Assignment 4: Working with Audio Tracks

What we’re trying to do

What to turn in


The sound files you use in a Reason Audio track can come from anywhere. For this assignment, you must use a sound file I provide for you. As long as you’ve made good use of that file, you may include other sound files.

Get the source sound files — poetry readings — from this web page.

NOTE: You must be on the IU network (or VPN) to download this, or you will get a browser error.

NOTE: You must use one or more of these files in Reason Audio tracks. As long as you’ve done that sufficiently, you may also use them as source material in a Reason sampler.

Sound files have different formats. You should try to use uncompressed formats, such as Wave (.wav) and AIFF (.aiff or .aif). But Reason also will accept the compressed formats MP3 (.mp3) and AAC (.m4a).

Sound files, of course, store data in digital form, using binary numbers to represent the individual amplitude points of a waveform. For some background on the process that turns a sound wave into a stream of such numbers, see Digital Audio, Part 1.

Reason lets you perform non-destructive editing of audio. This means that it will never alter (destroy) your original sound file. You work with audio clips, which are references to segments of the original sound file. You can edit the edges of clips to reveal more or less of the sound file’s contents, but you can retrieve the entire original file later. Older sound file editors offered only destructive editing of audio. Operations one performed in such programs could alter the original sound file. This kind of editing has mostly died out today.

Musical Considerations

Your sequence must last at least 90 seconds. The sound file I give you to work with contains a reading of a poem. You must perform extensive edits of this sound, cutting and pasting it to create a collage of spoken words.

It’s okay to have an extended quotation from the original poem, as long as you also have other audio tracks that include extensive edits.

Try to make a vivid musical statement. You need not preserve the intelligibility of the text. Consider that the reading of the poem is already very musical, in the sense that the speech has strong rhythmic and pitch features.

There are two ways to bring the poetry into a musical setting that uses Instrument tracks.

  1. Find harmony, melody, and rhythm for your Instrument tracks that bring out the latent musical qualities of the poetry.
  2. Impose pitch onto the poetry (via audio pitch correction) to make it fit the harmony in your Instrument tracks.

You are welcome to make use of either, or both, approaches.

I expect you to tell a musical “story” or convey a definite mood using sound. This assignment is not designed merely to exercise your technical knowledge of the software — it’s an opportunity to be creative.

Things you should know how to do

While working on this assignment, try to learn and apply the following techniques. The web pages linked below provide a quick summary of steps to take.

You should know how to...

Copyright ©2013 John Gibson