Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Speech Enhancers, and Crazy People

I recently sent in some audio for my part in an upcoming skit at one of the podcasts I enjoy. The podcaster emailed me back, letting me know that there was something resembling a "noise gate artifact" left in the audio, and could I please check and remove any effects. I hadn't added a noise gate, and didn't even know what a "noise gate artifact" was, Google being no help at all.

So, I was retelling the story to some of my band students today, and they were all laughing at me. My trombone player, who is a skilled musician on other instruments and whose father is a musician as well, explained to the class. "A noise gate is something you do to your audio to reduce clicks, pops, and other background noise from your recording. It uses some of its' own sound to cover up the unwanted sounds, so a noise gate artifact is when the sound it uses to cover up unwanted sound creates its' own unwanted effect."

"Oh, cool," I said, trying to act like I'm still the musical expert. "Well, it turns out that there wasn't a noise gate at all. But when you do a Basic Voice track in GarageBand, it apparently adds a Speech Enhancer effect by default."

"What's a Speech Enhancer effect?" asked one of the other band kids.

Mr. Trombone Know-it-all piped up again. Without as much as a teeny smile, he explained, "That's the effect that fixes it so when you say (faking his best redneck voice) 'Gee, golly, I ain't feelin' good at all today' covers it up and makes it say (sounding like a British robot) 'I. Am. Not. Feeling. Good. Today.'"

And you guys wonder why I like teaching band... Shame on you!

Checking out the news today, I'm just heartbroken over how a group of people can take their rage over a legitimate issue and turn it into something so out of control that they lose all credibility. When things don't go the way you think they should, that's a perfect opportunity to speak out in a confident but measured way to work toward greater justice and understanding. When you take that opportunity and completely violate it, you should not be surprised when people begin to make even greater generalizations and misunderstandings about the group you are claiming to speak for, whether you're truly speaking for the group or not. Freakish anger, vengeance, hatred, and random violence have never solved the problems of any individual or group, and will always just create more problems in the end.

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