The Craft of Audio

Here are some fantastic resources, put together by audio-experts, that are pitched at newcomers to audio creation.

  HowSound, the Back Story to Great Radio Storytelling: this podcast is a must-listen for anyone interested in learning how to podcast. Rob Rosenthal is an exceptional teacher of sound and audio storytelling, and this is his podcast about how to podcast.  It’s analytical, critical, thoughtful and gorgeous to listen to.

  The Ear Training Guide for Audio Producers:   this guide is by Rob Byers at NPR, and it lays out incredibly useful tips for how to address recording problems, editing problems and mixing problems.  And it might be worthwhile skimming over the menu of all of NPR’s audio training offerings.

   Podcasting Basics, parts 1 through 5:  this is a five-part series by Jeff Towne at Transom on how to dive into podcasting.  Every one of these is worthwhile! 

   CBC’s The Doc Project audio tips:  here’s the blog of the Doc Project, which contains a rich array of “how to” discussions of how to tell a great story using sound.

 

 

How to Teach Podcasting

The best way to learn something is to teach it.

And more specific to podcasting, Ira Glass claims that there’s something particularly pedagogical about the medium of audio. In Jessica Abel’s outstanding book, Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio, Ira explains:  “Radio is a peculiarly didactic medium.”  On these grounds, then, podcasting really lends itself to teaching, as curriculum itself (see Further Listening for suggestions about teachable podcast episodes) and also as a medium for students to explore, tell stories and find their voices.

Here are some resources, created by Ada Jaarsma, for bringing podcasting into the classroom:

    a handout for considering how to align podcast episodes with specific learning outcomes (like critical thinking, editing and writing).  This handout includes two suggested units for how to approach podcasts as curriculum: one unit focuses on whiteness and the problem of “white fragility”, and one unit focuses on trans literatures and the nature of “didactic” work.

     a sample assignment for an audio essay or podcast episode and an assignment for making a pitch to the class of an audio-project in process

   three sample syllabi (along with lessons and assignments) that embed podcasting directly within undergraduate courses:  Feminist Philosophy   and  Philosophy of Science and Sonic Existentialisms: Arendt & Fanon

DIY Tutorials for REAPER

It’s important to choose a good program for audio-editing, and REAPER is a great choice.  Why?  It’s non-destructive editing.  It’s free to use for 60 days.  After the 60 days, there’s an inexpensive licensing fee (which they don’t police).   And it has all of the tools you’ll need to create great audio essays.  (Transom agrees!  Here’s their pitch for REAPER).

     There are hundreds of videos on how to use REAPER, but here’s a place to start:  Ada’s DIY REAPER prezi which moves through a set of excellent DIY-REAPER tutorials.   (Suggested approach: first, just click all the way through the prezi to get a sense of the journey, and then go back and spend time watching the videos that cover the topics you’re ready to explore).

 

Thanks to Alexander B. Kim for recommending REAPER! And check out his totally-great podcast, Theoretically Speaking, and the SSHRC-funded podcast Cited where Alex is one of the producers.

 

 

Royalty-Free, Open and Free Sounds

It’s really important to locate music or sound effects that have the kind of copyright status for use in creative commons projects.  (In Canada, it’s called “fair dealing” in relation to copyright law).   Happily, there’s a stunning array of sites that contain free music or music that is shared under a creative commons license that lets us use or modify the sounds for our own purposes. 

Make sure that you note carefully where you find your sounds or music so that you can attribute them correctly in the show notes for your episode!   (And pro-tip:  always save your media in the same sub-folder.  This will be essential when you’re working within any audio-editing software program).

how to find usable tracks and sounds:

   Search the Creative Commons for sound (ie. Soundcloud or Jamendo) or for images (ie. Flickr), and the thing to look for is the creative commons icons for the very same limitations (“attribution” and “non-commercial”).  

    Here are 16,000 Sound Effects from BBC, easily searchable and usable for personal, educational or research purposes under BBC’s copyright. 

   The Free Music Archive lets you search by genre (Blues, Electronic, Experimental, etc).  They have a Song of the Day podcast: a way to discover a huge range of sounds and tracks.

   Opsound is a site that has wonderfully creative tracks and sounds. The site explains, “Listeners are invited to download, share, remix, and reimagine.”

   Free Sound is especially searchable for sound effects.

   Soundsnap has a huge database of sounds and loops (it’s easy to search, but not all of the sounds are royalty-free).

   An especially great set of royalty-free music can be found here.   (Credit to Marlo Mack from the award-winning podcast How to Be a Girl, whose music originates from this Incompetech site, put out by Kevin MacLeod).

  Jamendo is beautifully curated, with a lot of artists who are putting their tracks out with a creative commons license (meaning that we’re free to use them as long as we attribute the songs to them). 

  Our Music Box has a nice range of genres and tracks, royalty-free and easy to download.

   Mount Royal University’s library has curated a comprehensive list of open and royalty-free resources.

    Free Pod-Safe Music:  a great list of usable tracks and sites, put together by Ernest Barbaric for the inaugural Pod Summit in Calgary in May 2017.

[Listening for things we don’t know how to listen for]