Issue 1: Editing Kite Ballet Music

One of the most difficult decisions our kite team has to make each season is choosing a piece of music to use for our ballet routine. When looking for music we want a piece that has an interesting beginning so we can grab the judges’ attention, a varied mid section that lets us display different types of maneuvers and skills, and a powerful ending for a BIG FINISH, to leave a lasting impression on the judges. While providing all this, the song must be between 4 and 5 minutes long.

A music piece that fits all of these requirements doesn’t come around often, and when it does it is probably being used by more than one competitor. Rather than fly to music that everyone else is using, some fliers will splice two or more songs together to get the piece they are looking for. Most logical splices occur during pauses in the music (otherwise the edit sounds abrupt), which limits the possibilities for the finished piece. This article is about how we used a software tool to expand the possibilities of performance music editing, without a studio full of sound equipment.

Our latest ballet music was created on a personal computer with a CD-ROM drive and sound card, using a software program called GoldWave. GoldWave is a fully featured music editing program available as shareware at GoldWave gives you all the tools you need to splice multiple songs together, add effects, increase/decrease speed, and produce very professional, seamless results.

Last season, our team decided we wanted to fly to techno music to exhibit sharper, synced maneuvers in our routine. The problem with a lot of the music we were interested in was that it tended to be too long, with not much variety through out, and usually had a fade-out ending. Since one song alone did not meet all our criteria, we decided to combine four songs to create our finished piece.

Using conventional editing methods would have made it very difficult to achieve the results we wanted, if at all. Spectators and judges would have been cringing at the sounds coming out of the P.A. system if we had done it the old way, using the start/stop buttons on the tape deck. With GoldWave, however, the end result sounds like we paid the musicians to record this piece just for us. Here’s how we did it:

I first recorded all the sections of each music piece I wanted to use by loading the music CD’s into my CD-ROM drive and recording them as .wav files. GoldWave gives you a recording tool that looks like the controls on a tape deck, so it is very intuitive. (The advantage to using the GoldWave tool is that you can choose the length of the recording up front. The standard Win95 recorder limits the length of your recording.)

For the intro we used a fanfare from the ‘Superman’ soundtrack that terminates in a big crescendo. Right as the crescendo reaches it’s peak I inserted the beginning of the instrumental version of ‘Get Ready For This!’ which starts with a loud synthesizer beat and an echo that trails off. By zooming in on the waveform display that GoldWave provides I was able to paste the two pieces together at the exact spot so that it sounds like the crescendo from Superman is the beginning of the next song.

Our main piece is the “Get Ready” song, but to add variety I mixed both the instrumental and the vocal versions together at different points. One section we wanted to use was a female vocal that would allow us to create rounded maneuvers rather than the sharper maneuvers the rest of the song implies. To create a smooth transition between the two versions I used the ‘mix’ command, fading one section out and the next one in, while overlapping them.

We wanted to use a drum solo section for some groundwork, but in the original cut it happens too late in the song. With GoldWave I was able to clip it out and move it to the exact spot where we wanted it and again use the ‘mix’ command for a smooth transition.

To add emphasis to this groundwork section we decided to add some rap lyrics from “‘Whoomp There It Is!” which we mixed into the background of the drum solo. This piece had a different tempo than the “Get Ready” music, so I increased the speed prior to blending it in using the pitch control feature in GoldWave.

One problem we ran into was in creating an ending for the whole piece. “Get Ready For This” has a fade-out ending in one version and a rather weak ending in another, so we didn’t want to use either. To get the big ending we were looking for we had to actually take the beginning of “Get Ready'” and insert it at the end, adding a reverb effect, then fading it out.

The end result was a piece of music similar to what you’d hear on a TV sports show; professional and seamless, like it was one piece right from the start. The fact that the music source is digital (CD), and all the edits are done digitally help to keep the music true to its source. I recorded it to tape by purchasing a set of cables at Radio Shack that go from the line-out jack in my soundcard to the inputs of my tape deck.

Having GoldWave available to us has made our music selection a much easier process now. We no longer have to worry about the format of the music, we can just take a song or songs we want to fly to and tailor it/them to fit our needs. If you are looking for a better way to edit your music to expand the possibilities of your performance, give GoldWave a try. Now if I could just find software that will create team maneuvers for us…

Larry Navarro