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 Audacity sound editing tutorials

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QuantumCowboy
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PostSubject: Audacity sound editing tutorials   Sat May 10, 2008 5:04 pm

I recently had to find a way to mix, crop, edit, and join various music files into a bunch of different tracks for our Spotlight show, How I Saved the World. After trying to do so unsuccessfully with iTunes and iMovie (I'm sure there is a way, I just don't know it), I tried a search on the web and found a great free program to do it, Audacity.

The program is available for Windows XP/Vista, Mac OS X, and Linux. The manual is sketchy, so there is a bit of a learning curve, but once you understand it, it can do what you want extremely fast.

Problem statement:
Given four tracks in iTunes protected format (m4p), create the soundtrack for How I Saved the World, which includes short bits from several of the tracks, requires parts of two tracks to be spliced together, and another to have a fade out effect. All tracks on the new CD should have 5 seconds of silence after the music to allow the sound technician at the theater time to pause and get to the next song.

1. Download and install Audacity from the link provided above.

2. Burn the m4p (purchased from iTunes Music Store) files to a music CD in iTunes. Re-rip them into mp3 format (this is a setting in iTunes preferences, under importing). If they are already in mp3 format, skip this step. The tracks I was using were "Don't Stop 'Till You Get Enough" by Michael Jackson, "Bamboleo" by The Gipsy Kings, “Always on My Mind” by Willie Nelson, and “Rondeau from Suite des Symphonies” by Mouret.

3. Start a new project in Audacity. This should be done automatically when you open the program, but if you were working on something else in it, you may have to do it manually.

4. From the “Project” menu, select “Import Audio” or just use Cmd-I (Cntrl-I for PC). Navigate to the first file you want to edit, in my case “Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough” and click Open. The program will process the file and show you a track with the audio information on it, split into two channels for stereo sound (right and left speakers).

5. Use the playback controls at the top to find the place where you would like to make a cut. I want the place right before the first chorus, for some good dance moves The zoom tool (magnifying glass) icon at the top left will help… click and drag to zoom in on a particular section of the track. Use the selection tool (cursor icon) at top left to mark the point of cutting.

6. From the Edit menu, click on “Select ->” and then “Start to Cursor”. This selects the portion of the track from the start of the track to the marker. Use Cmd-K (or Cntl-K on a PC) to delete the selection. Find the end of the clip you want, and do the same, only using “Cursor to End” instead of “Start to Cursor”.

7. Great! Now I have the clip I want, but we still need a fade out and some silence at the end for the sound technician. Use the cursor tool to select the ending portion of the clip that you want fading out. Then, click on the “Effect” menu. From the wide variety of effects, choose “Fade Out”. Voila!

8. For the final modification, move the marker to the very end of the track with the cursor tool. Then click the “Generate” menu, and select “Silence”. Simply input the number of seconds you want, in my case 5, and you’re done!

9. From the “File” menu, select “export as WAV” to dump the new track to a file. You can use the mp3 format as well, but you will need to google for and download the LAME codec file. It doesn’t matter too much for this case, as iTunes will import WAV files and I will be using iTunes to burn the final CD.

10. Now lets make a new track, splicing together Willie Nelson’s “Always on My Mind” and the Gipsy King’s “Bamboleo”. I start a new project, and import audio as before, starting with “Always on My Mind”. As before, I clip down to what I want, the start of the singing part up to right after he drawls “quite as often as I should have…”.

11. Now I import audio again, bringing in “Bamboleo”. Notice that Audacity places the new import onto a new track, right below the first one, with its own right and left channels.

12. I crop what I want out as before. Then using the Time Shift Tool (top left, arrows icon), I simply click and drag so that the start of the Bamboleo track lines up right at the end of the Willie Nelson track.

13. Now we add the silence as before, play the track to verify, and export. The other tracks I need are variants of the above described operations. All done editing!

14. Now its an easy matter of importing the WAV files into my iTunes library, creating a playlist, and burning to CD… and what a happy sound technician you will have, who doesn’t have to go hunting around in each full track looking for the right place to press play!

I’ll post more Audacity tutorials on this thread as I get to know more cool features. Remember, it’s free! If anyone else finds more cool stuff you can do with Audacity, post here!

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"Acting is all about honesty... if you can fake that, you've got it down." --Oscar Wilde.
"You must unlearn what you have learned." --Yoda, Jedi Master.
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keltroncybo
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PostSubject: Re: Audacity sound editing tutorials   Sun May 11, 2008 3:54 pm

Thank you very much for posting this qc....I promise I won't read it until it is of specific use though...lol

In all honesty though...this will be super useful for auditions where I only need a few bars...and I want to use a Karaoke CD. :-)

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Kara
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PostSubject: Re: Audacity sound editing tutorials   Mon May 12, 2008 9:45 am

QC-
Way to post useful and relevant information, my friend! The sound for "How I Saved the World" was wonderful--I guess the above explains why.
Thanks so much for sharing!
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