Remixing in the Key of Glee

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This is the story of how Glee soundtrack samples ended up on my keyboard. When it was all done, I realized it’s a great GeekDad project.

My wife and I were choir geeks in high school. We were singers in the elite Madrigal group and performed a wide range of a cappella music, including songs about some lady Phyllis and her boyfriend Amyntas, love, God, chickens, and more.

It’s no surprise that we got hooked on Glee, a television series about high school choir geeks that dance and sing more popular music. Some of the material is a little mature for our kids, so they haven’t seen too much of the show. However, they have been hearing the songs from the soundtrack CDs in our car on the way to baseball, or dance class, or wherever else.

At first my older daughter wanted to put the music on her phone, which she uses as an alarm clock. This was pretty simple — I showed her how to rip the CD into iTunes, then copy MP3s to her phone, which was plugged into the computer via USB.

Next, I had a flash of brilliance: we could take small clips of the music and put them on my sampling keyboard, an Alesis 8HD. The kids already had clips they thought were funny, like Finn’s first note on “Somebody to Love” or Mr. Schue saying “Bust it!” at the beginning of “Bust a Move.”

Finn sings “Can”

Mr. Shue says “Bust it!”

I showed them the fundamentals of editing MP3 files using Audacity, and they were off and running, chopping out little bits of audio. For the most part, they simply clipped out segments of sounds, but in one case they were inspired to combine Rachel singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and Mercedes singing “Get Funky” so the end result is — wait for it — “Total Eclipse of the Fart.” I’m so proud!

Total eclipse of the fart

Getting the sounds to my keyboard was a little more difficult. Although the keyboard will appear as a drive when attached via USB, you need the Fusion Converter utility from Alesis to transfer the samples into a proprietary format. The utility doesn’t handle MP3 files, so we had to export them from Audacity as WAV. The utility from Alesis was a little stubborn, but eventually I got the samples transferred to the keyboard. After that, my kids spent some time mapping each sample to a key:

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