Thursday, March 11, 2010

Soundtrack Evaluation

First, crowdsourcing a technical question:
Those of you who remember the pre-iTunes CD era and actually still listen to CDs produced that long ago will probably know what I'm talking about. For a while, it was the "in" thing to hide bonus tracks or "Easter eggs" in the last track of a CD. If you stopped the CD after the last song ended, you wouldn't hear it, but you left the CD playing, after a couple of minutes of silence you'd hear a bonus track or something like the band goofing off, the singer as a child in her first recorded performance, etc. When you were just playing CDs, it wasn't a huge issue because you could always stop the CD if you didn't want to hear that part, or you could just tape the parts of that track you wanted.

But with iTunes and playlists, etc., where you're stuck with the whole track if you want any of the track, those Easter eggs become very annoying. You don't really want to have a couple of minutes of silence and then some childish warbling stuck in the middle of your playlists. Or you want just the song and not the silence and then the bonus song, or you just want the bonus song instead of the "official" track and the silence in between. Is there a way to edit these tracks to create something playlist-friendly? I have several CDs where the final track on the disc is pretty much unusable because of the Easter egg silliness, and then there are the bonus tracks, like the lovely acoustic version of "Possession" (which I like better than the original) that's hidden behind the final track on that CD and which I'd like to be able to put independently on a playlist. There's got to be some utility that allows you to cut off the excess from a track and save it as an MP3. I suppose it would also be handy for cast albums when you just want the song and not the bits of the show they stick around it. For instance, on the CD for a recent revival of Man of LaMancha, there's a gorgeous version of "Dulcinea" sung by Brian Stokes Mitchell, but then on the same track they go into an interlude and then the villagers mock him in cartoonish voices, which ruins the beautiful song. I think there's one track on that whole CD that can be used as is on a playlist without it being utterly annoying because they stick too much extraneous stuff on each track. I've gone through most of the audio and movie-type utilities that came with my Mac, and there doesn't seem to be anything that works that way.

This was easier with reel-to-reel tape, splicing tape and a razor blade. I used to be really good at that.

This came up as I was reviewing my soundtrack for the book I'm working on and thinking about what else needs to go on it. I'm forcing myself to really listen to the current soundtrack and make notes about what that song really means about the story. I'm finding that I put some songs on the soundtrack because of an idea that didn't pan out. Then there are some that I put on for one reason, but now they mean something different entirely. That's given me some ideas for future scenes. I've got a whole page of notes for the second half of the book, so far.

I did find that there's an emotional current that really shows up in the soundtrack that isn't playing out in the book to that extent. I think part of that is because it's a feeling/issue that's had a lot of songs written about it, so I had more material to include in the soundtrack than I had for other aspects of this story. Plus, I tend to really like those songs, so I included all the ones that made me think/feel that way instead of picking a few that were very specific to what I wanted to convey. I think I also expected that aspect to progress further than it has at this point in the book, and I don't think it can progress quite as far as I expected in the second half without going too fast. Some of these songs are actually more applicable to the second book, if there is one. At the same time, it might not hurt to weave a little more of that into the first half of the book. I may have avoided it a little too much.

How's that for cryptic?

Okay, this is the romantic subplot, and I've mentioned previously how gun-shy I am about that. Because I used to write romance novels and because what people remember about my Enchanted series is generally the romantic subplot, editors seem to have me mentally classified as a romance writer. I even had a book proposal that I didn't think was all that romantic rejected by fantasy publishers on the grounds that it was too much of a romance, mostly because they seemed to assume that the fact that there were male and female protagonists and the synopsis mentioned the development of feelings meant the book would be basically a romance. So now I find myself going overboard to make it clear that This Is Not A Romance. Some feelings may develop, but there are a number of very good reasons why these characters aren't ready to act on these feelings. The romantic subplot mostly focuses around them trying to fight or deny their inner feelings while not showing any signs of having them and while being sure those feelings aren't returned. And there are a TON of songs along those lines. However, those feelings aren't developing at the pace I expected, and I don't think it makes sense to accelerate them. So I guess maybe this book won't get labeled romance. Yay.

Not that there's anything wrong with romance. But what I write isn't romance, and romance publishers aren't interested in it (because it's not romance, duh), so it's annoying when the fantasy publishers label my work romance and reject it on those grounds. Though I suppose they could have been being "nice" instead of just saying that I suck.

1 comment:

Carradee said...

I know QuickTime Pro can split MP3 files like that. I just found this with a quick search.

Your description of your leading pair's (lack of) romance sounds fun! I'm getting a flashback to Han and Leia's bickering, but fun!