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Audio? In Premiere? Multitracking on a Shoestring

Go Ahead -- Have Some Fun. It's Better Than Nothing! By Charlie White
Multitrack editing on Adobe Premiere 6While taking some time away from the Midwest Test Facility during the holidays, I found myself constantly humming Christmas songs to myself. I wondered what it would sound like if I could sing, at the same time, all four parts to the Christmas carol that seemed to have taken up permanent residence inside my skull. I could sing each part separately and then edit these together, right? Without so much as a even a cheap microphone handy, I dismissed the idea. But wait. I had a DV camera for capturing Christmas hijinks. I had a decent computer with a DV I/O card and a copy of Adobe Premiere installed. Could I record and edit multitrack audio on this rudimentary setup? Would it be as good as a professional recording studio? Lets see what happened.

Before we get started, I must tell you that I am truly an awful singer, and I know it. But I was a pro musician, a sax player, for many years. So I at least know where the notes are, and can "sight sing," meaning I can read music and sing the notes I see, a skill they taught all of us jazz hep cats way back in music school. So even though I cant sing worth a damn, I decided to try to somehow croak the four parts into my camcorder mic and then see if I could fix it in the mix.


For some odd reason, maybe too much holiday cheer, the challenge of cleaning up the vicissitudes of my laughable singing voice appealed to me. For my experiment, I picked my favorite Christmas song, one written four hundred years ago, called Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming. I started by searching the Web for my chosen song, and lo, I found it blooming on Google on the first try. There it was, a piece of sheet music showing all four parts, along with a midi file playing those four parts. All I had to do was hit the reload button, and the midi file would begin playing at the beginning. In the absence of cyber-sheet music and a midi file, for these purposes you could alternatively use an mp3 file on your computer along with sheet music in hand or in your head.

I grabbed a pair of headphones, set my DV camcorder to record 16 bit audio, and I was ready to go. As I read the sheet music in front of me, I clicked reload on my browser and the midi would start, and I would sing along as I listened through the headphones for tonal and rhythmic guidance -- sort of a rudimentary "click track." First, I sang the soprano part, using my best thin and pathetically mewling falsetto. Then I laid down the alto track, followed by the tenor (the hardest one to sing) and then the bass. After each "good" take, I would note the time code number of its location to make things easier later. After a quick listen, I was sure I needed to double each of the thin-sounding cat-voices, so I recorded each track again, so it would sound more like an almost passable but lousy choir and less like four drunk bastards leaning on a lamppost on some street corner.

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Related Keywords:DV Format, Premiere, Charlie White, audio editing, Lo How a Rose Eer Blooming, multitracking

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