Indexing, Editing and Transcribing

Dealing with the Recordings

Once recordings have been made it is vital to follow the following-up process of Indexing them as soon as possible, editing out the songs, stories and associated material. Files need to be as carefully and as thoroughly indexed as possible to make sure they are suitable for research for years to come by a range of people. These people may be; the families themselves and wider Gypsy Traveller communities; Artists (singers, musicians, storytellers, writers, poets etc); Academics (Anthropologists, Historians, Archivists, Folklorists, Medievalists, Herbalists, Magic Scholars, Agriculturalists, Geographers, Librarians, etc); The Humanities (Filmmakers, Radio Producers, Care workers, Educationalists etc) and everyone in between.


The Roles of Indexer, Editor and Transcriber

Below is the layout of the fields within the index and how to index your tapes. These are the fields that need filling and we have a list of key words, metadata and subjects to be aware of. Scan these conversations for topics, subjects etc that will be of interest to all researchers in the future. Making it easy to spot odd topics is our mission as well as themes within the songs, the stories and the narrations.

Remember this is going to be of use to Singers, Storytellers, local Historians, members of the community, enthusiasts, Cultural Historians etc so keep the net of catchment wide and varied, better too much information than too little in terms of descriptive info. Choose key terms that sum up a broader picture of what is being discussed or situations occurring

i.e. ‘Oral Transmission’ ‘passing it on’ ‘correct singing’ ‘singers advice’ ‘old styles of singing’ ‘proper singing’

Every visit can be either one long recording or as is often the case lots of fragments of recordings. Every index page should be for a single visit and not sound file ie. not where the break in files occurs but on each day of work or session – which ever seems more obvious.

Indexing should ALWAYS be done first and as thoroughly as possible. A thorough time code made of every noted song start and ending and every detail worth mentioning, mentioned. This way once full indexing has been done the sound editing can be done swiftly using time codes for where to slice. Also add time codes for where song explanations start and end as these will be edited out too.

If song or story titles are unknown then the best thing to do is to write out as many of the first verse lyrics as can be made out and assumed titles or description of what’s it about. The SCC can help with unknown titles.

Create a system of making issue areas where visible (areas where the conversation is complicated) try making them bolded and red for instance so the SCC and others when checking files and indexes can see where they are and support the complicated moments.

Using the index created, cut up the recording into tracks.
Each track is given a file name and must be laid out like this:


Its all about absolute meticulous continuity so that filing systems keep everything in order!!! Using this uniform system means all SCC recordings conform to a similar set-up and searching for songs, singers, dates etc becomes much easier.

Examples will thus look like this:

A song track with a known title would look like this:

Freda Black 2012.10.16 Tape1 00.10.43 Barbara Allen

A song track with an unknown title would look like this with the first line in brackets:

Freda Black 2012.10.16 Tape1 00.10.43 Unknown Song (In Scarlet Town where I was born)

An explanation of a song would look like this:

Freda Black 2012.10.16 Tape1 00.10.43 Barbara Allen (explanation)

A story/conversation/poem would look like this:

Freda Black 2012.10.16 Tape1 00.10.43 Story about Cartwheel Snake

This way the songs will stack up chronologically as they were sung. Once you have edited out and created your playlist of songs in your iTunes or music folder these files can be uploaded straight into Soundcloud via the SCC page. Please speak to the SCC about contributing your recordings


Layout for Indexing

Below is an example set of blank fields to use as your template for indexing your tapes. Copy these fields out onto a .doc or a .RTF file and work from there.

********************* SECTION A

Name of Archive:

Time Date: (of Recording)

Accession date: (ie date of entry in filemaker)

Place: (of recording)

Recording File: (title of file)

Recorded By: (whoever manually recorded it)

Song Leant from: (any mention of provenance)

Song Names: (song title, The;)


************************ SECTION B (THE MAIN / LARGEST BODY OF THE INDEX)

Notes on Recording


00:00 – 00:32

Description/ Song name


Note: There are usually multiple sound files for each visit, keep them all in the same document but note down the individual information for each.


Example of Indexing


************************ SECTION A

A A A Ireland: O’Leary’s, 1st Visit 8.12.12

Time Date: 08/12/12

Accession date: (i.e date of indexing/ entry) 06/04/13

Place: (of recording) TBC

Recording File:


Recorded By:

Sam Lee

Song Leant from:

Josie O’Leary

Song Names:

Lakes of Coolfin, The; Black Velvet Band, The; Boolavogue; Someone Like You


Jim and Teresa O’Leary

************************ SECTION B

Notes on Recording


00:00 – 01:00

Explaining where her daughter lives

Josie encourages Jim to sing for the recording ‘Your grandchildren could be listening to it in a hundred years time’



Setting up recording equipment for Jims’ song

‘Oh one day’ – Jim makes false start.

