Notes from the Shore

Work, marriage, kids and music

One Way Editing

(click for full-size)

Long time readers of my blog will remember about a year ago when I recorded the kids in my church singing several kid’s praise songs for use in their Sunday morning services. I detailed some of the recording aspects of this project here. That project languished under the weight of my underpowered computer for a looooong time.

Well, I just purchased a new computer – a quad-core HP with 3 gigs of ram and a 1/2 TB hard drive. I know, I spent all that effort trying to re-purpose the family Dell for music. In the end, that didn’t work. Somehow, when I formatted the hard disk and reinstalled the OS, I broke something in the software. It works fine for games and internet surfing, but as a music machine it just wasn’t cutting it (I could no longer run my SIR convolution reverb plug-in, for example). I eventually gave up and bought a new system that only I use. So far it’s working great.

Since completing O Sacred Head Now Wounded (on the old system), I’ve spent my time installing all of my software on my new 64-bit machine. So far almost everything has worked perfectly. The only glitches are that I’m having trouble getting the EW free library that I used in Sacred Head to install, and I can’t get the Sonar Comp/Limiter that I love (and used on the band recording for this Kid’s Praise song) to work. I haven’t given up on either, though.

Shortly after Easter last year, I scheduled a Sunday when I brought my system to the church and spent the entire morning recording kids singing, one at a time. Once I realized that I would have to substantially edit every part (untrained, child performers – no surprise), I shelved it until I had a computer up to the task. Now that I do, I’ve been editing, and editing, and editing.

I’ve learned a bit more about Sonar’s V-Vocal processor. It is the audio editing plug-in that is nicely integrated into Sonar. While the name is V-Vocal, it works well on any audio. I used it on Sacred Head to clean up the dodgy baritone sample that was not playing nicely with the other tracks.

It can edit pitch, timing, formant and volume, mostly without nasty artifacts (unless you make extreme edits).  Unfortunately, I cannot find much information on using it. On-line there is practically nothing, except advice to use the help file. When I hit F1, all I get is a brief sumary of the controls, not what they do or how they do it. I’m sure there’s more out there, I just haven’t found it yet.

Fortunately, most of what I want to accomplish is relatively simple. I’m going through each of the kids’ tracks, soloed with the band, and cleaning them up. In the screen shot at the begining of this piece, the tracks that are tan are the ones I’ve already finished.

Well, I haven’t really finished them. When I was setting up that screen shot, I accidentally played the song with all the tracks live, and I think I’m going to have to spend more time yet tightening up the timings. Right now it’s all a huge gobblety-gook of staggered entrances and sylables. I think it will be worth it in the end.

One last comment on the arrangement. I shuddered to think what it would take to get the fairly wordy and syncopated verses to sound great with a whole kid’s choir, so I decided to solo one kid for each part of the two verses, for a total of 4 solos. then I bring in the entire choir on the chorus. In the screen shot, the three columns of audio data are the choruses.

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