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An Audio Book, A Scandal, and Sherlock Holmes July 24, 2014

My fiancé likes the sound of my voice and, despite being a fan of the BBC television show “Sherlock” has never actually read any of the original works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I, on the other hand, am the proud owner of a complete copy in the form of an early edition (1927) gifted to me by my mother. Having been actively engaged in the pursuit of inexpensive, yet thoughtful gifts, it seemed like a match made in Heaven. In one brilliant stroke of genius, I determined that I would record myself reading these stories and give them to him for his birthday.

I had been podcasting for a while as a host on Aboard the Knight Bus (an irregularly released podcast centered on four women who united their midlife crises with a love of the “Harry Potter” books). We used Audacity to record and mix our voice tracks and this seemed like an excellent opportunity to expand my skills with the program. So I set to work.

It wasn’t long before I discovered that recording an audio book was not quite the same as hosting a podcast. There were, in fact, numerous differences beginning with the fact that not everything produced in written form was meant to be read aloud. Obtaining the proper meter for the text proved a challenge and I soon resorted to reading each passage before recording it. Even then, the “voice” of the characters didn’t seem quite right and it took several tries before it was possible to distinguish between the accent-less Holmes and the equally American sounding Watson. Add in the Bohemian prince Wilhelm Gottsreich Sigismond von Ormstein (try saying that in one breath!) and a few words which I was not accustomed to pronouncing and what I had was ten percent art, ninety percent mess.

The month was March and it wasn’t long before my original goal of recording and producing a set of five stories before my fiancé’s July birthday seemed a touch over ambitious. Deciphering the technique involved in vocalizing such a production had taken time… and I was yet to hit my stride when it came to producing the program.

Initially, my recordings were a series of disparate tracks: each necessitated by my stumbling tongue. Every time I faltered, I stopped the recording, clipped out the poorly vocalized portion, and began recording again on an additional track which I later joined with the original.
This, of course, was rather time consuming and it wasn’t long before I abandoned the “edit-as-you-go” method in favor of a single, long recording which could later be split and joined at appropriate times. Unfortunately, this, too, had its drawbacks. To begin with, the intonation with which I had produced individual segments was not always entirely consistent with the intonation of the paragraph with which I intended to unite it. The result was a slightly robotic and distinctly “edited” sound. It had become clear that rerecording would be required. And that this work of love was going to require far more patience than I ever could have imagined! (To be continued…)

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