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Interlude 2: Downloading Audacity and using it to manipulate playalong tracks

Interlude 2: Downloading Audacity and using it to manipulate playalong tracks
Now I would like to show you how to download Audacity which is a freeware program which is extremely useful for manipulating sound files. As before, let’s wake up our browser Safari and then in Google let’s type “Audacity”. We need to be sure that we download Audacity directly from the official site and not through a third party application “Audacity Download”, “Audacity for a Mac OS X” and notice the address
So let’s click on this and you will see that there’s Audacity 2.0.3 which we could start to download. In fact on my internet connection it takes a long time and so I’ll stop it because I’ve already downloaded it. There are some important things on this page as well because there’s Plug-ins and Libraries. In particular we need the “LAME MP3 encoder” because that allows us to deal with mp3 files and the “FFmeg import/export library” because that enables us to deal with things like m4as. You may notice on the right that I have actually put up the F blues that I downloaded from iTunes. It is Track 10 on the Volume that it came from. Its’s a .m4a (file).
A .m4a (file) is the sound track associated with mpeg4 video files. Again, we need to be able to go between various formats in Audacity. Let us download the Lame encoder.
That should’t take very long.
We want Mac OSX and we want to go to the Lame download page. That starts off with stuff to do with Windows, which we are not very interested in, but down here we have Audacity 1.3.3 or Audacity 2, Mac OSX 10.4 or greater and mine is 10.6, or something like that. We want to download the Lame library. This will not take very long.
We also want to download the FFmeg which I believe is the next down.
This will take 3 minutes but I will stop the downloading.
Right. Let’s, while we are here, have a look at Audacity Help which is part of this website.
You will see that there are some manuals and then there’s some stuff on Audacity Wiki and there some tutorials and there are some tips. There’s some Frequently Asked Questions. These are all important things that you need to get the hang of using Audacity, although it is pretty intuitive. What we are now going to do is to find an Audacity download I did recently which worked. That’s it. You get this icon here.
You get some information about Install.txt: to install Audacity copy the Audacity folder to /applications on any other location of your choosing. Well on a PC that would be copying it to the programs folder. We can do that. I’ll show you how to do that in a second, before we do that, though, let’s just wake it up. That is the program Audacity and it tells us it comes from the Internet. If you look in the bottom right hand corner you’ll see a bouncing icon consisting of some cans with some zig-zag lines going between them and that’s Audacity. It takes quite a while to wake up, so that’s why I thought we would look at that.
While we are waiting, let’s have a look at how we would load our Lame library. We double click on it and we double click on this
and then we get the installation program: Continue, we want it on the Hard Drive, we want to Install it. I need to give it my user name and password as the administrator.
This stage is correct and you do the same thing for FFmeg.
Oh it didn’t do that one successfully.
FFmeg - it’s the same procedure: Continue, load it on to the Macintosh Hard Drive, Install it, give it the administrator’s authority to do it. So those libraries are now installed in the right place. So now we are still waiting for Audacity to load … down here. When we do load it … ah there it is.
We are going to load in - we are going to Open from the Desktop our F blues. Here it is “10 F Blues.m4a”. Open it up. It will load.
Let’s play it for a little bit just so we know what it’s going to sound like. The Transport bar is in the top left hand corner in this version of Audacity - your version may be different. Play - OK, what you will see is we have a left hand channel with the bass and drums on and a right hand channel with the piano on. Now we don’t want the piano because we are going to use this as a playalong. Of course, if you’ve got a stereo system next to your piano or keyboard that you are using then you just have to turn the balance knob to the left.
But I think it is quite useful to have this just as a bass and drums and then you can select where abouts you want in the stereo spectrum (where) you want the sound to come. Let me just show you how you get rid of this piano track. There’s an internal menu in Audacity which you click on here and you’re going to split the stereo track into 2 individual tracks. Now I am going to kill this off by selecting it and there are some scissors up here which cuts it. Actually what I am going to do now is to copy this left hand track onto the right hand track.
I’m going to select Copy and I’m going to go right to the very start and then I am going to select “Paste” and then, finally, I’m going to “Make Stereo Track”. If I play it now - OK, you can hear that it is just the bass and drums track. Finally, I want to save this as a file for future use. I go to the “Export” button and you will see that there are various formats that one can use. Let’s use the mp3 format. I want to give it a different name now from the name that it had originally. Let’s just call it F blues.
There you see on the right hand side the mp3 version of this track. So it will take a little while for it to create that file.
While we do so, of course, we can play this back now either with Audacity itself, or we could use iTunes - if you double click on it you will see that the icon is an iTunes icon - or we could use some other playback device like I use Quicktime. It is quite useful.
Right, so that’s done and just to check let’s load it into Quicktime and let’s play it. So that’s getting the bass and drums track.

This steps will show you how to download Audacity and use it to edit the playalong tracks you will be using. I think the latest version of Audacity allows you to manipulate mp3 sound files (the type I recommend you use for recording and sharing) directly without requiring Lame.

Audacity is free, open source software and is available on all major computing platforms, so you should be able to access it. The link is here:

The only exception is if you only have access to a tablet, not a laptop or desktop. In that case, you cannot use audacity, but here are some popular audio editors for mobile platforms:

If you need further help with Audacity, I would recommend looking at their excellent manual:

In particular the introductory tutorial, Editing an Existing Audio File, is very good.

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