Edit songs for Free; an introduction to Audacity

If you’ve ever wanted to know how to edit mp3 songs, this article will give you all the tools you need to get started.

 What is Audacity?

 Audacity is a free program which can be safely downloaded to your computer. It allows you to input music from your own collection in order to edit it.

When you open a song with audacity it will appear in a box in its ‘wave form’ (see picture below). Start by playing the song and take a moment to see how the sound corresponds to the waveform. Notice how the wave spikes react to beats, and volume. This will help you later on with more complex editing. Use the magnifying glass icons located in the top right hand corner to zoom in or out of the track, to get a closer look. Again this will be a really important function of more advanced editing for later on.

 Getting started

 Despite being free, audacity allows you to do rather a lot with a song. When you highlight a section of the track and click effects you get an idea of some of the many functions:

Audacity screen dump

 For the purpose of this article I will explore the very basics.

 Firstly; to edit a song a common function is cutting parts of the track out. This is particularly useful if, for example, you want to make the intro of a song much shorter. Simply highlight the section of track you want removed (highlight by clicking and dragging as you would with text), and click on the scissors icon (or alternatively select ‘edit’ and then select ‘cut’).

 You may then want the new intro to fade in gently. Audacity allows you to set a selected part of the music to ‘fade in’, or ‘fade out’. Simply highlight the portion of track you wish to edit, click ‘effects’ and then click on either ‘fade in’ or ‘fade out’ depending on what you want to achieve.

 Another function is the option to change the speed of a track. Be sure to know the difference between speed and tempo. When you change the tempo of a track on audacity, the pitch will change with it. When you change the speed, the speed alone will change. Achieve both effects by again highlighting the section of track you wish to edit, clicking edit and this time choosing ‘change speed’ or ‘change tempo’. Both will take you to a box which allows you to slide an arrow in either direction either to make the track faster or slower. Select ‘preview’ to check you are happy with your sound before hitting ‘OK’.

 The important thing with audacity is to play around with it and have fun. Highlight the track and see what happens when you add an ‘echo’, or a ‘wahwah’ (again selected in ‘effects’). If you don’t like the new sound you can always go to ‘edit, undo’ to reverse the effect. Experimentation is definately the key to learning with digital music programs, so I hope this article has given you enough inspiration and knowledge to get started!