Of Babies and Creepy Things

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This week, I took a dive into the big, fat, hairy, scary world of DIGITAAAAAAL AUDIO-DIO-DIO-dio-dio.

Seriously, having completed the assignments from this week, I’m starting to feel like there’s nothing I can’t do anymore. This was my Everest. This was my frozen-with-fear, never-gonna-make-it-over-this mountain.

But I totally did it. And believe it or not, I totally enjoyed this week, even though I didn’t get to play around with the class material nearly as much as I wanted to. (which still means I ended up listening to and reading way more than was required, but still…)

For starters, I’d like to give a shout out to some super-awesome, not-nearly-as-intimidating-as-I-thought resources that made all this work, and work awesomely.

I got to work with Soundcloud quite a bit more this week, and I really started to feel quite fluid with it.  Uploading files, joining groups for sharing daily creates, finding the html code to embed the widgets onto my blog, following along with others’ tracks and viewing their comments at specific times – I’ve come to feel like a pro at all of this.  Which is beyond amazing.

Also, I started an account with Freesound.org this week.  What an awesome resource!!  What in the world can’t you create with this at your fingertips?!  This was a super exciting way to find sounds to use in my creations, and I especially loved discovering how well organized the site was, and how easy to use it all was, both to listen to the bytes, and to download them if desired.  You will find no creativity blocks on this site.  And that’s a beautiful thing.

While This American Life is not in itself necessarily a resource, I found this week that it and its host Ira Glass are awesome sources of inspiration and an excellent example of how to use sound in a compelling, engaging manner.  I admit that I had not heard of this show before this week, but I am absolutely in love with it now.  Besides, if you want to learn to do something well, observing the work of the best is a great way to start!

The absolute scariest thing that I learned to use this week probably was Audacity.  I have been exposed to sound programs like this for years – YEARS, I tell you, and have never wanted to even try to understand them, much less to use them.

But this week, I did it.  All the way through to embedding my finished work onto my very own website.  Who in the world am I?? I don’t even know anymore! But honestly, I’m not sure I care too much – I absolutely love how empowered I feel with just the things I’ve learned to do already in the first month of being a part of ds106.

But now, down to the nitty gritty.  Here’s a breakdown of the things I’ve focused on this week.

The Experts on Storytelling

I really enjoyed listening to Ira Glass and Jad Abumrad had to say about the field of art through sound.

I shared my thoughts and my notes from these videos earlier in the week, but I will share the highlights here, as well.  The most helpful points in what Ira shared were the basic building blocks, and his big tip for beginners.  He shared that every story needs two basic building blocks – the first, being a sequence of events, pushing the story onward, like a train, and the second being the ‘why’, or the ‘why do we care’ part of the story.  His tip for beginners was to understand that the work you create in the early years is pretty much all going to be crap…and that that’s okay.  He encourages artists-to-be to just keep pushing through, and keep creating, to push through the crap and get to the good stuff.  As I’ve been feeling horrifically insecure about my own work this week, this advice was quite timely for me.  Jad’s biggest point for me was that, through the art of storytelling by audio only, we are empowered to share our ideas, but allow the listener to paint the picture for their own selves.  He encourages us to seek a connection between the sharer and the listener, so that such a transaction can take place, and alludes to what a powerful interaction this is, when done right.  The visual was touching for me, and I really felt like he got to the heart of the matter here with this.  What is art, after all, if you can’t share it? And what better way to make it meaningful to those you share it with than to give them the paint brush and let them create it based on their own experiences.

Of course, listening to Ira Glass lead me to discover This American Life.

The Pro In Action

Haven’t never heard of Ira Glass before this week, I was curious to explore some of his work, so I could better judge how to take his advice on the field.  So I found myself listening to Ira’s story from a couple of weeks ago, The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar. Wow, what a powerful, compelling story.  This story sparked some deep conversation between me and my son this week, and left me pondering the emotional stamp the story left on me as well, even up to now.  This story has it all – action, conflict, mothers fighting for their babies, confused identities, ruthless, obsessive searches for the truth by parties from various sides at different times, and living souls from various sides of the tracks, still around and able to share their sides of things.  From what I can tell, Ira used the simplest of sound techniques to compel the listener, but it would seem that perhaps he has learned that sometimes, less is more.  Or maybe, he has simply learned how to let the story highlight itself when it is compelling enough on its own.  Either way, I decided Ira’s was a job well-done in this story.

