The pageant talent competition, most popularly seen in the Miss America Organization, requires a 90-second performance that shows off any talent you wish to perform —- dancing, singing, acting, etc. From experience, I have been through the difficult task of finding music and editing it so that it fits in the 90-second time frame with ease. Sometimes, cutting and editing music can be hard. One of the greatest things I have learned is that the music must flow together. If you music is choppy and starts/stops at a random word or phrase, it can throw the judges off.
Many girls opt to hire a professional to edit and cut their music for them, but that can become very expensive. If you don’t have the funds, or would rather spend your money on a more expensive gown, follow these simple steps to learn how to cut and edit your own talent competition music.
Get Music Editing Software
First and foremost you will need a music editing application. On Mac computers, you can download garageband. In my opinion, garageband is very intricate, and requires a lot of learning about the application before being successful. My favorite, free, editing application is Audacity. Audacity allows you to easily edit and cut music as you wish, and doesn’t require much knowledge about music editing, which is great for those who don’t edit music regularly.
Find an Easier Song to Edit
Once you have found a music editing app that works best for you, find a song that isn’t choppy and that doesn’t have extremely fast beats. I won’t get technical with this one because music editing requires a whole new language to understand, but to be simple, you don’t want a song that will leave you with an awkward ending beat or is too fast to find a place to end your music. My favorite music for the talent competition are slower songs for contemporary dance since those are easier to cut and flow well.
For faster paced dances or songs, check Youtube to see popular songs that are used and can be shortened at a good spot, such as a pause before a verse, or before the beginning of a guitar solo. These breaks in the music make it easier to find a good place to end, especially if the song is a popular one that the judges may know.
Need help choosing your music? Check out How to Pick the Perfect Song for Pageant Talent!
Avoid Music That Has Really Quiet or Loud Parts
When editing your own music, this is really important. Some songs have quieter sections and some have louder sections. When you cut your music, you want to end with the same energy that you started with. For example, if your song starts out gentle and quiet, don’t cut it during a loud part of the song.
This creates inconsistency in the music and sometimes doesn’t sound as good as we may think. The pitch of the music is a strong factor in the quality of your cut; you want to make sure that you won’t blow the audience away with a loud chorus after such a quiet verse.
Make Sure the Music Is Identifiable
When I first cut my own music, I butchered it so badly that that song was no longer recognizable. If the song you’re using is a popular one, I would consider keeping the main verses and chorus in the mix. In other words, don’t cut out the main chorus just because you like the ending verse.
This makes the song sound choppy and it doesn’t have the same flow as it would if you had kept the music the way it normally plays. One option is to cut out verses you may not like and just keep the ones you do, as long as it still carries the same rhythm as the one’s you’re replacing.
Keep It In the Time Limit
Most importantly, stay at or below the 90-second time frame. This is crucial because you don’t want your music too short and you don’t want it too long. There is a rule of a 90-second performance for a reason. You don’t want to cut your music at 60 seconds because you are cutting yourself short and not allowing yourself to have the full time available onstage.
On the other hand, you don’t want to go over the required time because you may be pulled off stage and will not be able to continue your performance. Following the guidelines is the most important factor when it comes to editing your music, so make sure you pay close attention to what your director instructs you to do.
Overall, don’t stress! The talent competition is your time to shine. Get together with some friends and have a music editing party, or ask your music professor to help you out. There are many ways to successfully edit and cut your own music, use your resources and believe in your abilities, it is a lot easier than you think!