Tap choreographers: It’s Time for Tea

If you choreograph tap or jazz, I have come across the most amazing song for a routine. And it’s pretty far off the beaten path, not a song I’ve ever heard at a competition. I will deliver a squeaky clean version, perfectly edited for a 2:39 routine​. As one dance teacher exclaimed today “This is FABULOUS!”

Listen to the preview here:
Time for Tea (Squirrel Trench Clean 2:39)

If you’d like to get this version, just email me at morriss@squirreltrenchaudio.com!

Ultra clean Run the World (Girls)

Recently, a dance teacher contacted me in an emergency situation. She needed an ultra clean version of Run the World (Girls) for a fellow teacher’s routine. Her response to the result:

“Wow! Thank you so so much! I cannot express how grateful I am that I don’t have to tell 15 parents their girls aren’t performing tonight. I’ll certainly use your services in the future!”

—Brianna Hafen
America’s Kids in Motion

Two ways in which poor music editing can lead to students who quit dance

Recently, there was a great conversation about the value of music editing as it pertains to dance studios in the Facebook group Dance Teacher Network. As I’ve outlined previously, there is much more to quality music editing for choreography than simply making a cut and calling it a day. Good music editing for choreography takes into account song structure as well as employs a variety of audio engineering techniques when needed. But there are two specific cases where poor music editing can completely frustrate a dancer, and in extreme cases, may even lead a student to quit dance entirely!

There are two kinds of poorly executed music edits that can lead dancers to quit: Awkward fade-outs and too much repetition

The first kind of poor music edit is one that robs the dancer of the applause that he or she so very much deserves after performing a routine. This poor choice is when a dance group or soloist’s song is simply faded out without any thought as to how the music should flow from start to finish. These type of fade-outs usually have the performer(s) dancing off the stage at an awkward point in the song; at a point where the audience isn’t expecting the routine to end because the music does not sound like it’s supposed to end. So the dancer is all the way off stage before the audience realizes that the routine is over, and there is a hesitation before they start to applaud. AND, the dancer is now not on the stage to properly feel, and fully receive, the audience’s applause. In extreme cases, this leaves a young, fledgling dancer who is timid, or a little bit uncertain of their dancing abilities, feeling like the audience may not have really appreciated their routine after all. Instead, always put a button on the music to ensure the dancer(s) receive the applause they deserve while on stage!

The second, and even more direct route where a bad music edit can lead to a dancer quitting entirely is when there is too much repeating left in the music edit for a young soloist. This can happen no matter whether it’s a competition solo or a recital solo. When too much repetition is left in the music, it is extremely easy for a dancer to lose track of where they are in the song and thus where they are in the choreography. When the music repeats over and over (especially choruses that repeat and verses that repeat), the dancer doesn’t have the “help” of the music or lyrics to serve as auditory cues as to where they are in their choreo and what comes next.

Properly edited music for dance has all possible repetition removed. This is an aspect that the vast majority of DIY music editors (and even many audio professionals who have not studied the intersection of dance and music) fail to realize. Music with too much repetition retained leads to students who more easily lose track of where exactly they are in their choreo, an especially big problem in solos where you can’t cue off of another dancer. In these cases, the person creating the music edit doesn’t even realize that the repetition in the music is a big contributor to the problem. And if a student doesn’t not have the “help” of the music to help them remember their choreo, then that leads to frustration, which can lead to quitting dance entirely.

I’m sure you have viewed hundreds and hundreds of solo routines in competition as I have, and therefore you know that at a large comp, there will ALWAYS be at least one young soloist who runs off the stage sobbing because they forgot their choreo under the bright lights of the stage. I have come to the conclusion that poorly edited music containing too much repetition is a major contributing factor to these breakdowns.

Of course, sometimes a dancer who forgets their choreo returns later to the stage and performs triumphantly, but some of these dancers decide to quit dance forever right then and there. Why risk it? Why lose young dancers forever due to poorly thought-out music edits? Sure, there are sometimes when a student forgets their choreo, even with perfectly edited music. But no one wants their students to experience these kind of choreo-forgetting melt-downs.

You, as choreographer and teacher, pour your heart and soul into your choreo, into teaching your students, and cleaning their routines. You spend hours picking out the perfect costume to match your choreo. You deserve to have perfect, optimized music to match the effort you put into every other aspect of the dance, and you deserve to have music that actively helps your dancers remember their choreo instead of being a stumbling block.

