a “ripple” effect for the credits themselves, to add to the “moving picture” feel. After saving my “video” as an AVI file, I import the footage onto Windows Live Movie Maker, which allows me to add opening and closing credits to my “film” before uploading it onto YouTube, crediting it with the right messages and links, when necessary.
The most important thing to remember from this task is that you have to have fun with it. You’re not going to get the perfect mashup on the first take, if at all, and even the one that this challenge is named after – the infamous “How You Remind Me of Someday” – needed a bit of editing to reveal the fraud being parodied here. Ultimately, the whole point is to provide a high-impact exercise of your use of Audacity, just to make sure you know how hard the producers of your favorite records have it, and I believe that experience, alone, is more than worth the five stars I give it, as its one of the easiest challenges you’ll face in DS106, as well as one of the toughest.
As the title implies, this is actually a double-feature of sorts, considering I had two separate, yet equally powerful, takes of one line, and if you know the name associated with the second half of this entry’s title, then allow me to congratulate you for actually knowing something about movies that can’t be relegated to the pages of TV Tropes.
Admittedly, though, I never actually saw Casablanca. I wasn’t even a gleam in one of my grandparent’s eyes when the film first premiered back in 1942, although I have heard several of its lines in passing over the years, to the point that I now know for a fact that no one in that movie ever really said the words, “Play it again, Sam.”
This brings us to a four-star Audio Assignment, that I took during my mid-term period, wherein I had to do the following:
Take a famous line from a movie and remix it to create an entirely new story from just this one line. Get creative, but make sure to have a good balance between what you add and keep to make sure that the line is still recognizable, but tells the story completely differently.
The line I selected was the final line uttered by Humphrey Bogart’s character, Rick Blaine, as he and Captain Louis Renault, played by Claude Rains, walk off into the fog: “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” As for my remix, well, allow me to point out that the film took place between the 2nd and 5th of December, in 1941. Guess what happened later that week.
While there were no audio samples used here, save for my voice, and very few edits to make, outside of deleting the clicking sounds of the play button on Audacity, I did make sure to set the right tone for both versions, considering the tragic events to come. Basically, Casablanca can be considered a prequel/sequel hybrid, of sorts, to John Kander and Fred Ebb’s 1966 musical classic, Cabaret, in that both take place in the last years – or last days, in Casablanca‘s case – before World War II threatened to drive all existence to total extinction, a feeling that still lingers to this day, given our fear of letting go of our nuclear weapons entirely. Suffice it to say, I think my edits to the quote have painted a far more dramatic picture in the original’s place, so I’ll just let you know that both of these entries are now available, for your listening and dancing pleasure, on SoundCloud.
Don’t get me wrong: I had plenty of options going into my first of two Audio Assignments, in which I had to deliberately botch a popular song lyric. For example, I originally planned to do, “It doesn’t make a difference if we’re naked or not,” a mondegreen associated with Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” primarily so I could joke about divine providence coming back to haunt me for what I did to the band’s logo, in conjunction with Europe’s recent Geico ad, and maybe find a way to drag Jermaine Stewart into the mix, because it just felt right. However, given the upswing in news stories involving the abuse of the Second Amendment – to the point that there are now two reports of genital-related shootings in as many weeks, if you look hard enough – I had to go with one that fits the theme, and somehow manages to make it even darker. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the song I’ve opted to perform for you this week is none other than Pearl Jam’s ode to gun violence from 1991, “Jeremy.”
“Jeremy” was written in the wake of a high school shooting orchestrated by the aptly-named Jeremy Wade Delle, in Dallas, Texas – a city, and state, that apparently seems to value their hunting rifles, far more than the air they’re supposed to breathe, and the planet they’re supposed to live on. I mean, neglectful parents are one thing, but living in an environment where it’s every man, woman, and child for themselves, on top of that neglect, is a pretty scary concept for anyone to wrap their head around. Even their educational system glorifies survival of the sickest, and false lyrics like this aren’t going to help with matters any time soon.
For those of you who came in late, the line I botched was, “At home, drawing pictures with mounds of tots, with ham on top,” when the original lyric was, “At home, drawing pictures with mountaintops, with him on top.”
