in touch with real speech
In touch with real speech

Reasons to use AudioNotetaker no. 2

Finding jewels in a recording

Another great thing about using AudioNotetaker is that it makes it easy to navigate around long sound files of spontaneous speech.

Recordings of spontaneous speech are problematic: they typically contain multiple things of interest going on at the same time (speed, accent, reduction, dialect words, context dependent references) all of which compete for attention, and which distract attention from any one detail that you might be interested in. And it all happens so fast. This makes it difficult for the reader/listener to notice the specific details that the author wants to focus on. The detail flashes by and is gone.

Single details are much easier to focus in the graphic medium, in writing. So the great value in having the graphic and the audio side-by-side is that the author can draw attention to the feature in question, while not mis-representing the magical multi-dimensionalness of spontaneous speech.

AudioNotetaker makes it possible to identify the parts of a recording which are relevant to the point being made, colour code them and thus present them in a way which makes them easy to locate, play and replay, while leaving them in their proper place in the longer recording in which they are embedded. In the image below, you can see the four panes of AudioNotetaker, with the image pane on the left, two text panes in the middle, and the audio chunks on the right. (The image is not part of the textbook, but is a relevant one that I have imported via a Powerpoint slide.)


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The first text pane (red) contains the instructional comments about an aspect of Birmingham accent (the diphthong in ‘night’), and the second text pane shows the relevant transcript (black, with key words in red). And the last pane shows the audio chunks from the relevant point in the recording. The recording is ninety seconds long (above I show a section of about 4 seconds only).

In the book (p. 172) the transcript is at the top of the page, and the commentary text is at the bottom of the page and (of course) the audio is not in view. The audio that the text refers to is 54 seconds into an audio track that lasts one and a half minutes, and would normally be accessed on a separate device (CD-player or iTunes). In principal the recording is not difficult to access on these separate devices, but many people behave as if it is difficult – and do not give the recording the attention it deserves.

This, added to the professional preference for the graphic substance of written text over audio, means that the recordings are in locations where it is easy for them to be ignored.

Whereas in AudioNotetaker, you can have – in the same view – the text of the transcript, the commentary text, and the audio with the target sounds highlighted in colour in the chunks.


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Update Required
To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin.

Additionally, there are a number of wonderful things about the audio chunks:

  • you can colour-code them yourself
  • you can navigate around them very quickly using arrow keys
  • you can play the audio chunks back at slow speeds
  • you can cut copy and paste just as you can in a word-processor.