Tag Archives: audio

Don’t let your music hold back your competition score

dancer-with-music-flowers.jpgIt’s that time of year…. when hours upon hours of dance rehearsal are getting ready to be brought to the big stages of competitions. Dance parents have poured hundreds upon hundreds of dollars into lessons, dance teachers have poured their heart and soul into creative choreography, costumes have been chosen and tried on, competition fees have been paid, and hotel rooms booked.

Dance teachers are doing their best to insure every aspect of the dance is as clean as a whistle. Entrances and exits are tight. Costumes, hair, and makeup is perfect and ready to go.

There’s just one thing left, that some choreographers forget to clean, and that is their music. There are several things you want to check, to make sure your music is as clean and perfect as it can be for competition.

Transitions: Make sure that every transition is precise and smooth. Hiccups, jumps, pops, or other glitches take the audience and judges out of the moment, distracting them from the beauty of the dance. In addition, bad edits can make it more difficult for the dancers to stay on tempo. Precise transitions, on the beat, are made far easier when you align the music to a tempo grid. Click here for more information on Finding the Tempo.

Lyrics: CHECK YOUR LYRICS. Judges will MAKE DEDUCTIONS for inappropriate language used in your music. There is no need for these deductions! Why risk the thousands of dollars that have been invested in your dance with an unnecessarily lowered score? You wouldn’t put your dancers on stage with tattered costumes, so why would you put them on stage with lyrics that have the potential to offend a judge?

Volume: Make sure you have not accidentally lowered the volume of your music in the editing process. Older songs can often have the volume raised without distortion in a process called mastering.

Clarity: Make sure you are not using a song imported from YouTube (more explanation on why). The quality often suffers and that loss of clarity will be amplified in a theater or convention hall.

If any of your songs needs cleaning, Squirrel Trench Audio is at your service. We have cleaned songs for lyrics, transitions, volume and clarity many times, and have literally helped dance studios increase their scores because of it. Use this request form to get your music cleaned! Squirrel Trench Audio also has clean versions of many songs ready to choreograph. For instance, here are clean versions of:

DON’T LET YOUR MUSIC HOLD YOU BACK FROM THE BEST SCORE YOUR DANCERS CAN ACHIEVE. 

Uptown Funk Clean Lyric Sheet

bruno-mars-snlAs the creator of the popular clean edit of Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson, featuring Bruno Mars, I was recently asked to supply a lyric sheet of this cleaned version.

Here is a link to the PDF of Uptown Funk (Squirrel Trench Clean Version) lyric sheet.

The full-length clean version of Uptown Funk is available here on Legitmix for only $4.99. This clean version features the exciting intro as performed on Saturday Night Live, as well as being sped up slightly for maximum excitement while retaining the fantastic groove.

In some cases, the words “sexy” and “flaunt it” need to be taken out as well. For those instances, we have the super squeaky version where that has been eliminated also:

In addition, there are five edited versions available for just about any dance routine you might need; 2:58, 2:46, 2:32, 2:16, and 1:59. They are available individually for $9.99, or you can buy every length for $11.99:

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Lyrics that have been eliminated from these clean versions include “damn” “bitch” and “put some liquor in it”. “Sexy” and “Flaunt it” have also been removed from the super squeaky clean version and the shortened versions. Click on the above PDF link to see the full lyric contents. Words that have been eliminated are shown with a strike-through.

We also do custom editing, so if you need a version of Uptown Funk, but didn’t find exactly what you need here, use the online Request Form here.

Katy Perry, Queen of the Super Bowl

katy perry chessmenWhile 2015’s Super Bowl was one of the finest from a sports perspective, Katy Perry’s halftime entertainment may have stolen the show. Inspired by this amazing spectacle, this Queen of the Super Bowl mix features the first two numbers from this performance, Roar and Dark Horse. The length is 2:41 for a jazz or hip hop dance routine.

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The reason you don’t want audio from YouTube videos

youtube logo (6)There are many reasons why it’s a bad idea to extract audio from YouTube.

1) It’s illegal.

2) Even pristine audio is somewhat degraded since YouTube uses mp3 encoding of any audio submitted. In many cases, it’s an mp3 of an mp3 of an mp3….. and the audio gets worse every time it’s re-encoded in this manner.

