Tag Archives: audio

Prince tribute for dance studios

Purple-RainIt is with great sadness to learn that the amazing musician and talented artist, Prince, has passed away. For many of us, his music is an integral part of the soundtrack of our lives.

It has been my honor to edit and remix some of his amazing music for dance studios and dance teachers. If you are interested in using a Prince song for a dance routine, here is an edited version of one of his songs that has amazing funk, yet is not very well known. It’s popular with the kids these days to say “Werk it!” but more than 30 years ago, Prince was already singing “Let’s Work!”. Enjoy this edit!

Here is Let’s Go Crazy from the movie Purple Rain. This version has all objectionable lyrics omitted, has been remastered, and edited specifically to be optimized for a jazz or tap dance routine:

And for dance studios interested in a mix that pays homage to “The Purple One”, we are pleased to present this 3 minute mix that includes five of Prince’s more popular hits:

This 4:55 production mix starts with Let’s Go Crazy, and includes Let’s Work:

This 4:45 production mix is similar but starts with Purple Rain:

You can get ALL of these Prince edits and remixes for an amazing bargain price in this album:

Get more Squirrel Trench remixes at Legitmix

Importing songs from iTunes into Audacity

audacity imageFor dance teachers who need to edit their songs for length, it’s not always clear how to get songs from iTunes into Audacity. There are several ways you can do it:

  • You can drag-and-drop the song file from where it’s located in your iTunes folder onto the Audacity program icon.
  • You can choose File -> Import and then select the song you want to edit
  • You can drag-and-drop the song file icon from where it’s located in your iTunes folder straight onto the open blank Audacity edit window.

If you haven’t done so before, you will also need to download and enable the FFmpeg import/export library in order to convert the m4a file. There is no cost to do so, and it can be done quickly and easily by going to Preferences -> Libraries and clicking “Download” under the FFmpeg library listing.

If you want to export your edit as an MP3 file, you will have to download and enable the MP3 library, which can be done from the same place as mentioned in the previous paragraph, namely Preferences -> Libraries, and then click Download under the MP3 library option.

For more information, check out this Audacity Importing help page.

If you want to save the time and hassle of editing songs yourself, be sure to check out the Squirrel Trench Audio library of more than 300 edited songs and remixes (almost all of which have been cleaned of objectionable lyrics), ready for purchase and instant download on Legitmix. Below is a small sampling of what is available. Click through to the Squirrel Trench catalog on Legitmix to see more selections:

Get more Squirrel Trench remixes at Legitmix

Protect your hearing at dance competitions

hd-bw-solo_1024x1024We all love the music that our routines are choreographed to, and that’s why dance competitions usually play your music really LOUD. Sound pressure levels of greater than 95 decibels are common in competition venues. You can easily get an approximate measure of the sound pressure level of any environment you are in with a free smartphone app. (I use Decibel Meter-Free for iPhone.)

Most dance teachers and choreographers are unaware that exposure to sound sources at these volumes (94 db or more) for more than 60 minutes consecutively can cause permanent hearing loss (source:National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)).

That is why I ALWAYS use hearing protection at dance competitions. You can use the cheap, foam type found in pharmacies, but that type tends to muffle the sound, and is therefore not enjoyable to use. I use Ear Peace protectors, which reduce the volume uniformly across all frequencies. The result is that the music sounds just as good as without the ear plugs, but the sound pressure is reduced so that you don’t damage your hearing or leave the competition with a splitting headache. I find that music actually sounds BETTER at competitions or rock concerts with the ear plugs than without, because at super-loud volumes, music actually distorts in your ear drums. Best of all, you can get a pair of HD Ear Peace protectors, with carrying case, for less than $20.

The other great thing about Ear Peace protection is that you can still have conversations with people that are next to you.

Just as you wear sunglasses in bright sunlight situations, consider hearing protection to be the equivalent device for your ears in loud settings. Do yourself a favor and protect your ears the next time you are at dance competition, especially when the solution is quite inexpensive.

