Audacity

One way for you to personalize your site or add variety to your assignments is to record audio. This might seem a little more advanced than photography, but once you have played around for a while, it will become much easier. These activities are intended to provide a brief overview of recording and sharing audio files. We will highlight 3 great audio apps and also briefly introduce you to Audacity, an open source audio editing tool.

Privacy Note

We will recommend that you sign up for some different web services in order to host your audio files. Please remember that you are not required to sign up for these services with your real name. Feel free to use a pseudonym or alias.

Audio Apps
  1. Anchor.fm is a free smartphone app for either iOS or Android (you can also upload from your computer) that allows users to quickly and easily record, upload, and share audio files. Keep in mind that 'ease-of-use' often means 'limited options', and this is certainly the case with anchor.fm. There is very little that you can do to edit your recordings after the fact, so you may have to record multiple times. Take a few minutes to download the app, or go to the site on your computer, and listen to some of the recordings that are posted there, then record a clip or two yourself.
  2. Soundcloud is another free (with a paid 'Pro' option) service that allows you to record and upload audio files. One advantage of SoundCloud is that it is extremely easy to embed a file in WordPress. All you need to do is copy/paste the URL from your uploaded file into its own line in a WordPress post or page, and WordPress will automatically display a SoundCloud player and embed the file into your post. Create an account at Soundcloud and record or upload a clip.
  3. TapeWrite is yet another free-with-pro-options. Record a clip and let us know what you think about the app.

Sharing Audio

Once you have created and uploaded audio clips in anchor.fm and SoundCloud share them in a new post on your blog or in Moodle and include some thoughts on the process. Was the app easy to use? Are you satisfied with the recording? What might you do differently next time? Was it easy to share from the app into your blog? Did you discover how to embed SoundCloud files?

Editing Audio

Now that you have experienced the basics of recording and sharing audio, it's time to dig a little deeper and explore how to use audio recordings to tell a coherent story. The authors of The YouShow wrote this about audio:

Some things to notice when listening to audio are the pacing (think of how they are equivalent of paragraphs in sound), the use of background music, the varying of volume, sound effects, ambient/environmental sounds, the introduction of radio “bumpers” to remind us of the show, introduction and exits. Try to tune into the layering of sounds, how audio can create a sense of place by being more than just a recording, but a deliberate stacking of audio layers.

What sets some podcasts apart from others is the degree of production that goes into the final product. For some insight into how high quality podcasts are produced, listen to this episode from HowSound (16m 17s), a podcast about producing podcasts. With that information in mind, while you listen to audio content on the radio or in a podcast, pay attention to the techniques that the producers used to tell their story. Here is an example of how the absence of sound can provide a significant emotional cue in an audio recording. Pay attention at around the 3-minute mark. For some of the best examples of audio storytelling, check out a few episodes of The Truth podcast. The episodes are short (~20min or less) and are described as 'movies for your ears'. Listen in a quiet place where you will be able to become immersed in the soundscapes of the story. For best results, use headphones.

Sometimes sounds can be used to completely change the character of video, as below.

Audacity Editing App

Audacity is a free and open-source audio editing program that allows you to create your own layered audio tracks with either recorded or 'found' sounds.

If you are using a Mac computer, you likely have access to GarageBand, which will work quite nicely for these activities, but we will focus these instructions on Audacity.


Sound Effect Story

In this two-part activity you will try to create a short story out of just sound effects (no dialogue), the DS106 Sound Effect Story assignment. To prepare for this, you can start trying to find or record five or more sounds you can piece together for a story. What can you tell in five sounds?

Here is a sample story.

Part 1: Find or record sounds you can edit together to create a story

The story can be about a project you are working on, or an accomplishment, or something related to a research project you may be engaged in (or just use sounds related to one of your personal interests).

You can either record sounds or find ones that are licensed for reuse. Some places to find sounds include:

Part 2: Create your story

In part 1, we suggested recording or finding sounds you can use to edit to a single piece; something that might introduce your eportfolio or web site readers to the environment of the place you work. The story can be about a project you are working on, or an accomplishment, or something related to a research project you may be engaged in (or just uses sounds related to one of your strong interests).

If you have not gathered sounds, see above for links to some resources.

Assemble the clips in Audacity to tell a story. Use multiple tracks so you can overlap as needed, and or use fade in / fade out so there are no abrupt changes. Think about using an ambient sound as a background. The basic steps for doing this (and some useful things to know about Audacity) are shown here (40 mins) and as well in this screencast (15 mins).

Here is one such example done for a school project

And you can find many more as responses to the DS106 Sound Effects Story assignment.

Upload your final audio (exported as MP3) to SoundCloud and then you can embed the sounds just by pasting it's SoundCloud URL into a blank line of your editor in Moodle or WordPress (other blog platforms can use the SoundCloud HTML embed code).