That Blue Square Thing

Audio Editing

Editing audio files is a pretty useful thing to be able to do.

There are lots of ways you can use this in your own life - producing ringtones or mixes of songs. I'm sure there are other cool things you can do with it as well. It's also good to be able to produce something like this for a piece of homework for another teacher!

This stuff uses the free Audacity software and the Lame plugin. You'll find details of that at the foot of the page.

Training Tasks

These tasks are designed to be really simple and take things step by step. I used them with Year 7 in their first term at high school and they seemed about right. The aim is to get the key skills needed to use a piece of software called Audacity.

The tasks refer to two audio files - a song called 'Geek of the Week' by the band Spirit of Play and a sound effect. I downloaded the song from the Geek Pop website ages ago. You can substitute any song you choose for it (but do look up Spirit of Play as they're quite cool in a geeky sort of way - but you won't find them on iTunes I'm afraid).

The sound effect I got from the Free SFXwiki link site. Highly recommended.

PDF iconTask 1 - Copying Files (you can probably skip this one if you're doing this at home...)

PDF iconTask 2 - Basic editing (saving projects, cutting and fading)

PDF iconTask 3 - Exporting (getting files in mp3 format - for which you'll need the Lame plugin)

PDF iconTask 4 - Edit Pro (splitting files, moving sections and more effects)

PDF iconTask 5 - Using the microphone (using a voice mic we have at school)

If you're keen enough to have a go at this at home you'll probably find that there are lots of cool things you can do that I haven't gone into here. Some of the splitting options, for example, are worth experimenting with as is the envelope tool if you want to get into fading sections of a track more effectively.

The Podcast

The key task this work goes with is the production of a podcast about a myth or legend of your choice. Once you have the skills you can produce the podcast!

Audacity

Audacity is a free, open source piece of software that's available for Windows PCs, Macs and Linux operating systems. It's well worth trying out. You can download it at the Audacity websitewiki link.

To be able to export Audacity files as MP3s you need to get the lame encoder and install it. This is really easy if you follow the instructions on the Audacity website really carefully (and go with the flow). I clicked on the "Other Audacity Downloads for [insert name of operating system]" link on the homepage.

MP3 files have all sorts of advantages - they're smaller, easier to manipulate and can be used easily. So you really need to get Lame...

More Advanced Features

There are some rather less straight-forward help guides and so on at the AiDA & DiDA Sound editing page if you want them. They probably aren't all that more advanced really, just less detailed.

If you want to merge tracks together, for example to produce a "Guess the Intro" round in a quiz, then you probably want to aim for something like this:

Screenshot from Audacity showing merged tracks

I simply imported the tunes I wanted, cropped them down and used the Time Shift tool to move them about, overlapping each one by a second or two. Then I faded out and faded in during the overlap. Note that I very specifically split the stereo tracks to mono to dramatically reduce the file size (and make editing slightly easier). You don't absolutely have to do this but it's probably a quite good idea.