Proud to sponsor YPAD’s new memberships

ypad-logo-webI am proud to be an Advisory Panel member of the organization Youth Protection Advocates in Dance (YPAD). YPAD has just launched a membership option to further their mission to educate dance choreographers, studio owners, teachers, parents, and competition owners about the harmful effects of creating hypersexual routines for students.

And therefore, it is natural that Squirrel Trench Audio, your source for clean edits and remixes for dance studios worldwide, would be among the first to help sponsor YPAD’s new membership levels. In this exclusive opportunity, becoming a YPAD member will give you a discount of 10% off all of the clean music in the Squirrel Trench-Legitmix catalog. (There are currently more than 300 clean edits and remixes in the catalog, and more are frequently added.) Becoming a YPAD member will not only help further YPAD’s education mission, and get you other benefits, but it will also enable you to buy your competition and recital clean edits and remixes at a 10% discount.

Learn more about YPAD Membership here, and then make the purchase to get your Squirrel Trench-Legitmix discount code!

Check out the Squirrel Trench Audio catalog of clean edits and remixes on Legitmix:

Get more Squirrel Trench remixes at Legitmix

You can view clean edits and remixes by dance style here.

How to convert a song to MP3 in iTunes

apple logo with headphonesiTunes is non-intuitive when it comes to converting a song from one format to another.

iTunes can convert audio into any of five different formats, AAC (which has an m4a extension), AIF, Apple Lossless, MP3, and WAV. But right-clicking on a song only shows you one choice to convert to, and your conversion option is only whatever you have your CD import settings set to! (It doesn’t really make a lot of sense, but it is what it is.) To change it to MP3, just go to Preferences -> General -> Import Settings, and select MP3 Encoder.

When you do, be SURE to set your MP3 import settings to:
• Stereo Bit rate: 256 kbps
• [check] Use variable bit rate encoding (yes)
• Quality: Highest
• Sample Rate: 44.100 kHz
• Channels: Stereo
• Stereo Mode: Normal
• [check] Smart Encoding Adjustments (yes)
• [check] Filter Frequencies Below 10 Hz (yes)

(Click for more information on the proper settings for MP3 files.)

If later, you need to convert music to a different format that iTunes supports, then follow the steps listed above, but select the destination format that you want to convert to. For example, if you need a WAV file, then select WAV in your Import Settings, and once you do that, Convert to WAV will be an option when you right-click on a song.

Congrats to Boca Dance Studio 1st Place Overall!

Katie Westrich of Boca Dance Studio has taken 1st Overall at Ticket to Broadway competition, with a routine that features a custom Squirrel Trench-created soundtrack! This wedding-themed production routine is quite elaborate, featuring a large gazebo prop, dancers of all ages, and a variety of music and dance styles! Congrats to Katie and all of her dancers! Enjoy this fun routine!

Wizard of Oz Production mix

wizA few years ago, I created a custom, 6-minute Wizard of Oz mix for Kimberly Houli’s Dance for Joy studio in New Jersey. This mix includes munchkins, movie dialogue, sound effects, and more. She used it as a grand opening piece for her recital, and you can see a video of it below.

Because it’s been several years since this piece was originally created, Kimberly has agreed to let this soundtrack become available for purchase by other dance studios. Take a listen and see if this is right for your next Wizard of Oz recital or competition production!

Listen to and purchase this remix here on Legitmix:

Get more Squirrel Trench remixes at Legitmix

Congrats to Kaelyn Gray’s Code Name Vivaldi tap routine!

The GiantRenowned tap choreographer extraordinaire Kaelyn Gray recently had her Code Name Vivaldi tap routine win StarSystems’ 2016 Louisville Regional’s best routine in the 13 & over category.

After receiving the award, Kaelyn knew that, while it had a great soundtrack, it really needed a better ending. In order to deliver the ending she wanted (normally not possible, since this song, by The Piano Guys, fades out instead of ending strong), I employed virtual software instruments to re-create an entire orchestral string section consisting of violins, violas, cellos, and double-basses, along with a squadron of drummers on marching toms, a two-story tall upright piano installed in a Manhattan skyscraper, and a Concert Grand piano in an Austrian concert hall.

