Editing Bartleby

Patrick Grady O’Malley

Editing raw sound files in order to contribute to a cohesive project such as a complete audiobook was very fun and fulfilling. My role was largely taking everyone’s individual reading files and putting them together into one large, usable piece. This was a bit cumbersome as there were many different files, as well as some retakes that needed to replace other bits of audio already recorded. This entire process jogged my memory rather quickly on the ins and outs of using Audacity successfully. It has been a long time since I used that software, so there was a rather steep re-learning curve, but once I got used to what I was working with, the how to’s of usage came back rather quickly.


As I mentioned, I was more in charge of putting the files together to flow nicely, I had less creative decisions than say Kat who was more in charge of putting effects within the sound. However, I still had to come up with some executive decisions on my own. These included how long certain pauses were between paragraphs, how loud or quiet to adjust the volume and getting the fades right that we used to transition between readers.


We all agreed we wanted our audiobook to be as experiential as possible. In order to do this, we felt like we needed our book to come off a little quirky and unique, and I tried reflecting this spirit in the way I spliced and added audio files to one another. The readers did a great job in staying true to the essence of our project and also Melville’s story. My job was to see their (the readers) commitment to the well-being of the project was not lost and that the sound reflected the readers distinctive styles of storytelling.


I felt we challenged the notion of providing a “Reading” and a “reading” experience that Rubery distinctly defines [61]. Since we wanted our book to be experiential, it had the qualities of a public “Reading” in that we hoped the user felt like our readers were almost performing the text. However, it is still a private, “reading” experience. Hearingthe text brings Bartleby new life, and it was fun to consider the ways I could alter that as I manipulated the sound files to make our project consistent with itself. It is my belief that the digital voice we left behind is there exclusively for the reader to encounter Bartleby and his world.


“Voice characterization” was something to listen for while editing. This helped me choose when to start a certain passage or how quickly to make a conversation begin and end. Thankfully, the readers were very creative with how they presented themselves in the reading, so editing their files was very meaningful. The narrator of the story’s voice was always distinct, especially in comparison to the other characters, so it was especially enjoyable playing around with how he came off.


Overall, this was a great collaborative project. Everyone worked really hard and I think our finished product is something we can all be proud of.


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