Rolling Music Writers' Thread

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i can't believe we're having a digital vs analogue debate in 2010. even a massive luddite like myself has long gone digital.

still pete, if anything happens from the time you record that interview to the time you get it on your computer...

anything could happen to anything! tapes get chewed up inexplicably! someone could step on them! i could be run over by a bus! digital dictaphone puts my mind to rest re: clarity of recording and relative ease of transcribing. if bad things happen i'll deal.

لوووووووووووووووووووول (lex pretend), Monday, 11 January 2010 09:42 (4 years ago) Permalink

I use a horse to get to jobs. There's just too much that can go wrong with the combustion engine.

Doran, Monday, 11 January 2010 09:50 (4 years ago) Permalink

I transcribe my interviews straight from the recorder - don't even import 'em into the computer anymore. And when they're transcribed, I erase the original recording.

neither good nor bad, just a kid like you (unperson), Monday, 11 January 2010 13:12 (4 years ago) Permalink

Speakerphone + Garageband works a treat for me. Just export to Itunes so it's easier to pause and go back.

Stew, Monday, 11 January 2010 14:00 (4 years ago) Permalink

tapes get chewed up inexplicably! someone could step on them! i could be run over by a bus!

Yeah, you joke, but seriously digital recordings can just "go away", if a tape gets chewed up or stepped on you can still salvage it.

ke$nan (Whiney G. Weingarten), Monday, 11 January 2010 14:27 (4 years ago) Permalink

I remember when U2 recorded their last album. They finished, tried to play it back and it had just 'gone away'. Bummer.

Disco Stfu (Raw Patrick), Monday, 11 January 2010 14:31 (4 years ago) Permalink

Just make sure to keep those tapes in their cases. Who knows who's out there roving for binders filled with your interviews!!

kshighway (ksh), Monday, 11 January 2010 14:32 (4 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, you joke, but seriously digital recordings can just "go away", if a tape gets chewed up or stepped on you can still salvage it.

or maybe you can't. analogue tape is a hella vulnerable medium, and i can ruefully say i've lost interview cassettes on tourbuses, had them doused in liquid and left em in my car on a rilly hot day before, and that's pretty much been the end of that.

is harder to misplace a file on a digital recorder i'd protect with my life anyway.

most notably, the bendable (stevie), Monday, 11 January 2010 14:49 (4 years ago) Permalink

I love my digital recorder. Done a few interviews in noisy restaurants--seriously, at one point someone started vacuuming in front of our table--and I was shocked to find that the audio was perfectly discernible.

I too just transcribe straight from the recorder - use the playback function where the speed is slowed down a little bit (though it always makes me sound like a pothead) and it works pretty swimmingly.

scott pgwp (pgwp), Monday, 11 January 2010 22:32 (4 years ago) Permalink

yeah, i do have to say the one real drawback to my cassette tape system is that the audio is often a lil wonky

touch me i'm acoleuthic (Whiney G. Weingarten), Monday, 11 January 2010 22:33 (4 years ago) Permalink

Done a few interviews in noisy restaurants--seriously, at one point someone started vacuuming in front of our table--and I was shocked to find that the audio was perfectly discernible.

I interviewed the DJ at a bull riding competition on Friday night while a band was playing in the center of the arena and his voice was perfectly clear.

neither good nor bad, just a kid like you (unperson), Monday, 11 January 2010 22:43 (4 years ago) Permalink

So what model digital recorders are you all using?

Nate Carson, Monday, 11 January 2010 23:44 (4 years ago) Permalink

...not a music writer, but have somewhat similar purposes - I use a Sony PCM-D50.

nothingleft (gravydan), Monday, 11 January 2010 23:57 (4 years ago) Permalink

Olympus DM-20.

neither good nor bad, just a kid like you (unperson), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 00:02 (4 years ago) Permalink

olympus ws-210s

لوووووووووووووووووووول (lex pretend), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 00:04 (4 years ago) Permalink

Olympus WS-100

mike t-diva, Tuesday, 12 January 2010 00:05 (4 years ago) Permalink

Sony ICD-UX71 - I really like it. I've also used the Sony ICD-B510F (low end model) which does the job but has a few less features (like background noise reduction and slow playback) that feel essential now that I have the UX71.

scott pgwp (pgwp), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 00:44 (4 years ago) Permalink

I erase the original recording.

I forget what the statute of limitations is on libel, but I'd wait that out. And people might be interested in your actual audio someday (or now!).

Pete Scholtes, Tuesday, 12 January 2010 01:25 (4 years ago) Permalink

olympus vn-3100pc. it works fine but it was a panic purchase from radio shack, when i arrived in LA with two weeks worth of interviews booked, and discovered that my minidisk recorder hadn't survived the flight.

shart in a bag, light it on fire (stevie), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 09:48 (4 years ago) Permalink

I use Olympus WS210s at work.

exploding angel vagina (Scik Mouthy), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 11:06 (4 years ago) Permalink

tapes get chewed up inexplicably! someone could step on them! i could be run over by a bus!

