Learning experience

Learning or experience, or both? Who knows? It has to be a combination I think, which sits at odds with things I used to believe, that learning meant sitting still and reading a book. I didn’t learn as much as I should have done that way, and my grades showed it. I got bored, I looked at of the window and wrote poems about trees and girls, all the stuff the lovable but messing-up kid does in films, a kind of budget Owen Wilson, a bit older.

Same as me, really. Sort of. No, really.
Same as me, really. Sort of. No, really.

Video Killed The Radio Star

I looked-up Owen Wilson on a movie database. He came out with the kind of thing I’d say:

There’s that great quote from Beckett, I think, ‘He had an abiding sense of melancholy that sustained him through brief periods of joy.’ 

Why? Because I know that feeling. I live that feeling. It’s not altogether a bad thing, but that’s the way it is. But I also recognise the academic slopiness betrayed by the ‘I think,’ the attitude that says look, I’ve read quite a lot of stuff and if I’m just generally quite charming and seem assured I can usually get away with saying things that maybe perhaps aren’t entirely accurate, because to be honest, charm beats rigour.

As it should and it’s fine unless you’re say, building a motorway bridge or doing neurosurgery, but it’s not the nicest thing to know about yourself. You see? You see what I mean?

But the learning experience, well, there have been several this week. For the first time in a long time I went out and interviewed someone on their territory.

The Monday Lifeboat Party show, my radio slot now has two interviews all lined up and sort-of ready to go. Almost. Except one I recorded onto CD and I can’t get it off onto my editing software because my CD drive is bust and I can’t unwrap the files from their email format and the other one is just about edited and now I can’t burn it to a CD because my CD blah…..

Technology. It’s not the studio’s fault. This is my own kit that’s broken. The learning was one of those usual learning things. I’d never edited sound before. I got about an hour and a half of material from the first interview, about forty minutes from the second one in Walberswick. That one I recorded on my iPhone. Depressingly, the sound quality was way better than on the expensive digital recorder I got just a couple of years ago, really good, easily as good as the studio recording.

It's a bit over the top for editing audio tape, isn't it?
It’s a bit over the top for editing audio tape, isn’t it?

But too much of it. I had to learn to cut bits out of the recording and join it back together again. It used to be done with magnetic tape, a guillotine and glue. You’ve seen it in the films.

Just kidding and anyway, it’s all done, like most other things (yes even that, or arranging it, anyway) these days on a laptop. It took me hours to get started. What I should have done is listened through with a piece of paper and a pen and marked-up where I wanted to cut.

The first ten times I cut anything I deleted the entire track and had to re-load it from the place Steve Jobs at Apple had thoughtfully put a spare, knowing I’d probably do something like that. Thanks for looking out for me, Steve. You don’t get that from Bill Gates, just 46 questions asking you if you really want to do that are you sure you want to do that are you really sure you want to do that and do you feel lucky, well do you punk? And we all know how that one ends.

But then it clicked, literally. I got it. I found how to cut. I found out how to cut just at the start of a word so there’s no silence and no dreaded Splicer’s Disease, where words get merged into each other so that people talking about a delightful cream-coloured jumper ruined when someone fell out of a punt changes utterly when you cut the wrong nine words and six letters. And as always, after I’d learned how to do it  I couldn’t really imagine a time when I didn’t know how to do it. It’s so easy. Except until you learn it by doing it, it really isn’t. Which makes learning a much more complicated thing than I’d ever really thought about, but I’m thinking about learning a lot this week.

This morning a final listen through and see whether I can be bothered to cut the coughs and intakes of breath (no, just normal ones, it wasn’t that sort of recording). Then find a way to get it onto the mixing deck at the studio. I might go in on Sunday and see what I can do. A day you don’t learn anything is a day wasted, after all.


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