Owning Our Station

I had an absolute blast listening to ds106 radio this week, as I expressed in this post here.  Getting to know some of the regular participants, and getting to experience the playlist on AutoDJ was much more rewarding than I had counted on.  Once again, the work for this class did not feel like work.  It’s fun when my son asks me ‘you’re doing schoolwork??’  Priceless.  Yup, I sure am, buddy. :)   I think my favorite way to listen so far is through iTunes – simply by clicking on the link on the ds106 radio site, and opening the download there, takes me to a cool little bumper, and then a fade into the ‘now playing’ track on the station.  It’s been a lot of fun popping in and out of the station all week.

The Rubber Meets the Road

The dreaded Audio Assignment.  Not one, but TWO audio assignments for the first week, not to mention the audio needed for some of the daily creates I did.  But as I said above, I joined freesound.org, and I downloaded Audacity.  I learned to download sounds from freesound.org, and I learned how to import them into Audacity.  I even learned how to trim tracks, use a few effects, make the tracks mono rather than stereo, move them around as an entire track, or to just copy and place certain tracks or parts of tracks.  I learned how to export the files so that they can be listened to by others, and I successfully downloaded them onto Soundcloud.  From there, I successfully obtained the html code and embedded them into the appropriate places on my blog.  How exciting!!  Look Ma, no hands!! ;)

Just Make Art, Dangit!!

I’m really not too sure what happened with me this week.  I had thoughts and ideas for almost every single possible daily create that came up this week.  I even did most of them as they came up.  But I posted nothing the day of, and most of them I didn’t post at all until I had to for the assignment.  That’s not like me at all.  I enjoy sharing art with my classmates, no matter what the angle or approach.  It’s just fun to share.

But this week, I just got nervous.  I started to think that maybe all the college-aged students were getting annoyed with me always posting kid-based items.  I started to get annoyed that I couldn’t quite make the pictures in my head match reality.  I started to think that maybe my ideas weren’t worth creating.

And that’s a dangerous place.  As you can see, in the link above, I did finally post my ideas.  They’re not all I wanted them to be, but they are mine, and I am proud of myself for them.  And in retrospect, I still did more than I was required to this week, by doing 4 instead of 3, so I guess I’ll take it. :)   I do still need to go back and learn how to make a track play backwards, since I did that one a different way, but still, I’d like to just know that I can do it if I wish.

So Wait…What??

This has been a crazy-busy week.  I had my first paper due in one of my other classes, on top of all of my other usual work for my classes, and that scared the living crap out of me.  Then I got insecure, because I knew I was spewing crap, and I know I can do better than crap.  Surely I can do better, if I can recognize my own work to be crap when it is, right?  And then, I’ve got Ira Glass in my face telling me that creating crap is a good thing, and that I should create as much crap as I possibly can.  Which is confusing, yet inspiring and encouraging.

And then I’ve got my beautiful, brave, creative, independent daughter.  As I’m stressing out trying to figure out how I’m going to get everything done, and done to my standards, she comes out of her room, singing a half-made-up song to herself, wearing her Princess Peach costume dress, with a scarf she stole from one of her stuffed animals tied around her forehead, and a mini light-saber hanging from around her neck.  She is the fiercest, singin’-est princess you will ever meet.  If you threaten to smudge her nail polish before it’s dry, she will drop-kick you with her princess ninja kicks and you won’t know what hit you.  Because she wants to, and she doesn’t care.  Scared to death of heights, she’ll push herself up to the top of the jungle gym at the playground, just because she refuses to allow fear to keep her from doing something.  Terrified of speaking in front of our entire church, she’ll sit and force a smile and some deep breaths, and bravely take the mic and walk onstage to tell the entire adult church the story of Noah, in the insightful way that only she can, at her own pace, with grace and style.

And I wanna be like her.  So I post my crap proudly.  Because she told me she knew I could do it.  So I did. <3

Teh Awesome

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