From Cassette Tape to mp3: The Story of an Out-of-print Children's Album I Saved
When I was five, I frequently listened to a cassette tape album by the music company Kindermusik. They produce musical albums, educational programs, storybooks, and activities for children approximately ages 1 to 7. My mother took me to play classes held by Kindermusik from the time I was 2 years old. She told me that one of my teachers had once been a professional opera singer. It was there that I saw my first autoharp. Many of the songs integrate classical excerpts, tonal and rhythmic exercises, and instruments of the orchestra. In my opinion, children who go into that program are molded into sharp, intelligent, classical musicians from the beginning.
The album is called Music And My World. There was a song I was particularly scared of, at the end of Side Two. It was called "Fuzzy Wuzzy Caterpillar." It musically depicts the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. In between the short movements, there is a rolling cymbal that gets louder and louder before diminishing. That sound frightened me very much. It gave me bad dreams at night. It made it worse considering my mom would play it on my tape player right before I went to bed as I took a bath. Mom, don't feel bad. It's not your fault. It's the fault of my sensitive ears. On top of that, one of the movements featured a creepy clarinet. It's crazy that I went on to learn the clarinet 5 years later!
I have that tape to this day, and I kept it my whole life. I looked online everywhere, and the only time this album is sold is used by owner. Kindermusik no longer carries this album. At one point, there were 2 CD copies available used on Amazon, but they both sold and now it is unavailable. Sooner or later, I knew the tape's life would come to an end (it is happily working to this day), however, I wanted to record it and make mp3 copies of each of the songs while I could. The music is very good for children, and I thought it would be good not just for my future children to listen to but for anyone I know now who has young children. It's a good way to introduce them to classical and orchestral music as well as tonal and rhythmic development.
My boom box died, and I had received a Victrola-type record player this past Christmas with a tape and CD player as well as an auxiliary plug for your phone. I decided to play the tape through this as I recorded. I got my cords together and set up the Mac and the Logic files.
All the while Shadowfax was watching me, demanding I give her pets in between the setups. I didn't mind that, of course. :)
As soon as I set up the mic and opened Logic, I put the tape in and recorded the entire tape, both sides, from top to bottom. However, when I listened to it play back, it sounded very sloppy and muffled. Turns out, I had forgotten to set the input to the Apogee interface. It had been recording into the Mac's built in microphone the whole time! (Which, guys, I do not recommend at all. It is poorly made and NOT to be used for recording of any kind). I didn't whine or complain. At least everything else was set up properly. I changed the input so that it was correct. It was 11:30 by this point, so I decided to go to bed and re-record it all in the morning. So Shadowfax and I went to bed.
I began the next morning at 10 AM. This time, when the sound was going into my PreSonus M7 Mic, like it was supposed to, it sounded crystal clear. So, once again, I recorded the entire tape top to bottom. I shut the door to my room so that my roommate wouldn't have to ask why I was blaring "The Eency Weency Spider" out of my speakers, especially so early in the morning.
The Complete Setup
I finished the recording very smoothly. Meanwhile, the repair man had to do several repairs to the apartment while I was mastering each of the tracks. I kept the cat and the guitar in my room for safety purposes and to cure boredom.
Here is a rough picture of the Logic tracks. You can see that I have split up each of the individual songs. There was a small amount of "Crackle" and "Pop" from the cassette sounds, however, it sounded very professional in the end. I added fade in and fade outs in each of the songs, and I went through each song individually to turn it up as loud as it could go without going into the red. The tracks from Side 1 are blue, and the tracks from Side 2 are green. Yeah, I'm organized like that.
I kind of want to upload these to YouTube. But it would infringe on copyright. But again, Kindermusik never uploaded this album! You can't find it anywhere except from a select few owners left who are selling their used CDs and even then it is rare. I could get an "I've been looking for this forever, thank you for uploading" comment. But I don't know if it would be good for my reputation. I want to be considerate of other musicians.
Oh well, I have the mp3s to listen on the computer and put on my phone if I wish, and when the tape breaks, I can say that they're still there!
I'm very geeky. I would enjoy it if someone had an old, rare tape that they want made into mp3 files. I would gladly do this job for them. Guys, if anyone wants me to record their old record or tape, I will do it! I will seriously make mp3 files for them! Please pass this information along! I would appreciate it!