Yeah, you joke, but seriously digital recordings can just "go away", if a tape gets chewed up or stepped on you can still salvage it.

― ke$nan (Whiney G. Weingarten), Monday, 11 January 2010 14:27

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^this, sadly. Over the weekend my PC arbitrarily decided to "lose" the first 20 minutes of my 40-minute St3phin M3rritt interview. Gutted ain't the half of it - every other interview I've ever conducted has been recorded on cassette and is still in immaculate condition, and the moment I switch to Audacity...

Background Zombie (CharlieNo4), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 11:16 (4 years ago) Permalink

I recorded a little less than a half hour of audio on Audacity about five years back and I thought it was going to blow up. So much can go wrong between pressing record and hitting save without the user even doing anything wrong.

kshighway (ksh), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 13:55 (4 years ago) Permalink

Audacity is an amazing program, but it is buggy freeware-- not something I would trust to record an interview. Plus its real strength is multi-tracking.

Mark, Tuesday, 12 January 2010 14:08 (4 years ago) Permalink

Exactly.

kshighway (ksh), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 14:09 (4 years ago) Permalink

i have an olympus 960, which i guess is practically ancient now. (i've had it i think 4 or 5 years.) it works great, i've never had a problem. i'm very aware of the potential to easily erase or lose data, but so far i've avoided that -- which puts it ahead of the various problems i've had in the past with cassettes and microcassettes.

and here's a question on transcription: do most people really transcribe their entire interviews? i almost never do that. i generally know the parts i'm interested in, so i transcribe those first. then if it turns out there's more stuff i think i need i'll go back and pick and choose. the average 60 minutes of conversation has about 5 minutes of really good quotes, maybe 10 minutes if you're talking to somebody especially smart and articulate, and anyway you're only going to have room for a handful of direct quotes as it is.

hellzapoppa (tipsy mothra), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 14:45 (4 years ago) Permalink

(the obvious exception is q&a's. which is one reason i really don't like q&a's.)

hellzapoppa (tipsy mothra), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 14:46 (4 years ago) Permalink

i usually transcribe "the good parts" and pick and choose from there

touch me i'm acoleuthic (Whiney G. Weingarten), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 14:56 (4 years ago) Permalink

ditto, who on earth transcribes the WHOLE THING? the process is distressing enough as it is

لوووووووووووووووووووول (lex pretend), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 15:02 (4 years ago) Permalink

man do i hate transcribing

touch me i'm acoleuthic (Whiney G. Weingarten), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 15:03 (4 years ago) Permalink

yeah that's the only way that makes sense to me. i've had some friends and colleagues who for whatever reason feel compelled to transcribe everything before actually getting down to writing -- i guess maybe it helps them to hear it all again -- but that's just so time consuming, especially if it's a full-bore feature story where you've talked to a bunch of different people. i keep pretty good notes while i'm interviewing, so that i can use them as sort of an outline of what's on the recording. (plus i'll write down especially good quotes as i go, if possible, as a backup against something happening to the recorder.)

hellzapoppa (tipsy mothra), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 15:04 (4 years ago) Permalink

We have this argument all the time in the newsroom – that's why notebooks will never go out of fashion. Better to jot down pithy phrases than to waste time rewinding and fast forwarding.

Hell is other people. In an ILE film forum. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 15:07 (4 years ago) Permalink

i do LISTEN to the whole tape again, but certainly dont write anything down

touch me i'm acoleuthic (Whiney G. Weingarten), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 15:07 (4 years ago) Permalink

I transcribe everything, or damn close to it, but I use a lot of quotes in my features. I like to let the artist speak for themselves a lot and only throw in bits of narrative and/or interpretation between, rather than unloading some huge personal thesis and scattering a few quotes on top to support what I'm trying to put across.

neither good nor bad, just a kid like you (unperson), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 15:08 (4 years ago) Permalink

I do both. Depends on the interviewee.

scott pgwp (pgwp), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 15:15 (4 years ago) Permalink

We have this argument all the time in the newsroom – that's why notebooks will never go out of fashion.

when i was a daily beat reporter, i almost never taped anything. just notepad and pen. when you're writing short news articles you can get everything you need that way, and it's a lot faster. but when i started writing longer-form stuff, especially profiles where you really want to give a sense of a person's voice, how they talk and think, i eventually realized i really needed recordings. and one thing i've found is that no matter how good you are at note-taking, you very rarely get direct quotes accurate at anything past about two sentences. you can get the meaning of them right -- and as long as you do that, almost nobody will complain about being misquoted -- but you're going to lose or change some words. (i guess i should say "i" instead of "you," because some people are probably better at word-for-word recall than me. but i bet most people can't accurately write down more than a few sentences at a time while also conducting an interview.)

hellzapoppa (tipsy mothra), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 15:24 (4 years ago) Permalink

That's all true. We've had the other extreme here, though: students walking into offices, plunking down a tape recorder in front of a source, and sitting back, not taking a single note. Tape recorders work best when used as an archive or quasi-database, from which you can pluck information as needed.

