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Friday, May 23, 2008

Cassette Casualities

posted by on May 23 at 10:23 AM

The mixtape - that iconic token of new affections, the pre-Napster method of sharing music, and that basic rite of passage for anyone with a love of music and a dual tape deck Ėcontinuously reminds us of its earlier significance by remaining a fixture in the pop culture lexicon. Yes, people can still make playlists and burn CDs for their friends and loved ones, but everyone is at least a little cognizant of the ceremony and dedication thatís been lost with these new formats. The world of mp3s is certainly a convenient and exciting new place, but this new frontier is not without its casualties.

In college, my partner had a mixtape known as The Hour of Power Mix. It was an hour-long tape with 60-second snippets of popular songs. The idea is that listeners were to drink a shot of beer at the beginning of every song. After an hour youíve ingested 60 shots, or roughly 5 cans of beer. While this particular mixtape certainly didnít have the same romantic connotations as the mixes that are frequently celebrated in blogs or Promise Ring songs, it definitely fulfilled its role as a rite of passage. I can only assume that thousands of college students out there had Hour of Power mixtapes.

But for the life of me, I canít figure out how to make an Hour of Power mp3 playlist on my computer. It doesnít appear to be possible without downloading recording software or sitting by iTunes to skip ahead to another song every 60 seconds. The future is truly a cold, dead place. I want my dual tape deck back.

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Oh fuck me.

Download Audacity here:

It's free and insanely easy to do what you want to do. It will take LESS time than to dub a mixtape, AND you will learn something new.

To complain about having to download a free and awesome audio program to do something cool is beyond lazy.

Posted by eric w. | May 23, 2008 10:45 AM

I was like 60 SHOTS! No way!! You'd die. Then I saw it was beer.

Posted by trent moorman | May 23, 2008 10:52 AM

thanks for the suggestion, eric. not so much of a thank you for mistaking my general technological ineptitude for laziness. i actually already have Audacity for converting vinyl to mp3s, but i wasn't aware i could import files from an mp3 library. so yes, that does appear to be a very viable method. let the binge drinking commence.

Posted by brian cook | May 23, 2008 11:33 AM

In iTunes, you can select a song, do a cmd-I, click on Options, and you'll see where you can set the start/end times for a track.

Unfortunately, you can't do this in the bulk edit mode.

Posted by Tiktok | May 23, 2008 11:59 AM

Audacity would be a big pain in the ass for this purpose. In my experience, it is very slow at importing mp3s.

Garageband (or Soundtrack), Abelton Live or something like that would be faster on the mac. Otherwise, on a PC, something like Acid works well, because each mp3 is just a loop and you can drag the edges to size it how you want it. You can also easily put cross-fades in and stuff like that. The result is one big mp3, but there is probably a way to export each loop separately and then build a playlist that way. But that seems like kind of a pain in the ass to me.

You might also want to check out MusicIP (PC,Mac, or Linux). It has this scan function that kind of does exactly what you want on any playlist you create. You set the length of how long you want each tune to play. I think you can also set an offset of some kind, so it will start playing x seconds into the song. Unfortunately, the maximum scan length for this is 30 seconds. So it's not perfect for you purposes. But it is easy.

Music IP Mixer is also kind of like Pandora for your mp3 library.

It analyzes the songs in your library against a data base on its server. This can take a while if you have obscure stuff in your library.

Then from there, you can choose a song, songs, or artist and then tell it to make a a mix (or whatever) based on the style of that song. The free version is limited to 75 songs. The pay version ($20) is unlimited.

I'm actually pretty surprised how good the mixes are that it generates. It also allows you to do things like tell it not to repeat an artist in a mix for x number of songs. This is something I wish iTunes did. I love a random mix, but I hate it when the same artist keeps popping up in it.

Anyway, this program is not quite as smooth as iTunes. You need to be a bit more of a geek to get it working. But it works pretty well as a compliment to iTunes (at least on the mac you can export the playlists you make in MIP into iTunes and use them there).

Posted by j-lon | May 23, 2008 12:43 PM

Brian, your posts sounds more like you don't want to download something than you don't know how. In any event, my apologies if you were offended.

Posted by eric w. | May 23, 2008 12:47 PM

Sorry to keep posting, but j-lon, I don't know what you're on about. It literally took about 7 seconds for Audacity to import "Consoler of the Lonely" from my music (a 320kbps mp3, no less). Then it took me another 30 seconds to clip it down to 60 seconds AND put a fade on the end of it. Then about another 7 seconds to export it back to MP3.... STILL faster than dubbing it old school.

Posted by eric w. | May 23, 2008 1:09 PM

@7 - Audacity does actually seem like the easiest way to do this, though that might be the case simply because i have some familiarity with the program. However, i've definitely had more than a few problems with Audacity when doing vinyl conversions. Weird noise issues, freeze-ups, clipped sections of songs, lost files... again, i'm not the most computer savvy person out there, so it may be user error, but i have had to use their troubleshooting guide on multiple occasions.

Posted by brian cook | May 23, 2008 1:39 PM

Maybe it's just that my machine that's slow, but when I've tried to import mp3s into audacity on my Mac it always takes way longer than 7 seconds. I've found garageband and other programs to be much faster.

And on the PC, I'd rather use Acid for something like this. But Audacity is free.

Posted by j-lon | May 23, 2008 6:46 PM

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