Using Audacity to Record Music on Your Computer
One of the first things that everyone that learns music wants to do these days is to record your own music on the computer. Even though this looks like a very simple at the beginning, the experience of many users is that it is a frustrating process.
The first hurdle to overcome is the lack of specialized software to do this task. In another chapter I discussed, for example, how to connect a guitar to the computer. However, the difficulty sometimes comes just from the fact that you need the right software to connect your instrument.
Many software packages to record music are commercial software. However, there is a little program that the companies out there don't want you to know about. This software is called audacity, and has most of the options that beginners need to record and create their own music on the computer.
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Working with Audacity
Audacity is a free software created to simplify the task of recording sounds on your computer. With Audacity, you can simply start the program, plug an instrument, and start recording a song for as long as your want.
Audacity is freely available from its main website, http://audacity.sourceforge.net/, where new versions are made available at regular intervals. At the time of this writing, the latest version of Audacity is 1.3.7, which includes the latest features and bug fixes.
You can simply click on download and install the problem, by double clicking on the downloaded file. The program will be available on your start menu, if you are using Windows. On a mac, you can just drag the file to the Applications folder. (If you are using Linux, you are probably smarter than me and knows how to install anything alone.)
When open, Audacity shows a windows with several tracks. Each track is an independent sound sequence that can be recorded from your microphone. For example, suppose you want to record a song with a guitar, bass, and drums. Each of these instruments would be recorded in a separate channel, so that you can later on make individual modifications to each track.
If you see no tacks, the simplest way to record is just pressing the "record" button in the toolbar. Doing this will automatically create a track, and add the recorded sounds to that track in sequence.
After a few iterations of this process, you will have a number of tracks. Each track will have an instrument, or a different part for each instrument. The program shows the wave form of the sound for each track that was recorded, so you can easily see the silence patterns in the song.
Audacity provide easy to use but powerful tools for sound editing. The selection tool allows one to select any part of the record. You can copy from other tracks, repeat (loop) them, delete, and apply effects.
The effects available on Audacity are simple but effective. They allow transformations such as amplify, echo, fade in, and compressor. These are standard effects used by guitar players, but there are other effects for human voice and many other instruments
Audacity provides an effective way to edit music. It has all the basic functions necessary to create and edit music on a PC or Mac.
It is also very simple to use, compared to other software. I like the fact that it loads fast, and can create a new track with just one command. I usually just start Audacity, and click on the record button to have it recording my music.
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