Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

The Sound of Music

The Photographic Studio and Audio Workshop at Rancho Begley, officially designated the “Command Center”.

It all started in the Defiant’s front “bedroom”, since converted by my son into a working office and library. Notice the record turntable in the far corner? Once I hit the road, I methodically sawed through literally hundreds of LPs, 45s and 78s to record them into raw digital form. With no space to store many boxes of records, this was the only way that I could continue to listen to the wide span of music and comedy that I’ve always enjoyed.

Talk about intense activity! Looking back, I don’t know how I kept at it so relentlessly – except for the realization that if I didn’t accomplish recording the whole pile of the most significant works (significant to me, anyway), then they’d have to be given away quickly or trashed without, and so disappear forever.

To cut the time needed to record each disk, they were all played at 78 RPM or whatever speed would allow them to play without skipping. Many records were worn, some were damaged, and nearly all presented the little clicks and scratches that characterize vinyl music. When that task was completed, the digital recordings stayed intact on a reliable hard drive. Now they’ve been waiting years for me to get back to them and translate them into a clean, listenable form that could play on a computer or smartphone accessing decent speakers.

They were recorded off the turntable using Audacity, a free and quite capable audio program. The first step to deal with the result is to pull each file up, rediscover what speed it was recorded at and then alter it to play properly within Audacity. It’s edited to whack off the extra nothingness at each end, as well as any pause recorded while the disc was flipped over to side B. Very few records are clean-sounding enough to export directly into an MP3 format, so that requires a translation into an .aiff file (or other format) that ClickRepair can deal with. ClickRepair is a very capable click removal program that fortunately can do a very credible job when allowed to operate automatically on its own. That generates a “cleaned” .aiff file that can be called back into Audacity or, when necessary, pulled into Denoise (created by the same guy who made ClickRepair) to get rid of background hiss. Whatever. Audacity can then be used to adjust the volume to workable levels, accomplish any final trimming, and export the file into a compact MP3 format that can be played on just about any device extant. To conserve limited hard disk space, the .aiff files must be deleted once the final MP# has been created.  Naturally, all this editing, cleaning and file format translation absorbs quite a bit of time to grind through.

So, as of late, my idyllic camping experience has more resembled a sweatshop of 12-14 hour days tethered to a hot laptop with a couple of external drives. Ah, but the rewards! My taste in music reaches a wide span, and most of these records are not available online today. My motivation to keep going is to envision the time when I can kick back and enjoy the pleasant and notable strains of all the records I once played the hell out of. I’m currently almost halfway through the LPs, which I try not to think about, since those are still just a fraction of all that I recorded. You can’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the scope of the overall project.

So, if you detect a slowdown in blog posts during times when I’m planted in one spot for awhile, you’ll know I’m working my day job. And that I’m occasionally sampling audio awesomeness while I slave away. Not to be heartless, but no, I won’t meet up and do USB stick tradesies or donate gigabytes of what I generate. This is my own collection, and that’s all it represents. With some exceptions, you’d probably find most of it of no interest at all, since most folks tend to stick with one or two basic categories of music. I mean, who else grooves on listening to 78s, or 50s Jazz, or Leonard Bernstein, or Liberace or Mahalia Jackson? I just want to reach the finish line on this stuff and listen to my favorite albums. My suggestion for the music-starved is to record off of your favorite Internet radio channels, which has been a popular pastime of mine. That helps for when your current location is not cellular-signal friendly.

But enough of this. As the saying goes, this job isn’t going to do itself. I have to get back to work!

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11 thoughts on “The Sound of Music

  1. Linda Sand on said:

    So far my music files include jazz, zydeco, and rock N roll. I like a much wider range than that but that’s the ones that were easiest to convert. 🙂

    • Chris on said:

      The beatles white album was my first effort! I have been a reader for a long time, and want to let you know how your bike posts have motivated me to get an evelo orion bike. Thanks!

      • I distinctly remember selling that album at a garage sale decades ago, and the regret has never left! You have my thanks for being a faithful lurker, and I do hope you ride yourself silly on your e-bike! 🙂

        • I got my new e-bike 2 days ago. I love it!!! It was on sale. I wanted to get a “Luna” but took too long to make up my mind to spend so much money. You posted that the “Orion” would be better for towing, so I went ahead and pulled the trigger, $ 1499.00 is a lot of money for my budget!
          I have had the Orion for 2 days.
          I should have bought it 2 years ago! LOVE it! Thank you for the effort you put into this blog, I know that it is not compensated to the level of the benefit that I have experienced!

          • Good gravy, I see that A] Evelo has since pumped up the power on the Orion and thrown in the NuVinci gearhub for an absolute steal on “clearance”, and B] have also seriously revamped their 2018 lineup. Way to go! And now the warranty period is twice what it used to be, probably since they figured out that after the initial shakedown, they weren’t getting any claims, so why not double it? Yep, the Orion has a sturdier frame than my older Aurora, and with the bigger motor does make for a better towing bike than mine when a single-wheel BOB trailer is hooked up to it. The skinnier tires make it need more care off-road, but that’s easy to live with. I can tell ya, you paid well over $700 less than I did for my Aurora years ago for a better towing bike, so enjoy it! That you have benefited in some way from the Strolling Amok blog is plenty of compensation!

            • Gravel road, be careful, but I rode all over with only “Level 1” assist, FANTASTIC! I am 59, female, and very glad to have an e-bike!

              • Yep, life is good.

              • I have been using this bike for a few days. I am glad I have a 500 watt motor, (thanks to you) a lot of the hills here are using 300-500 watts. On throttle only, I can go up the hills here in Prescott. I do see the power sagging on the little battery icon!

              • I’ve found that the only realistic way to gauge how much battery is left is to ride as you normally do on flat ground. The rest of the time, that meter is simply reacting to the load on hills, or coasting. Not that useful for estimating how much battery you have left. That 500-watt motor will actually pull over 800 watts before the overload system kicks in to disconnect it, so you’ve got more muscle available as well as slightly more speed than the 250 when you have to saw your way uphill in low gear. I’m guessing that the 250 motor may pull something like 400 watts before it gives up, so yup, you made the right motor choice for your situation. If there’s one thing Prescott has in abundance, it’s hills!

      • Mary Adachi on said:

        Ummm me! And classical organ, and jazz and tons of stuff. And opera!
        Ok, I studied piano and organ, son #2 plays the trumpet and other brass things and is in a couple bands as well. The other son #1 is a performing d.j. and also remixes contemporary and “”right now” songs for producers who think the artists didn’t do it right the first time.
        Oh… Son’s #2 girl friend is also in the bands, and teaches classical and modern piano, while son’s # 1 g.f. is an on-air “personality”. Used to be called a “disc jockey” but now tone deaf station managers pick the music, not the dj’s.
        So…. we also have a wide variety of music. Extreme, even. But I cheat, my kids do all the hard work of mp3ing for me! :0)
        Enjoy the music!

        • So, other than what you’ve just described, you’re saying you nor anyone you know have nothing whatsoever to do with music, eh? 🙂 P.S.: At the moment, I’m folding in an LP of circus calliope music. An odd find even in its own day!

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