Opening line prompted by Sam ‘It was early one morning’


01:14 – 02:26

‘The Lakes of Coolfin’ sung by Jim



02:26 – 03:12

Song interrupted – told by Josie that he is ‘rushing it’ ‘sing it again and sing it lighter’


03:13 – 06:27

Jim begins ‘The Lakes of Coolfin’ again (whole song)


06:27 -06:39

discussion about who should sing next


06:40 – 07:00

Unknown song (1) begun

Voice cracks ‘bit too early in the morning’


07:00 -07:28

Discussion about who should sing


07:29 – 07:34

Jim sings another song

‘Black Velvet Band’

‘Oh one day as I went far (for) a ramble’


07:34 – 07:46



07:46 – 09:37

Jim sings ‘Black Velvet Band’ again (whole song)


09:38 – 10:29

Discussion about ‘Black Velvet band’ between Sam, James and Josie, preparing for the next song


10:30 – 11:39

‘Boolavogue’ started by Teresa



11:40 – 13:42

prompted by her mother

Oral Transmission

‘Boolavogue’ sung by Teresa (whole song)



Discussion about the song being passed from generation to generation


14:58 – 15:39

Teresa sings Adele ‘Someone like you’ (verse & fragment)


15:40 – 15:55

Breaks song


15:56 – 16:33

Resumes ‘Someone like you’


16:34 – 17:18

Teresa requests to hear recording and Sam asks if he can take a photo of the two singers.


Transcribe as accurately as possible the words of songs and poems in the recordings. Flag up any words that are unclear by making them red and footnote any possible alternative words. If there is heavy dialect footnote potential glosses. Save the transcripts using file naming convention described above.


Example of Transcription

The Lakes of Coolfin

It was early one morning Willy Leonard arose

And was straight to his comrades bedside, quickly he goes

Saying: It is a fine morning and a-bathing we’ll go


Now they left[1] and they talked til they came to a lane

and the first man that they met was a keeper of game

He advised them so severlent[2] to go back home again

For there’s deep and false waters in the lakes of Coolfin


Now young Willy stripped off and he swam the lake round

Til he came to a current and he find[3] there no ground

Loyal comrade, loyal comrade don’t you venture in

For there’s deep and false waters in the lakes of Coolfin


Now twas early same morning, Willy’s sister arose

And was straight to her mother’s bedside quickly she goes

Dear mother dear mother I had a sad dream

That young Willy was floating, in a watery stream


Now twas early same morning Willy’s mother came there

Gold rings on her fingers and she’s tearing her hair

Cruel murder cruel murder was there anyone by

For my venture their lives’ for my own darling bairn[4]


On the day of his funeral was a glorious sight

There was five and twenty comrades and they all dressed in white

Now the hearsemen[5] wore white banners as they laid him in the clay

Saying goodbye Willy Leonard and they all marched away



The Black Velvet Band

Oh one day as I went far a ramble

All alone by myself I did stray

I met with a gay young deceiver

By walking along the byway


Her eyes they shone like diamonds

And I thought she was queen of my land

Oh and her hair was hung[6] over her shoulders

And tied up with a black velvet band


Well next day I was hunted and captured

All alone in the dark I did stand

And I was charged with the robbing and stealing

While walking along the byway


Her eyes they shone like diamonds

And I thought she was queen of my land

Oh and her hair was hung over her shoulders

And tied up with a black velvet band


Now all you lads that are sober and single

Take fair warning from me if you can

Now and beware of the girl in those blue eyes

And her hair tied up in a black velvet band



At Boolavogue as the sun was setting

The bright may meadow of Shelmalier

A rebel hand set the heather blazing

And brought the neighbours from far and near


And father Murphy from old Kilcormac

Spurred out the ranks with the warning cry:

‘Arm! Arm!’, he cried, for I’ve come to lead you

For Ireland’s freedom we’ll fight or die


He led us on against the coming soldiers

And the cowardly yeomen we’ll put to fight

It was at the Harrow the boys of Wexford

Showed Bookey’s regiment how men could fight



[1]           or ‘laughed’?


[2]             severely or severe-like


[3]           or ‘found’


[4]             or ‘boy’ or ‘bine’


[5]             or ‘horsemen’


[6]           or ‘from’


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