Here’s what Kaelyn had to say after she got the result back:

“Throwing a shout-out to THE Morriss Partee…..dang he is amazing at his job.

Yesterday I had a piece debut for the first time, a dark tap piece that I had never seen in costume (or even began the cleaning process for that matter) so I was a little worried it would blow up in my face…..Plus, I edited it myself and it was an original fade-out song which I really hate for tap, so I put a very lack-luster ending note on there that was just displaced and boring.

The kids ending up smashing it and it ended up the top scoring 13 and over routine of the weekend (Happy surprise!) I thought if it was going to be that good it definitely deserved a stronger ending…..so I messaged Morriss Partee and not even an hour later my email had a new edit ….. GUYS. Holy cwap. He literally manufactured the same instruments in the song, using 3 different grand pianos, an orchestra of violins……he went ahead an “polished” the entire track for me to make it sound sparkly and new again, since I had sped up the music tremendously to fit the speed of my taps. The new ending is perfection and intense!!!!

I love people who are passionate at what they do and share it! Thanks so much Morriss for being there for me and for delivering nothing but the best!!! GOOOO MORRISSSSSS!!!! ‪#‎kickballchangejazzhand‬ “

— Kaelyn Gray, tap choreographer
Expressions Dance Theatre, Crescent Springs KY
& founder Tap Dance Tutorials/#bringtaptothepeople
February 8, 2016

42nd Street, Minus Taps

42nd_logoHave you ever wanted to create a tap dance routine with the song from the original broadway soundtrack? Prior to today, this has not been possible, because the sounds of the original tap dancers are embedded in the audio of the song. But thanks to highly advanced audio processing software, along with skill and hard work, I am pleased to offer the Original Broadway Cast Recording of 42nd Street, MINUS TAPS. All embedded tap sounds have been removed as much as possible. Click to hear this choreography-ready version!

Get more Squirrel Trench remixes at Legitmix

When saving edits as mp3s, always choose 256k or higher

11882514-ear-and-sound-waves-Stock-Vector-hearingFor all of you fabulous choreographers who edit your own music: When saving your music as an mp3, NEVER save it at anything less than a 256k bit rate. Why is this important? Because when you save it at 128k or lower, you are telling your computer to throw away some of the detail in your music. You may not hear the difference on your laptop or iPad’s speakers, but when played on a good sound system (like in your studio, or at comp or recital), it won’t be as clear. And it just gets worse if you open up that same low-res file and re-edit it again.

Also worth noting: once you save an edit as a low-res mp3, re-saving it at a higher rate later does not fix it. Once you’ve saved it as a low-res file, then it will always be low res.

I know all the “export” or “save as…” options that are presented in most audio processing programs are greek if you don’t know the details or reasons behind the choices. Way too many of the music edit files I get for repair are saved as 128k mp3 files, and it makes me sad to know that dancers are not dancing with the cleanest version of their music possible, for no good reason other than the choreographer was not aware that saving at a 128k rate (or lower) degrades the audio noticeably.

Also, if you are not sure what the quality of an mp3 is, there’s a fairly easy way to tell, by checking the file’s size in Mb. A 2.5 to 3-minute edit saved as an mp3 or m4a should be roughly 5 to 6 Mb in size. If it’s only 2 to 3 Mb in size, then you know it’s low-res, and too much audio quality has been thrown away.

I can easily understand why this is such a problem. While you are working on the file, it sounds fine, because it hasn’t been saved to a low-res format yet. And when you save it as a low-res mp3, you can’t immediately HEAR that it doesn’t sound as good as what you have been working on. In other words, the quality gets reduced when you save it, but you don’t even know that that has happened. So I am very happy to help spread the word. Now you know!

Bottom line: When doing a “Save as” or “Export Audio” to an mp3 file, always choose the 256k rate or higher!