Recording - June 2016 - 56

By Paul J. Stamler

Part 18: The Digital Audio Workstation-II
1

2

In the last article I talked about the functions of a
DAW being divided into three parts. The first two are
emulations of equipment in a 1970s/1980s-vintage
recording studio: a multitrack recorder and a large
mixing console, the latter with associated racks of signal processors. This time I'm going to look at the third
leg of the DAW triangle, which isn't really like anything in a traditional recording studio.
3

4

56

RECORDING JUNE 2016

Cut and paste
That's what I call the "word processor" function of a DAW. Like the
word processor I'm using right now, a DAW lets the user cut out pieces of
audio, paste them back someplace else, and copy them at will. So far, at
least, DAWs can't do spell checking (unless you count Auto-Tune?).
To illustrate this, I've created a fictional scenario. Let's say that, during the recording of the klezmer tune that is the spine of these articles,
Will Soll had played a clam (bum note) on the tenor banjo. (For the
record, he didn't; I told you this was fiction.) And let's say that the clam
was one note in the descending sequence that follows each verse.
There are several ways to fix this sort of error. One would be to mix
down another take of the song, using the same mix settings as the
"keeper" take, then splice in the offending note. Actually, the more
effective way to do this would be to splice in the entire descending
sequence-it's a lot easier to splice a sequence than a single note.
That's how I usually handle clam problems. Over the decades I've
gotten to be pretty good at editing; if I have to fix something, I follow
the rule of cutting on the note before the one I'm fixing, so that I come
into it clean. (A friend who's a biophysicist once told me that gene
splicers work the same way.)
But there's another way to do it that only works on a DAW - you
couldn't really do this on an analog multitrack, practically speaking.
What I did, to illustrate this method, is shown in Figure 1: I copied the
descending banjo figure from a later verse of the song and made it a
separate snippet of audio, which I called Patch04 (you can download
it at http://is.gd/RECFirstSteps18). I dropped a marker at the (fictional) spot where the flawed banjo run began, and lined up the patch
with the marker. I listened to the combination of the main track and
the patch to verify that I had them lined up right.
Then I manipulated the DAW so it would crossfade from the main
file (containing the fictional clam) to the patch (take a look at Figure 2,
which is a closeup of the area I was working on). I used a very quick
crossfade at the beginning of the patch (about 1.9 milliseconds, or a
bit under 1/50 of a second) and a more gentle one at the end (43
milliseconds). I did a short test mix, which I called "Mixed Patch"; you
can download that one too, from the same URL. I can't hear the transitions into and out of the patch, even on headphones. If this were a
real clam-fix, of course, I'd be mixing down the whole song, with the
patch overlaying the bad segment.
Copying and pasting a part from another section of the tracks is
called "flying it in", and it's a common practice in pop music recording.
If a band does a particularly nice version of a song's chorus, it's common to fly it in over other, less stellar choruses-or, like here, fly in a single instrument or voice from later in the take, or from a different take.
Provided, of course, that the musicians played at a consistent tempo.
You couldn't really do this kind of manipulation on 2" tape except on
a very limited scale, and that's one reason DAWs became popular as
soon as they were introduced. Another reason is that you can use them
for Scott Dorsey's favorite DAW trick: you can slide tracks back and
forth along the time (horizontal) axis to bring them into phase alignment,
and thus avoid comb filtering when they combine (see "The Phase
Monster", Recording, Nov-Dec 2014).


http://is.gd/RECFirstSteps18

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - June 2016

Contents
Recording - June 2016 - Cover1
Recording - June 2016 - Cover2
Recording - June 2016 - 1
Recording - June 2016 - 2
Recording - June 2016 - 3
Recording - June 2016 - 4
Recording - June 2016 - 5
Recording - June 2016 - Contents
Recording - June 2016 - 7
Recording - June 2016 - 8
Recording - June 2016 - 9
Recording - June 2016 - 10
Recording - June 2016 - 11
Recording - June 2016 - 12
Recording - June 2016 - 13
Recording - June 2016 - 14
Recording - June 2016 - 15
Recording - June 2016 - 16
Recording - June 2016 - 17
Recording - June 2016 - 18
Recording - June 2016 - 19
Recording - June 2016 - 20
Recording - June 2016 - 21
Recording - June 2016 - 22
Recording - June 2016 - 23
Recording - June 2016 - 24
Recording - June 2016 - 25
Recording - June 2016 - 26
Recording - June 2016 - 27
Recording - June 2016 - 28
Recording - June 2016 - 29
Recording - June 2016 - 30
Recording - June 2016 - 31
Recording - June 2016 - 32
Recording - June 2016 - 33
Recording - June 2016 - 34
Recording - June 2016 - 35
Recording - June 2016 - 36
Recording - June 2016 - 37
Recording - June 2016 - 38
Recording - June 2016 - 39
Recording - June 2016 - 40
Recording - June 2016 - 41
Recording - June 2016 - 42
Recording - June 2016 - 43
Recording - June 2016 - 44
Recording - June 2016 - 45
Recording - June 2016 - 46
Recording - June 2016 - 47
Recording - June 2016 - 48
Recording - June 2016 - 49
Recording - June 2016 - 50
Recording - June 2016 - 51
Recording - June 2016 - 52
Recording - June 2016 - 53
Recording - June 2016 - 54
Recording - June 2016 - 55
Recording - June 2016 - 56
Recording - June 2016 - 57
Recording - June 2016 - 58
Recording - June 2016 - 59
Recording - June 2016 - 60
Recording - June 2016 - 61
Recording - June 2016 - 62
Recording - June 2016 - 63
Recording - June 2016 - 64
Recording - June 2016 - 65
Recording - June 2016 - 66
Recording - June 2016 - 67
Recording - June 2016 - 68
Recording - June 2016 - 69
Recording - June 2016 - 70
Recording - June 2016 - 71
Recording - June 2016 - 72
Recording - June 2016 - Cover3
Recording - June 2016 - Cover4
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