Schools Competition
 

Entry requirements

Getting your track to us

Getting your track onto a computer

Checking your connection

Checking your sound properties

Recording / editing your track

Computer generated music

Converting your track to MP3 format

Entry requirements

Anyone aged between 11-18 and in education in the United Kingdom can enter our Schools Competition. You can be a soloist, DJ or in a band, as long as you have a piece of music no longer than five minutes, you are eligible to enter. Unfortunately we cannot give any musical guidance when composing your tracks - hopefully this is where your music teacher can help!

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Getting your track to us

The first thing you will need to do is to record your track. Your School should have the facility to help you do this. If not, you can email us and we will endeavour to find you recording facilities. If you cannot transfer your track onto computer, you can post your CD/tape/mini disc to:-

contactmusic.com

The Gate House

Iron Row

Burley-In-Wharfedale

ILKLEY

LS29 7DB

However in order to place your music on our site straight away, you need to transfer it onto a computer. How you have recorded your track will determine how you do this. If you have recorded onto tape or mini disc, you will need to play the track into your computer via your sound card, and then record it as a wav. This is not as difficult as it may sound! If you have used computer software to create your track, then you can skip the next part.

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Getting your track onto a computer

Whatever equipment you have used to record your track should be capable of playing your music into a computer. There should be either a connection for a heaphone or Auxiliary Out connector. The type of lead you need to connect your source to your computer will depend on what sort of connections you have on your source. The end of the lead that plugs into your computer should be a 3.5mm jack plug. If your source has a heaphone connection this will either be a 3.5mm jack plug also, or a 6.35mm jack plug. In this case you will need a Plug to Plug lead. If your source has an auxiliary output, then it is mostly likely that the connections will be phono connections, in which case you may need a Stereo Jack Plug to 2 Phono Socket lead. You can get these leads cheaply in most high street stores which have audio accessories, and they should not cost more than five pounds. Alternatively you can go online and purchase them from http://www.maplin.co.uk using the following codes to find your product: 3.5mm Stereo Jack Plug to Phono Socket Lead, Maplin Code NZ47B 3.5mm to 3.5mm Stereo Lead, Maplin Code CK27E There is a chance that your computer does not have a sound card, however most recent computers are multimedia and should have this facility. Your computer may have a soundcard built into the motherboard in which case the microphone connection (if there is one) should be next to the speaker connection.

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Checking your connection

In order to record into your computer you need to connect the output from your source (which is the headphone or auxiliary out of whatever machine you used to record your song) to the Microphone socket on your computer. Now to check everything is working, play the source with your music. You should hear the track coming through your computer speakers. If not, firstly check the volume on your source but unplugging the lead and playing your track. If you can hear this, then the source is o.k. The next thing to check is the level of your microphone on your computer. So plug your source back in and play your track, then open the volume properties on your PC, which should be located near your clock in the bottom right hand corner.

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Checking your sound properties

If you do not have this icon near your clock, you will need to go to your control panel to activate it. Choose the Multimedia icon from your control panel,

and then choose the option at the bottom of the first window which says Show volume control on the taskbar.
Go to the options menu and choose the Properties option. Make sure the Microphone option box is ticked. Then click on o.k. Next make sure that the Microphone Select box is ticked.

Now to test everything is working. To make sure you are recording from the source, open the Windows Sound Recorder, which should be on your Start Menu, in Accessories. If you cannot find it there, hold the Windows Key and press R to get your run dialog box up. Type in C:\WINDOWS\Sndrec32.exe and press ok.

This should bring up the following window:-

The red circle is your record button. Hit this, then play your source. If you have followed the previous steps, you should see the green line moving as you record. You can only record for 60 seconds however, so we cannot really use this program to record your track.

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Recording / editing your track

You will need to use a program called a Wav Editor in order to record your song onto the computer. Providing you have a sound card, there should have be one supplied on the disk with the drivers that came with it. If not, there are many you can download for free from the internet. One we can recommend is the GiveMeTalk! Home Studio. It is free, has a very simple interface and will do everything you need to record your music. You can download it from the GiveMeTalk! Website:- http://www.givemetalk.com Once you have downloaded and installed the program, when it is run, you should see the following:-

To record your track, once again press the Record button, then play your source. Once you have finished, click on the Stop button and you should be able to see your wav in the middle window. You can select any part of the wav and delete it, so if you have a few seconds silence on the beginning or end of your wav you can get rid of them. Just select what you want to delete, then press the Cut button. If you delete too much, don't panic! Before you do anything else, press the Undo button to revert back to where you were. Once you have tidied up your wav, you can save it to your hard drive. Make sure you remember where you save it, putting it in My Documents is probably the best idea.

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Computer generated music

If you have used a computer to make your track, then you obviously don't need to record it into a computer. There will most likely be an option to record your song as a wav, refer to the instructions or help file for your software. There may even be an option to save directly into MP3 format. If you are using a computer to make music, you probably don't need us telling you how to do anything anyway!

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Converting your track to MP3 format

Now you have a wav of your track, you need to convert it to an MP3. If you have Winamp, or any other MP3 player on your computer, then you should be able to convert your wav without any additional software. Open the Windows Sound Recorder, and then open your wav. It doesn't matter that your wav is longer than 60 seconds, as you are not recording. Select File from the menu, then Properties, and you should see the following window.

Where it says Choose from:, click on the arrow and select Recording Formats and press the Convert Now button. You should get the following box coming up:

From here, click on the arrow on the Format box and choose MPEG Layer 3. Choose the best attributes on offer (the highest values). You can click on Save As to save the settings for future use. Now click on OK and windows will convert your wav to an MP3. This is now ready to send to the competition! Simply go to http://www.contactmusic.com and register if you have not done so already. Then sign in and go to the "Send a Track" page and fill in the details. When it comes to submitting your track, click the "Browse" button:

You will see a box displaying your computer. Simply locate your MP3 and click "Open", then submit the form and wait for the votes to stack up!

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