Digital Music Editing Overview - dummies

By Jeff Strong

In the old days of analog tape, you needed to break out the razor blade and adhesive tape to do audio editing. Cutting out a performance was exactly that — physically cutting the performance from the tape that contained the audio. The problem was that after you finished the cut and taped the open ends back together, you couldn’t reassemble the original performance.

And it got even worse. If you wanted to edit a single track, you had to cut a little window in the tape where that part was, but only in the track you were working on. You were left with a hole in the tape.

And then consider this: While you were cutting and taping the tape, you were touching it with your fingers and getting oils all over your precious tracks. The result: sound degradation. In all, analog tape editing was messy work that introduced unneeded stress on the tape (and perhaps the recordist) and degraded the sound of the music.

Lucky for you, there’s a better way — digital editing. You can edit digitally by using your hard-drive recording system. Digital hard-drive recording allows you to do a staggering variety of things to your recorded tracks. You can cut, copy, delete, erase, insert, move, and paste your music, among other things. And the best part is that you can do any of these procedures and still change your mind when you’re done.

This aspect of digital editing is called nondestructive editing, which means that your original recording is kept intact (the recorder often makes a copy of the original data before it makes the edits or it simply points to the data to be played and ignores the data you chose not to have play). On the other hand, the no-returns policy of analog editing is referred to as destructive editing, and after it’s done, you’re committed to the results, regardless of whether you like them.

Editing can be done in a variety of ways, and almost every recording system does it a little differently.