DIY – How to cut and copy parts of a song in Audacity
This week’s blogpost will be on cutting and pasting in Audacity. This seems like a simple thing to do, but the method I am going to describe has to do with replicating parts of a song and inserting them in such a fashion as to lengthen or shorten parts of a song in a manner that they seem to flow together. Some of the advantages in doing this will include lenghtening the non-vocal portions of a specific song for our podcasts, since vocalized music isn’t recommended. That is to say, if you have a song you like, and there is no karaoke or instrumental version of this song, you can use Audacity to capture, emphasize, or even loop (for a while at least) the part that you do want and can use. For this, you will need a sensitive ear for audio, and a lot of patience.
Step 1 – Find a song you want that follows a traditional verse and chorus style. Select a portion that you want to extend or replicate. For this, I used “We Like To Party” by Vengaguys of Six Flags fame (you can listen to it here: http://www.duke.edu/~sfp/lax/Party.mp3). I chose the riff that starts at 27 seconds and ends at about 41 seconds.
Step 2 – Open the audio file in Audacity. Using the tool that looks like a text editor key, select the portion that you want to edit. If necessary, select a slightly larger segment, copy and past it to a new audacity file, and widdle it down from there until it encompasses exactly the frames you want. The idea is to select a segment that repeats itself already, but only once or twice. Or, you could find a piece that ends on the same note that it begins, and thus can be looped without sounding weird. The key to this is finding flow.
Step 3 – Once you’ve narrowed down your segment to something that you want, copy and past it at the end of itself. You may have to undo and redo this a few times while you trim off the ends a little bit (or reselect the entire segment if you need more than what you have). This is where your audio ear and patience come into play. Just keep putting the pieces together until they seem to link into each other, and sound like they naturally come together.
Step 4 – Once you’ve found the magic segment length to combine together, copy and past as much as you want. I ended up with an audio file that was as long as the original made entirely of about 14 seconds, repeating itself. And yet, it sounds natural (if boring and repetitive – but that’s exactly what you want for your podcast). Here’s what I ended up with: http://www.pitt.edu/~dap98/PartyLoop.mp3 (For some reason, Audacity cannot normally export to mp3 format without clipping about a minute off the end. I’ll upload a full versino later when I’ve converted the wav file)
This is a DIY that relies highly on your own creativity. There’s no wrong way to do this, but that doesn’t mean you will necessarily like what you end up. What can also do is artificially shorten or lengthen songs and music clips, or remove entire segments from a song that you do not desire, simply by using the same method.
- Dan Pinsky