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Audio Mashup Construction Kit

Audio Mashup Construction Kit

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Published by Gary Taylor Lees
the definative guide to digital music creation, mixing, sampling, mash ups etc, software not included buy it yourself.
the definative guide to digital music creation, mixing, sampling, mash ups etc, software not included buy it yourself.

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Published by: Gary Taylor Lees on Mar 13, 2012
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When a track with a variable tempo starts to drift off of ACID’s grid,often the simplest thing
to do is to split the track and realign the remainder to the beat grid.Ideally,you want to do this
before the beats get too far misaligned,but not so frequently that every measure is a new chunk.
Each time you split the track and move the audio,there is the challenge of making it sound
smooth so that there are no sudden changes in the audio signal.The track shouldn’t sound like
it was cut up.

So how often do you need to realign a variable tempo track? A general rule is that when you
can hear the tracks obviously misaligned,it is too late in the timeline.It’s important to fix the
problem earlier in the timeline,before you can even hear that there is a problem.Fortunately,
with ACID’s zooming tools,you can often see that there is a problem before you can hear it.

First,create a rough beatmap to get a general tempo for the track.In Chapter 7,when you
beatmapped a track with a constant tempo,you repeatedly doubled the amount of audio
material you were syncing,refining the overall tempo each time until you had a high level of
precision.This technique will not work on a variable tempo track.Each time you double the
amount of audio material,the drift may double as well,and if you skip too many measures,
you may actually line up measure 99 in ACID with measure 100 from the audio track.For
this reason,if you are to obtain an overall average bpm,it’s important to step through the entire
audio file,adjusting ACID’s beat grid every few measures to realign it with the song’s beats.
Alternatively,you can manually count the number of measures as you listen,and then adjust
the tempo until the last discernable measure lines up with the corresponding beat grid in
ACID.If finding the average bpm gets too confusing or laborious,you can simply use the ini-
tial tempo,although the likelihood of needing multiple beatmaps increases (as described later).

You can get a reasonable tempo approximation only if there are small variations in tempo. For more
radical tempo shifts, you will need to use the duplicate and re-beatmap method outlined later.

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Chapter 9—Beyond the Beatmapper: Handling Uneven Tempos

After you’ve performed this beatmapping process,you’ll have a track that starts out perfectly in
sync and ends up perfectly in sync,but drifts considerably off the beat grid somewhere in the
middle.The following steps show how to fix the drift (the next section contains a step-by-step
example of the cut-and-nudge technique):

1.Draw an event as long as the entire track starting at beat one.You can do this with a
Ctrl-click with the Paint tool.

2.Solo the track in question and turn on the metronome (in the Options menu).This will
create an audible click on each beat of ACID’s grid when played.

Use the preview slider in the mixer window to adjust the metronome’s volume, if necessary.

3.Play the project,and listen to the click track gradually lose sync with the audio file.

4.When you notice that the clicks and beats are becoming misaligned,place the cursor
about halfway between the audibly misaligned point and the last beat that was perfectly
aligned (beat number 1 in this case).If you prefer extra precision,or if you have difficulty
hearing the misalignment until it’s very obvious,you may want to go back even more
than halfway.

The point at which you place your cursor is somewhat flexible,but it should be close to
a clearly visible rhythmic element that is close to,but slightly offset from,an ACID beat
grid line.

5.After you’ve identified an obvious rhythmic sound (often a kick drum or a snare),zoom
in and place the cursor right before the sound’s attack.You may need to zoom in a few
times and reposition the cursor.

6.Press S on the keyboard,split the audio into two separate events,and reposition the
second event so it now starts exactly on ACID’s beat grid.

Speeding Up

If the song’s tempo has drifted lower,the second event will be too late,and you will have to
shift it earlier a bit in time,to the left on the timeline.When you do this,you will be moving
the new event so it partially covers the old event—only the small bit of audio after ACID’s
beat grid has occurred,but before the audio file’s rhythmic event has actually occurred.This
small bit of audio will be lost in ACID XPress,and cross-faded in ACID Pro 6.For this rea-
son,it’s important to realign your track frequently enough that the adjustments are not jarring
or audible.If the rhythm seems to lurch forward at your transitions,you may need more fre-
quent adjustments.

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148Chapter 9—Beyond the Beatmapper: Handling Uneven Tempos

Sometimes, the rhythm doesn’t seem to lurch forward, but there is still an audible glitch between
the two events. If your split point is in the middle of a sung phrase or big note, sometimes the
brief drop-out can be quite annoying. Additionally, ACID’s default mode is to create a quick fade
when an event ends or starts. This is to prevent clicking, which can occur if a waveform jumps in
value suddenly. The key to preventing this rough transition between events is to find a very quiet
place in the audio, where not so much is going on. This doesn’t mean you need to find a new
realignment point. Your new event is properly aligned; it’s just that the transition is audible. The
usual solution is to extend the edge of the second event backwards in time (using the draw tool)
until the transition occurs at a quieter and less obtrusive point.

ACID Pro 6 handles these sorts of transitions more gracefully due to its automatic crossfading
feature. However, when you’re dragging a clip to the left, the beginning of the clip is automati-
cally crossfaded from the previous clip, making the crisp attack you’ve identified fade in instead.
When this happens, simply drag the beginning of the second clip to the left to a point slightly
before the attack of the second event, and then drag the end of the first clip to the left as well,
so the crossfade is totally completed before the attack occurs.

Slowing Down

A different set of circumstances happens when the song’s tempo has drifted higher,and the
second event is now too early.You will need to shift the second event later in time,to the right
on the timeline.This can create a jarring gap in the audio that needs to be filled in.Again,this
is best done by using the draw tool to drag the left side of the second event to the left until it
meets the previous event,or overlaps in the case of ACID Pro 6.With ACID XPress,you may
need to drag it a bit further if you can find a better transition point that doesn’t have a lot of
sound going on.It’s important to extend the second event to the left,filling in the gap with the
quiet portion of the waveform preceding the attack,rather than extending the first event to the
right,creating a nasty double attack.

Sometimes you may simply not be able to smooth out the transition between your clips even
though the rhythm sounds accurate. No matter where you place the transition before the cor-
rectly timed attack, the switch between the events is audible. You’ve tried adjusting the fade-in
and fade-out points to no avail. What you need is the smoothing cross-fading of ACID Pro 6, but
you are working with ACID XPress. If this happens, duplicate your track, delete the second event
(right after the split) from the original track, and then delete everything except this event from
the duplicate track. Drag the beginning of the second event from the new duplicated track
slightly to the left so that it overlaps the first event. Then select both events on the two tracks
and press F on the keyboard to automatically crossfade between events.

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