Set your poems to music

Melinda’s Wire poem is just awesome, both in the writing and the reading. The rhythm in the reading is so good that I thought I’d try to add a music track to it. Here’s what I came up with:

I recorded Melinda’s track using Audacity and Soundflower so I could have something to work with. I have the season 1 theme by The Blind Boys of Alabama(YT) in my iTunes (Spirit of the Century is a great album all the way through), so I imported that into Audacity. I edited out the verse sections, which was kind of tricky. When doing something like that, you want the beat to flow evenly through the edits. At first, I had a little stutter where the sections cam together, But I could see the spike in the waveform where the beat was, so I was able to trim it so the beats lined up. It was sheer luck that the instrumental sections that I kept more or less matched the length of the poem. There is a little overlap between the end of the poem and the part where the song’s vocals come back in, but I think that’s okay. It was also a happy coincidence that the rhythm of Melinda’s reading lined up with the beat of the music so well. I tweaked that in two or three places, either shortening or lengthening pauses to make the waveform spikes between the two tracks align.

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I had to adjust the volume balance between the tracks too. I used the sliders on the left to boost the reading a little bit. It was okay over the intro music because there was not much instrumentation, but when the solos came in they started to compete. So I selected that portion, from the start of the lead break until the end of the reading, and used the Filter->Amplify function to reduce the volume of the music. I had to do it twice because the first attempt still left it too loud. You can see below where the waveform is squeezed.

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It was important to adjust the music to her voice rather than the other way around, because i wanted to keep the quality of the reading.

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