WDL Guide to Audacity

Adding Music

Depending on the kind of project you’re working on, you might want to add music or other sound effects to your audio recording. Audacity makes this relatively easy. First, let’s talk about where to find music and sound effects.

Finding Music

As you’re probably aware, the sourcing of digital music can be controversial. Media companies actively police where their music is obtained from and how it’s used. If your project is for a course and you don’t plan to do anything with it besides submit it to your professor, some would argue that your work is covered by the doctrine of Fair Use, and you’re free to use whatever music you like. However, we’re not lawyers, and we can’t give advice one way or another.

If you want to play it safe, or if you’re creating a project you hope will have a life beyond the classroom, we recommend you find music that is in the public domain or has been released by the creator for use by anyone. One of the best sources for this is Archive.org’s audio section. There are millions of free sound clips, many of which are licensed for free use. Be sure to check the individual track’s page to see if there are any usage restrictions.

For sound effects, there are also great sources for free sounds, check out our resources page to see a few.

Importing Into Audacity

Importing music in Audacity is simple. Click on “File” in the upper left corner of the screen, point to Import and choose “Audio.” In the dialogue box that pops up, navigate to your audio file. When you open the file, you’ll see it appear as a track in your Audacity project. From there, you can adjust the volume of the music using the gain slider or chop out parts you don’t want, just like editing your own audio. For example, if you only want background music in certain parts of your project, use the Envelope Tool or the Silence Audio button to delete music where it’s unwanted.

If you’re adding sound effects, use the time shift tool to put the effect at the exact spot you want in your audio track.