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Using Audacity to Record Music on Your Computer

Updated on December 17, 2009

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.

Unless you buy a Mac, that comes preinstalled with GarageBand -- which you can use to record your guitar or any other instrument -- you wil have to install some software to do the job.

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,, 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.)

Recording Music

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.

Editing Sounds

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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    • profile image

      Ghost Producer 5 years ago

      Audacity is a really good recording program. I truly believe people underestimate it's power simply because it's a free tool.

    • profile image

      barb 7 years ago

      I had hoped that if I plugged in a mic on the tower that I could record using Audacity. Tried to download LAME but no luck. I want to record instrumental music. Any clues?

    • mrcoopr2010 profile image

      mrcoopr2010 7 years ago

      Real Deal!

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Interesting , thanks!

    • profile image

      webgiant 8 years ago

      "If you are using Linux, you are probably smarter than me and knows how to install anything alone"

      Well, in Ubuntu Linux you don't even have to go to the home page of the software. Just open up your "Ubuntu Software Center" ("Add/Remove Software" for Ubuntu before version 9), type "Audacity" into the search bar, and click on "Audacity" to install it. Ubuntu will download and install it for you.

    • Soulnectar profile image

      Soulnectar 8 years ago from London

      Audacity is a really good, solid piece of free software for recording audio.

      I use it alot to record sounds and create new samples from films etc that can then be exported in WAV, MP3 and even ogg vorbis.

      It has independent mic and volume levels, so you can determine how loud it is going to record your input before you record and find out that it was too quite or too loud.

      You can also chop any part of your recording and export only the part you have selected, so if you record a whole speech and there is only one word you want from it, you can simpy choose to highlight and export that alone.

      I agree with Cloiveira, this is a brilliant piece of free recording software, probably the best out there, with no limited functionality either.

      I definately reccomend it for music producers and people who are intersted in sampling and it would definately make it into my guide to music production.