Final Audio Story

What I have here is a very Radiolab-esque podcast. In whatever fictional world this podcast is from, the host previously interviewed me on my non-fictional story about getting good at improvising on piano. Now, during the podcast, the host recounts my story while providing some soundbites from the interview. These soundbites are answers I supposedly gave to the host’s questions about how I felt about parts of my story. Contrary to what you might expect, these are not at all answers in the form of words. Rather, they’re in the form of songs I made up and played on my electric keyboard. The tone of each song represents a different emotion, one which the host clarifies after the song is over.

My inspiration for this came immediately after listening to Radiolab for the first time. I wanted my audio story to be a similar kind of podcast, wherein I talk about what I learned in an interview. Of course, I also wanted to put a pretty big twist on what the podcast’s soundbites were like. I really don’t know where I got the inspiration from for making my piano do the talking – I guess I’ve just always wanted to show how expressive musical improv can be.

Before starting the project, I did a smidge of preliminary research by looking up some tips for podcasting. The links to the sites I visited are here…

I took these websites’ tips into consideration, even if I didn’t consciously use any of them.

I put a lot of time into designing my rough draft. My concept for organizing the draft’s material was pretty simple: four talking sections with piano sections in between. To make the talking sections sound interesting, I added a bit of my piano playing to the background to act as nat sound. To make my third piano section exciting as a grand finale, I again added background music.

Because my podcast could only be two minutes at most, I had to keep my story short. Thus, I divided into three simple parts (a beginning, climax, and resolution) and dedicated a piano section to each. This way, not only could my podcast be short, but it would also be engaging thanks to a positive-sounding beginning, negative-sounding climax, and positive-sounding resolution. I’ve often heard about that positive-negative-positive system being attractive to people.

When I finished my rough draft, I realized I made a pretty big mistake. Throughout the whole time while making it, I had forgotten to make it like Radiolab. I instead ended up with a direct interview without any narration. I knew this would have to be changed for my final draft.

During the peer review, I saw that absolutely all my reviewers shared a common critique: I should use my normal voice. In order to give my rough draft more character (and to hide my less-than-stellar real voice), I used a made-up voice for the host’s character, but no one seemed to find it necessary. Hence, despite my lack of appreciation for my real voice, I knew I would need to sound more natural on the final draft.

I started a new Audition file from scratch for my final. I used the same concepts of talking plus piano sections and a positive-negative-positive plot, though I re-recorded everything. This time, I spoke naturally and in the context of narration for the talking sections, and I put in better-sounding takes for the piano sections.

On the technical side, I had little trouble making the final draft. Since I wasn’t as experienced a while ago, making my rough draft was a pain. Yet with the right experience now, the final draft was a breeze.

Wherever multiple music tracks would play simultaneously, I cut the front end of each track up to the exact spot where the first note begins. I was able to sync the tracks really well by doing that then lining the starts of the tracks up together.

My finishing touch was adjusting the volume of each track. For the talking sections, I made sure my narration took center stage while the background music was gratuitously quiet. For the piano sections, I made any notes I originally played too softly become more audible.

My greatest challenge in the technical process was by far syncing musical tracks during my rough draft. Without the proper experience, figuring out any good way for doing so was agonizing. Fortunately, this wasn’t a problem by the time I got to my final draft. That’s because I had figured out the best place to cut from on the front end of each track.

My advice to Audition newcomers in my rough draft post was to avoid arranging music on this software at all costs. I argued doing this is far too hard to be worthwhile. However, given that doing this is now a piece of cake for me, my new advice is to go ahead and try arranging music on Audition if you want. You just have to know that it is definitely difficult and has a steep learning curve. But hey, if a non-technical moron like me can eventually do it, then so can you.

To wrap things up, I’ll just mention that no citations are necessary. All the audio in this post was recorded by myself.


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