Chuck on the Clash

I listened to the Stay Free podcast a few months ago. It’s Chuck D of Public Enemy narrating the story of The Clash. It bleeds off the edges of our ds106 80s theme, as The Clash was late 70s-early 80s and PE was late 80’s into 90s and beyond, but it connects. I thought it would be interesting to analyze one minute of the production to see what went into it. I played the first minute of the show with Soundflower as my audio output, and recorded it into Audacity with Soundflower as the audio input. Then I exported the recording as an mp3 and uploaded it to SoundCloud. (Hopefully it stays there for a while.) One of the things you can do with SoundCloud is annotate audio. You can stop playback and add a comment at the point where you stopped.

I marked every time I heard an edit – where it sounds like different recordings were spliced together. I counted six, which isn’t a big number in itself, but it shows a lot of work that went into that one minute. Just the physical act of putting the parts together so that they flow smoothly and are evenly balanced would take time, even in the hands of an expert. On top of that is making, finding and indexing the recordings, and planning how to bring them together. Good planning makes the production easier though.

That work pays off in the way the piece holds the listener’s interest and attention. I especially like that little shift from where it sounds like Chuck D is on the other end of a phone call to where it sounds like he’s right there with us. That could be two recordings spliced together or one recording with some kind of phone filter applied to part of it. Either way, it activates our attention without being distracting.

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