Audio at THATCampVA

Posted in: sound studies  conferences 

I took part in THATCampVA this past weekend, where I led a session on using Audacity to mix and remix audio files for Digital Humanities projects. This was my session proposal, copied from the event’s main page:

“A session on working and playing with audio files using Audacity, which has a fairly low barrier to entry for editing sound objects. Depending on interest and ability, we can take either a practical or a playful approach. I’m happy to walk people through some of its basic functions useful to DHers working with sound- how to slice out clips properly, deal with proprietary formats, repair audio clips, overlay tracks, etc. Or we can play around with some of audacity’s fun effects – phase shifting, echoes, pitch alterations, reversing sound waves – useful to more creative endeavors and creating sound art. I’m especially interested in how tinkering with sound artifacts might offer us new ways to interpret them. When does a sound object become something else-something new? We can work with any sound files that people may bring in, though I’ll bring in some samples to play with. The prize goes to the person who can process an otherwise human voice into the scariest thing we’ve ever heard.”

The group wound up wanting the introduction to Audacity before we played with the files, so I showed the group how to slice out and mix together a few seconds of a Bach partita to crossfade into the last sentences of Ulysses. Participants then tried their hand at remixing audio recordings based on their own interests, and a notable experiment took apart Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds broadcast. The group for the session was really great and gave helpful feedback on some ideas I had been kicking around for how to remix poetry readings for literary analysis. Very fun for my first THATcamp ever, and, in the future, I think I have a better idea of the kind of planning that goes into a good session!