This is why Squirrel Trench Audio music is created with the UTMOST care and precision — with song structure analysis to eliminate all possible repetition, ensuring that each music edit is a complete soundtrack, start to finish, that is ideal for choreography. Squirrel Trench Audio even has more than 1,000 clean song edits and remixes available in our archives. Check the listing for the songs that you want and email me or use this form to send me your music requests or for more information.

Oh.My.Gosh by The Bunnies from Sing

OH.MY.GOSH is a fun hip hop song from the original motion picture soundtrack of the movie Sing. Oh.my.gosh is perfect for younger kids doing a hip hop routine, except that singing “butt” over and over and over again my not be appropriate for some audiences. Squirrel Trench Audio to the rescue, with a perfect and squeaky clean version of the song, where ALL instances of “butt” have been removed! The routine length is 2:10. Send me an email if you are interested in this squeaky clean version!

Welcome Dance Studio Life readers

I am pleased to welcome readers of Rhee Gold’s fabulous magazine Dance Studio Life. If you opened up to the inside back page (the Dance bag) section, you may have seen Squirrel Trench’s very first print ad, reproduced here.

Welcome and thank you for taking the time to find this web site! Squirrel Trench Audio has been serving dance studios in North America and worldwide since 2011. (more background here.) We create lyrically cleaned-edits and edits crafted specifically for choreography, of your favorite songs, as well as custom mixes for dance studios, pom teams, gymnasts, figure skaters, fitness competitors, pole athletes, and vocal competitors.

We have an archive of more than 1,000 song edits and remixes, of which 400 are listed here: Squirrel Trench Archives.

We also take custom edit and mix requests; however, due to popularity, we currently have a large backlog of music work. Requests from the archives are fulfilled immediately however. For more information, please email me: morriss@squirreltrenchaudio.com.

 

Edited songs for your dance recital

It’s that time of year again; time to select music for your dance studio’s recital. The good news is that Squirrel Trench is here to save you the time and frustration of aligning waveforms. Instead, browse the Squirrel Trench Audio archives of clean edits and remixes. Every edit and remix is created with recording-studio standards of quality, optimized for choreography. The archive now shows about 400 out of a total of more than 1,000. Special consideration if you’re interested in more than one song:
Squirrel Trench Audio archives

Installation of acoustic foam can lead to death

This type of foam can turn deadly in the event of fire.

I was reminded today of a very somber and deadly episode of club music history. The fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island on February 20th, 2003, killed 100 people. While certainly the lack of a sprinkler system contributed to these deaths, equally contributory, or perhaps even more so, was the MISTAKEN NOTION THAT ACOUSTIC FOAM IS A SOUNDPROOFING MATERIAL.

FOAM IS NOT A SOUNDPROOFING MATERIAL.

It does not prevent sound from transmitting. Not even a little bit.

In a misguided attempt to soundproof the club so that the high volume of music inside would not reach the neighbors, the owners of The Station installed a polyurethane substance that they thought was acoustic foam. (A kind of black foam that is commonly referred to as egg-crate style.) Not only does this type of foam NOT even do ANYTHING to reduce sound, it is flammable, and also emits thick, toxic smoke when set on fire. Polyurethane foam is a packing material, not a soundproofing material.

As someone who has studied and done research on materials that affect acoustics, it angers me that most reporting of the incident describe the polyurethane foam on the walls as a “soundproofing material”. This type of material does NOT function as soundproofing.

That night at The Station nightclub, outdoor pyrotechnics were used indoors, and the sparks emitted ignited the polyurethane foam on the walls near the band. If the foam had not been placed on the wall, there is a chance that the structure might not have caught fire. But with the flammable foam on the walls, not only did it ignite, it filled the entire space with deadly, blinding, and asphyxiating smoke in LESS THAN TWO MINUTES. Here is the Fire Safety Institute’s re-creation of what happened that night. Notice that visibility is near-zero at only 1:30 (90 seconds) after ignition:

With only two exits and black smoke filling the venue rapidly, many people were unable to escape and perished. If the polyurethane foam had not been placed on the walls of the nightclub, there may not have been any fatalities as the space might not have filled with smoke so rapidly. A working sprinkler system would have also delayed the onset of the debilitating smoke.

NEVER USE FOAM to try to sound proof or absorb sound. Period.