3) But if the above reasons are not enough to convince you it’s a bad idea to extract audio from a YouTube clip, then realize this:  In many cases, what you are listening to on a YouTube clip is the room in which the audio was played. Even if the clip doesn’t have audience noises, like coughing, moving around in seats, and other assorted venue noise, the audio is playing back over a sound system, and being picked up by a microphone, along with all of the reverb, reflections, and echoes of the room in which the music is being played. All of these things combined downgrade the audio, sometimes a little bit, and sometimes to the point of pure garbage. But it’s never as clear as it could be. And once degraded in this way, there is no practical way to restore it, except to go back to the original source. That is why, when creating music edits and remixes for dance teachers, Squirrel Trench Audio always goes back to source audio whenever possible.

If you want GOOD, CLEAN audio, DON’T get it from YouTube!

Squirrel Appreciation Day!

squirrel-jazz-hands-iconGuess what day it is? GUESS. WHAT. DAY. IT. IS! It’s Squirrel Appreciation Day! (No, I have never heard of that before either, but I guess it’s really a thing.)

In honor of Squirrel Appreciation Day, it is our turn to appreciate YOU, our fabulous clients who keep Squirrel Trench Audio busy with all of your custom music editing and remixing requests! And to show our appreciation to you, we are giving away a FREE edit of Colbie Caillat’s beautiful song “Try”, which is perfect for a lyrical dance. Get your FREE copy of Try right here on Legitmix:

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Uptown Funk (Clean version) – album now available

uptown funk jazz handsDue to the runaway popularity of our clean version of Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk, we’ve created an album containing every length (six) of this song, that we’ve created to date. Our clean version of Uptown Funk is super-smooth – no awkward hiccups to interrupt the song’s funktastic groove! Most of our clean versions also include the exciting intro as performed on Saturday Night Live – an intro which is not heard on the iTunes release of the song.

This album contains six different lengths of the song, and is a terrific bargain at $11.99, a savings of 78% compared to buying each version of the song individually!

The six versions of the songs are: 4:28 (full length), 2:58, 2:45, 2:32, 2:15, and 1:59. One of the lengths is sure to be perfect for your jazz, tap, or hip hop competition or recital dance routine.

Grab your complete Bruno Mars Uptown Funk Clean Version album now! Or just purchase the length you need for your dance routine!

If you know what length you need, click these links below to get it. Each edited version is $9.99; or the full-length version is $4.99:
4:28 (full length)2:582:452:322:151:59

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Two minute songs for dance recitals and competitions

Here is a collection of music, edited and remixed for your dance routines that need be two minutes or less, no matter if it’s being used for competition, recital, or talent shows. These songs cover a range of dance styles, including jazz, tap, lyrical, and contemporary. Some of these songs are fresh off the charts, and there are a few classics mixed in as well. You can purchase any of these songs individually, or you can buy the entire album of 16 songs for only $34.95*. That is a very large savings compared to buying all of them individually. Best of all, they are ready to be choreographed, no further cutting is required.

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*The price for this album of 16 songs is $34.95, if you already own all of the original songs in it via your iTunes library. If you don’t already own some of the songs, you can purchase them for $0.99 or $1.29 as specified, when you checkout at Legitmix.

For those new to Legitmix: The way it works is that when you want to purchase an edited or remixed song, Legitmix checks to see if you already own the original song(s) in your iTunes purchased list. If you already own it, you only pay for the edited or remixed song in your shopping cart. If you don’t already own the original song in iTunes, you have the opportunity to buy that too, at the normal iTunes cost (usually $0.99 or $1.29). For more on how it works, you can watch this video, or go to the Legitmix site.

Take a listen and take them home if they are what you’ve been looking for! Feel free to leave any feedback in the comments below as well.

Five songs for your next tap routine

Here are five songs, each with a taptastic groove. Each of these songs is already edited to the right length for competition (two-minute versions for recitals are also available for most of them). Click the play button next to any song below to hear it, and if it’s your song, click it’s name to put it in your Legitmix shopping cart and take it home with you.

  1. Lips Are Movin – Meghan Trainor
  2. Calling All Angels – The Town Criers (a cappella)
  3. Come With Me Now – Kongos
  4. Hit Me – Dirty Loops
  5. Get My Name – Mark Ballas

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If you need a custom edit or remix, click here for an online form to get started.

CD-quality versus mp3-quality – What’s good enough?