It actually took a while for me to edit both the original track, which I lifted from the music video using a website that specializes in MP3 conversion, and my voice, which I created a second file with using the Sound Recorder feature on my laptop, with the Audacity feature on my main computer. It was about as confusing as that last sentence.
Once I did, though, everything clicked into place, and my finished product was uploaded onto SoundCloud, for three-and-a-half stars, out of five for these two weeks.
Another assignment is completed, and another three-and-a-half stars are wasted, as I just finished editing my potential commercial for my upcoming mid-term podcast, “Wacky History.” In this advertisement, modeled after several segments from VH1’s “I Love” series of yearly retrospectives, I do my best impersonation of Donald Trump, briefly talking about the origins of Graham Crackers, penicillin, and potato chips.
For those who came in late, the facts I hinted at were all featured in an article on businesspundit.com, and, yes, they are all true.
George Crum created the potato chip after a patron complained about the cut of his French fries, leading him to cut them as thin as possible, grease-fry them until crisp, and return them to the offending customer, who actually liked the result.
The music I chose to play in the background was Nektar’s instrumental cover of the O’Jays hit, “For the Love of Money,” which reality TV fans instantly identify as the theme song to The Apprentice, a show originally hosted, in a sense, by Trump, himself.
Once I got everything spliced together, it was, more or less, smooth sailing, right on down to uploading the finished product onto my SoundCloud account.
Although it won’t add another three-and-a-half stars to my weekly score, one Audio Assignment we needed to complete this week was creating an audio bumper for our radio show. Considering our theme was “Wacky History,” a look into the bizarre origin stories of household products, I decided to take a slight “jab” at the original crackpot conspiracy theorist.
In the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, Jeron Konig, better known as The Amazing Criswell, was a nationally-syndicated actor and writer; his main claim to fame was portraying a psychic, who made predictions so offensively wrong in retrospect, that he makes modern doom-sayers look like Robin Hood cosplayers. Nevertheless, he still managed to gain some modicum of fame from his attention-seeking ways back then, to the point that he had bit parts in not one, but two movies directed by Ed Wood. Not only was Criswell the de facto narrator in Plan 9 from Outer Space, he repeated this role in Night of the Ghouls, which wasn’t even given a home video release until a few years after his death. Not that bad, for the personal psychic of Mae West.
Suffice it to say, a show that aims to educate people about historical events, while also poking fun at things you wouldn’t believe existed “before your time,” would need to keep things tongue-in-cheek, so the audience could still laugh at the jokes, without any guilt to hold them back. Keeping that in mind, I decided my bumper for “Wacky History” would sum up our goals for this series, loud and clear.
Admittedly, it may sound like I’m insulting someone again at first, but the use of the “parrot voice,” on the second half of the tagline, shows that I’m in on the joke, and having as much fun with my role as Criswell did with his. For the background music, I believe that the opening seconds of “Walk Like an Egyptian” tells listeners that a different kind of school is in session, as “Wacky History” is all about bridging past with present, in a way that children of all ages can enjoy. Of course, those who want to get technical about my editing ability will be glad to know that an alternate take was published, as well, complete with last-second fade-out.
For further evidence, here’s some snapshots from the editing process for both versions, with the latter of the fade-out for the alternate cut.
Now, to be fair, the entertainment industry of at least six decades ago had different standards, when you compare them to today’s equivalent. However, when audiences are told to “think of us as Criswell Predicts, only we actually know what we’re doing,” we want them to understand that we’re talking directly to them about these seemingly random subjects, and that we’re not better than they are, just because we have this knowledge; if anything, we’re professors at a glorified clown college. The takeaway from this task is that those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it, especially when it comes to those who aren’t as bright as they think they are. Rest in peace, Criswell.
I end my one-night trilogy on a high note, as I earn my final two stars for this week by making my own personal “tagline,” in the same vein as the characters from the Real Housewives franchise. To make a long story short, the Real Housewives is a series of reality shows that first debuted on the cable network, Bravo, in 2006, with the premiere of The Real Housewives of Orange County; since then, an additional six spin-offs have aired in the U.S. alone, and six more have followed suit internationally.