Hell is other people. In an ILE film forum. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 15:27 (4 years ago) Permalink

i bet most people can't accurately write down more than a few sentences at a time while also conducting an interview

well exactly - i'm sure i'd be capable of it but to get the best interview i pretty much want to be wholly focused on what the interviewee's saying, listening out for interesting hooks or details that i can pick up on, and if half my mind and one of my hands is concerned with transcribing accurately and legibly, that's not going to happen. an interview should be like a conversation, and taking notes during one would be the equivalent of fiddling with your blackberry while talking to a friend.

لوووووووووووووووووووول (lex pretend), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 15:38 (4 years ago) Permalink

i mean i already get the whole "fuck's sake why didn't i pick up on that" feeling when listening back enough as it is, can't imagine that being less focused would improve on that

لوووووووووووووووووووول (lex pretend), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 15:38 (4 years ago) Permalink

Taping is the only way to get the true flavor of the way somebody speaks, and the amazing thing is that it's never exactly how you remember. I think the little differences matter.

But yeah, for news stories, where what someone says is more important than how they say it, notes are way better, especially, in my case, if it's over the phone and I'm typing. I stopped writing in cursive at a young age and never learned shorthand.

Pete Scholtes, Tuesday, 12 January 2010 15:47 (4 years ago) Permalink

my new year's resolution is to learn how to type :/

touch me i'm acoleuthic (Whiney G. Weingarten), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 15:51 (4 years ago) Permalink

I'm one of the psychos that usually transcribes everything -- although more and more I tend to cherrypick out the stuff I know I might use, especially if I'm pressed for time, but if the whole thing is less than one 45-minute side of a tape I like to get it all down, if only to have a complete transcript in my files.

I got a nice digital recorder for my birthday last year and I've been still using my cassette recorder and putting off making the big switch ever since, mainly because I'm a slow learner with new technology and the thing intimidates me. You guys are making me even more scared, but I really do want to start using it still.

some dude, Tuesday, 12 January 2010 15:51 (4 years ago) Permalink

x-post -- I am eternally glad for the typing class I took in high school.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 12 January 2010 15:51 (4 years ago) Permalink

Taping is the only way to get the true flavor of the way somebody speaks, and the amazing thing is that it's never exactly how you remember. I think the little differences matter.

this is absolutely positively otm. if I was ever an interviewee and someone sat down in front of me with a notebook and no recording device I'd be totally certain of being misquoted and would instantly lose a lot of faith in the writer.

some dude, Tuesday, 12 January 2010 15:53 (4 years ago) Permalink

I used to type 80 words a minute, but my keyboard promiscuity (three or four different Mac keyboards around the office, a PC laptop at home) has destroyed my speed. The keyboard really does make a difference.

Hell is other people. In an ILE film forum. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 15:53 (4 years ago) Permalink

I am eternally glad for the typing class I took in high school.

Eighth grade for me. I can't imagine doing this for a living and not being able to type like 80 wpm (which is about where I'm at).

neither good nor bad, just a kid like you (unperson), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 15:54 (4 years ago) Permalink

I actually think I sped up a lot... by transcribing a lot.

Pete Scholtes, Tuesday, 12 January 2010 16:06 (4 years ago) Permalink

I taught myself to touch type in 1996.

Mind you I lived in Harlow in Essex. There wasn't much else to do.

I transcribe everything and save it as a raw text file on my PC and back it all up once or twice a year onto a portable hard drive. It's pretty anal but I guess you never know when you'll need that quote from so-and-so about that seemingly trivial subject - until you really need it.

I email most of the raw text files to myself as well so that wherever I am I can access them. Just in case, like.

Doran, Tuesday, 12 January 2010 16:09 (4 years ago) Permalink

ditto, who on earth transcribes the WHOLE THING?

unless i'm in a hurry i try to - the times i haven't, i've usually regretted it and gone back to the tape to hear what i've missed, in case there's some game-changing morsel on there

shart in a bag, light it on fire (stevie), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 16:13 (4 years ago) Permalink

i also transcribe every (laughs) in there too, tho sometimes that's just so i can console myself that they laughed at my lame joke

shart in a bag, light it on fire (stevie), Tuesday, 12 January 2010 16:14 (4 years ago) Permalink

One of my writers bollocked me for taking loads of their [laughs] out of the piece that they'd filed. It didn't, they told me, reflect the general levels of hilarity that had taken place in the interview.

Doran, Tuesday, 12 January 2010 16:18 (4 years ago) Permalink


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