When Longer Really Is Better__ … __Podcasting Quicktip #8 __(Making Short Musical Spots, Longer)

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Since we’ve recently been talking about putting a musical floor beneath your talking or reading of your podcast, you may have the problem of your musical spots being to short. So, if that is the case, what can you do to make them longer?

In this article I will be talking about, and using “Audacity” (1.3.0-beta version). It’s for Windows XP . If you download a later version, (like 1.3.3, which I think is the latest) I will be updating this article and it’s information to that version soon. There are some slight differences in the 1.3.3 version and I am not totally familiar with it yet, (but you can get it by Clicking Here).

If you are using an editing program like “Audacity” I will be showing you what I consider to be the easiest way to extend the length of those short musical spots that you have access user rights to and want to use. Even if you aren’t using “Audacity”, the principles and techniques will still hold true. This is not something that is hard, but it does require you to expend a little effort to accomplish the desired results. Who knows; you may actually find that it’s a lot of fun finding ways to make them work differently.

Remember; my examples are just that– examples– and please do not think I am in anyway trying to limit your creative capabilities. I simply offer these examples as my creative offering.

First of all, let me stress I am talking about musical spots you have the rights to use. I am not talking about taking short sections of someone’s music you don’t have the right to use and making a musical floor out of it. I am a firm believer that everyone that creates copyrighted material has the option of allowing you to use it for free, or for pay, and they should have the final say in it. In other words, if you don’t have the right to use it, you shouldn’t. It just isn’t fair to the person who makes their living on, or by, what they create. If you do use it without permission, the person that owns it has every right to take legal action against you in some form or other and probably will.

Now that I’ve said that, I think we can move on to using those short little spots to become as long, or as short, a piece of music as we need for our musical floor. In the examples I will use in this article, I will be using music from Mike Stewart. It is music that was made available for free from his site, “theinternetaudioguy” and all I had to do was sign up for his email list at “soundpages” to receive them. I just checked on them before this article and they are still available. What could be easier?

Now, just as a side-note; Mike Stewart and his friends share a wealth of information on their sites. You cannot go wrong in checking them out. Now think about this; how can you go wrong by checking out what Mike and his friends have to offer and getting some free stuff at the same time. It’s a “no-brainer” as far as I’m concerned.

Okay, I think we’re done with the preliminaries and ready to move on to the actual subject for this article. What we want to do is make a thirty second music spot into one that is a little, or a lot, longer without it sounding as if it is starting over and over again. There are several ways of making this happen, depending on the way the musical spot is put together. (To clarify, this means how it begins and how it ends).

In the following example, I am using a piece called, “Hipster”, by Michael and Mike and I use it because it has several possibilities as far as editing is concerned. It can be done in several ways. I don’t know if it was planned that way or not, but, I do know that it works.

This spot is 30 seconds in time. I want to play it for you in its entirety first.

(Insert “Hipster” original cut)

Now, as long as you only need 30 seconds of music, this works just fine. When you need more time, you have to find a way to make the music you have last longer. Fortunately, this is fairly easy. I will do my best to explain it to you in simple, step-by-step, form so that you can try it yourself. Believe me, it will take longer to write out how it is done that it actually takes to do it. This explanation will require that you at least be somewhat familiar with your editing program and, as I said before, I am using “Audacity” to edit with. (Click Here if you don’t have “audacity” and would like to have it; after all it is free.)

  1. First, load your musical selection (file) into your editing program. In “Audacity”, this step is found on the menu button, “project”. Left click on “project” and you will see a menu. The first item on this menu is, “import audio” (or you can use “control+I”).
  2. A display page will appear and you can either click on your file choice for music or you can type in the file location to get your chosen piece of music ready to load into the editing program.
  3. Once it is loaded, you can either copy that track and paste it to a new track or you use “control+I” again and load it into the new track. After the track has loaded a second time, you will need to realign the second track to a new location so that it picks up where the other track ends.

This is where you have to use your ear for music. There are at least two ways to realign this track and I will demonstrate both of them here. (The reason I am going to demonstrate both of them is because I am going to use both of them.) You can either choose to use one, or both, of the overlaps in your re-creation of the track. My only request is that you try to make it work musically.

First, take a look at what you have on your screen before you. You have two copies of the same thing. If you play them, they will probably sound exactly the same, (as if they were one track). What we need to do is shift the second track to somewhere near the end of the first track. In “audacity” this is as easy as clicking on the second track near the end of the first track. This will locate the cursor at that point in the second track. After you have done this, do the following:

  1. Once again you will need to go to the “project” button.
  2. Click on the “project” button and open the menu
  3. Go down the menu to where it says “align tracks” and click on it. You will notice that it has a sub-menu.
  4. In the sub-menu, click on “align with cursor”.
  5. After you have done this, you will notice that the beginning of the second track is re-aligned to the place you clicked the cursor to.

That was pretty easy, wasn’t it? The next thing is to play it and see how it works musically. Let me play you my example now and see what you think. Now I admit, I have already moved it around several times to get it to this point and it is done the same way as the steps above. You simply move it around until it works musically and you like the way it sounds.

(Insert “Hipster” example 1, here.)

At this point, I would like to offer a second edit just to show that there is more than one way to arrive at a lengthened piece of music. This example uses the first two tracks and then adds a third of the same music spot, placed slightly differently than the first to add a bit of diversity.

(Insert “hipster example 2, here.)

As you can see, it is up to you how you edit your spots and the process can go on indefinitely until you have filled the necessary time slots with your musical floor choices. After you have re-edited several versions or extensions, you should save them as either an mp3 or wav file for later use. When you use them you can also fade them in or out as you deem necessary. The important thing to remember is to keep them easily available so all you have to do is click on them to add them to your future recordings.

Once you have made your extended versions and are happy with them, you can also add them together to make an even longer spot. In any case, you now control the length according to your needs.

Now, I am sure you are ready to get started with trying your hand at editing your own spots so … have at it. Don’t get frustrated or aggravated, just relax and have fun with it. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish and how easily you did it. All it takes is a little practice and paying attention to detail. (Hmmm … now where have I heard that before??)

See ya next time …

Published by

Rusty Norman

I've been doing live sound, recording, editing for over thirty-five years and also I am a songwriter and author/writer. My first book, "Living Life Notes" by Rusty Norman is available on Kindle and at Amazon.com (Follow this Link >>>Living Life Notes by Rusty Norman