The tagline I chose to reflect my character, on a potential Real Househusbands show, reflects both the intellectual and hard-working sides of my personality. This is done by referencing the opening words of the “Seven Ages of Man” monologue from Act II, Scene VII, of the William Shakespeare play, As You Like It, while also emphasizing the fact that I put as much effort as humanly possible into my assignments, allowing all of my resulting performances to be memorable, for better or worse.
With this, I have exceeded my eight-star minimum for the week, and my audio assignments conclude, for now. Overall, I’d have to say that this was definitely a challenge for me, at least at first, but once I figured out how to work each task out properly, things were over and done with in a matter of hours.
As I mentioned in a previous post, all of the projects I completed as part of this week’s proceedings were all done in one take, including those I decided not to include in this three-parter. Among the wreckage is an alternate take of my Real Housewives tagline, which you can hear here. There isn’t much of a difference, except for me sounding even more like a “Southern Belle.”
For my next trick, and therefore, my second task worth three-and-a-half stars instead of four, I wrote, and recited, an original poem based on the themes of Mitchell’s Hot Topics; this poem focused on the red, orange and yellow coloring scheme the site largely has, up to, and including, the chrysanthemum background, and how said flower resembled the illusion of dancing flames. The poem was aptly named “Atomic Garden,” after the Bad Religion song of the same name, and focuses on my on-again, off-again ability to comprehend current events, both at home and abroad, as well as my personal anxieties and long-standing fear of letting others down, if not myself; even now, I still suspect that doing what I think is right could still lead to my destruction, a behavioral pattern I’m trying to stop.
Why in the world should I be afraid,
Of Father Time giving me a failing grade,
When I’d rather stop to smell the flowers,
Than talk of the latest outrage for hours?
It isn’t like the neighbors will decide
When I can run, and where to hide.
I want to be where the people are,
But I don’t think they’d even want to see me from afar.
I want to be heard on the grandest stage,
But I fear what I say will unleash someone’s rage.
It isn’t that I’m bad at my craft. I’m not,
But these days, it seems that everyone’s getting caught.
The thing is, in darkness, there must be light.
In times of hunger, we must take a bite.
I have to stop being so paranoid,
About this so-called heart-shaped void.
There are issues to address! The people must know!
Stop hiding in your past, kid. Let everything show!
Well, if it will help me stop being so shy,
I’ll tell you my one true reason why.
The things that give me the most terrible fright
Are the things we don’t notice, because they’re hidden in plain sight.
The crysanthemum, that you hold in your hand,
Is perdition’s flame, burning alongside time’s sand.
The biggest project on this week’s checklist was finding three audio challenges that I could do on SoundCloud, with a combined difficulty rating of at least eight stars. Believe it or not, I actually had a couple of extra entries left over after I completed the necessary tasks, with mixed results; for the sake of brevity, though, I’ll only focus my attention on the main three.
Ergo, the first task I completed was “The One-Man Play,” in which I had to, quote, “act out a scene from a play by myself, using different voices for different characters.” This was one of two challenges that currently has a difficulty rating of three-and-a-half stars, when previous attempts were made under a four-star ranking.
My selection for this performance was from the anthology, “Dialogues of the Gods,” written by Baudelaire Jones, and based on the original works of Lucian of Samosata; as the title implies, this was a series of satirical dialogues, intended to mock the Greek myths as told by Homer, author of The Iliad and The Odyssey. As for the scene itself, written by Jones in 2008 for the book’s commercial release, it revolves around Hermes’ first run-in with his son, Pan; for this performance, I gave a Scottish brogue to Pan, who has every right to feel offended for being born half-goat, and a deep, rumbling voice to Hermes, which fits because he’s “the fleet-footed messenger of the gods,” for those of you who didn’t get to see Xanadu on Broadway.
The fact that all of the SoundCloud entries this week were completed, more or less, in one take, is a testament to my work ethic. Factor in how easy my account accepted these files once the paperwork was completed, and this was actually a rather tame week, all things considered.