A recent comment on a dance facebook group asked for some further explanation on the differences between CD-quality audio (lossless or uncompressed) and mp3-quality (lossy or compressed) audio.

I thought I’d share my explanation on the subject here.

cd.gifBecause mp3s were created when the internet was new, and slow modems were used to connect with it, they have gotten somewhat of a bad rap because early mp3s were at such low bit-rates, that they truly sounded awful. However, as bandwidth has increased rapidly over the years, it’s possible today to get high quality mp3s that are virtually indistinguishable from CD-quality audio.

The audio quality in stores like the iTunes store or Amazon mp3 store are now quite good. Not CD-quality exactly, but on virtually all sound systems that the music will be played on, no one will be able to tell the difference.

I have had the misfortune of working with some really cruddy music sources supplied to me, and once music is degraded (which I will explain more below), it can’t be returned to its original form. It would be like ripping up a costume and then trying to put it back together with duct tape – yuck. So here’s what you REALLY want to watch out for: DO NOT USE MUSIC SAVED FROM A YOUTUBE VIDEO.

CD quality is a very high standard of music quality. Even better forms of digital audio exist, but this is irrelevant for the dance world and dance purposes. Here is a list of format qualities, from fantastic to poor:

  1. CD quality (usually stored as either AIF or WAV format)
  2. m4a/AAC — iTunes store quality, 256k bit rate
  3. mp3 — 256k or higher, variable bit rate – this is nearly as good as iTunes store quality. Most people on most systems won’t hear a difference between this and CD quality
  4. mp3 — 128 k or lower bit rate—- this is where you start to hear what are often called “swirlies” especially in the high frequencies of the music.
  5. The worst possible digital music is music that is saved as an mp3, and then saved as an mp3 again (possibly more than once). This is how audio from YouTube gets to be so bad.

Bottom line: For dance studios, rehearsal, recital, competition – mp3 at 256k or higher variable bit rate, or m4a at 256k or higher bit rate, are going to be fine, with one very important caveat: as long as the song has not been resampled/resaved in mp3 format more than once. And this is precisely why music taken from YouTube ranges so wide and far in quality…. it can be nearly pristine, or it can be severely degraded, depending on how it arrived there.

Just like cassettes in the old days: if you recorded a CD onto cassette, it didn’t sound too bad…. just a small amount of hiss was added. But as soon as you start recording cassette to cassette — you are left with practically nothing but noise after just one or two such transfers. The hiss becomes nearly as loud as the music!

Well, that’s exactly the same thing that is happening with an mp3 to mp3 copy, and this is where compression comes in that you mentioned six comments above (lol). When you save music as an mp3, indeed, you are compressing it, compared to CD-quality which is uncompressed. The mp3 encoding throws away some of the “less important” details of the music in order to save space in the storage of the file. If you take a CD, and save it as a 256k-rate mp3, you can barely even notice any difference. But if you save a 256k-rate mp3 as a 256k-rate mp3, now you are throwing away even more detail. And low-quality YouTube videos have music that is encoded as a 128k-rate mp3. So if a person takes an mp3, and then uploads that as the music of their YouTube video, now you are listening to the same thing in essence as a cassette-to-cassette transfer. If you then save the music track from the YouTube as an mp3 on your computer, and remix or edit it and save the result as an mp3, now you are doing the same thing as a cassette-to-cassette-to-cassette transfer. So if the music sounds awful at that point, well, now you know why.

Here’s an example of audio that sounds terrific on YouTube. Especially if you click the quality setting to 720p HD or higher. (Switching the YouTube video to an HD setting increases the audio quality to the highest available.)

 

Here’s an example of music that has been pretty severely degraded, as a 48k bit rate mp3. This would be similar to saving a 96k-bit rate mp3 more than once:

On the above clip, if you go back to the start of the video, you can hear what it sounds like as a very high quality mp3. Every 30 seconds, it’s played as a lower and lower quality mp3.

If you have any questions about CD-quality, m4a/AAC, or mp3 audio quality, please comment, and I will answer to the best of my ability!

Creepy music for creepy routines

zombie_dancer_by_slice14414-d32ff86Happy Halloween!

Ghouls, ghosts and goblins will appear at your doorway tonight, and if you have dancers who would delight in dancing a routine with deliciously macabre music, we have some selections that would be perfect in our Legitmix store. Here are our spooky and/or creepy offerings:

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