Rock wool is a completely inert material

In contrast to “acoustic” foam, rock wool (also known as mineral wool) is naturally inert. (Fiberglass insulation is also naturally inert). Rock wool can withstand a blow torch for more than three minutes and will not ignite. Rock wool is found in the U.S. under the trade name Roxul. Watch this video for proof that a blow torch applied directly for three minutes will not ignite Roxul, and after that much heat is directly applied, the wood behind it is barely warm:

Elsewhere on this web site, I explain how you can make 2′ x 4′ broadband acoustic absorbers using Roxul, fabric and furring strips. For even better flame retardation when making Roxul sound absorbers, use flame retardant fabrics.

Use inert Roxul for sound absorption. 

Never use foam. If you want to reduce echoes and sound ambience in a space such as dance studio, recording studio, or music club, use Roxul as the primary material. Also make sure that a sprinkler system is in place and working.

It is tragic, but there have been several similar fires in music clubs in other parts of the world and the U.S. since The Station tragedy. For all readers of this article, please take heed and use the proper materials to ensure the safety of the people who use your building and spaces. Never, ever put “acoustic” foam on the walls, ceiling or floor of an interior space. Only use rock wool (or fiberglass) insulation.

If you currently have acoustic foam or fabric in your interior space, I urge you to remove it as soon as humanly possible. It is a dangerous fire hazard that could result in loss of life in the event of a fire. If you want to absorb sound, use absorbers made of rock wool. They are relatively easy to build and inexpensive to boot.

Legitmix has shut down; Squirrel Trench continues

It is with great sadness that the music web site Legitmix has ceased operations. Squirrel Trench Audio had a terrific two-year relationship with that company. We hope all of the fine professionals working there have a very productive future ahead of them.

In the meantime, Squirrel Trench Audio will continue to supply you with the clean song edits and remixes that you have come to expect and love. We are still in business, and have been fulfilling dozens upon dozens of orders directly. We are working to find alternatives ways to present you with our catalog of clean edits and remixes, which at this point may be well over 1,000 edits and remixes.

I have begun work on a Google Spreadsheet listing just a few of the clean song edits and mixes created. As always, all music prepared by Squirrel Trench Audio is designed expressly for the needs of choreographers and dancers, and is musically seamless.

View the Google Spreadsheet of completed clean song edits and mixes here.

Continuous music for dance class

Diverse group of children taking a zumba dance fitness class

You no longer have to pause between songs with Squirrel Trench’s continuous music tracks for dance class

Due to popular demand, Squirrel Trench Audio has created the first in what will be a series of pre-mixed, continuous music designed specifically for dance class. These 20+ minute audio files are dance-teacher tested and approved. This set of three non-stop music tracks is designed for younger dancers, and are made for teaching jazz/tumbling, tap, and ballet. Put them together in any order, and you’ve got continuous music for an entire class. No more waiting around for the next song to start or having to stop and advance to the next song in your playlist. Get all three, or get only the one(s) that you need.

Three common problems and fixes when editing or mixing music

clean_music_by_fatihakgungorI love helping dance teachers and choreographers have the most outstanding, powerful, and impactful music possible. It’s an honor that so many dance teachers and studio owners entrust me to fix and clean the mixes they create. When DTs send me mixes, I hear three problems most often. They are relatively easily avoided. Here they are with their easy fixes:

  1. Problem — Timing hiccups
  2. Problem — Volume drops
  3. Problem — Poor audio quality

 

  1. Fix for Timing Hiccups — Determine the tempo of every song and align your work to the tempo grid. That means all cutting, moving, etc, is done precisely rather than via guesswork
  2. Fix for Volume Drops — One reason I receive many song edits or mixes with a reduced volume is that when the audio file is created during the Export process, the “Normalize” option is turned on by default. When there are internal peaks in a song that is bounced down with the Normalize option turned on, this results in the ENTIRE mix being reduced in volume. Do not leave the Normalize option turned on! Instead, make sure Normalize is turned off. To avoid digital distortion in these cases, put a peak limiter on your output bus. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry, because in most cases, a short digital over will not be very noticeable on most sound systems.
  3. Fix for Poor Audio Quality — Use only original sources. Never import an mp3 into your audio program since an mp3 is a reduction in quality. Always save your mixes at at least 256k bit rate mp3, because to go less than that also results in an audible drop off in quality.

Hope these tips and fixes help you as you put together your edits and mixes! Please feel free to ask me any question about any of this since I truly love to help you have the best music you can possibly have for your amazing choreo!