29 July 2009

Learn Guitar: Audacity Free Practice Software


Audacity is a free digital audio editor written by a team of volunteer developers around the world. It supports mp3, wave and most other popular audio file formats. Audacity is available for Windows 98 and newer, Mac OS X, Linux and other Unix like operating systems.

That's the technical bit out of the way. Now let's take a look at the features that will help you as a guitarist.

How Does Audacity Help You Learn Guitar?

Here is a quick run down of Audacity's features for guitar players...

1. Click tracks
In the Generate menu you can generate an audio track that plays clicks at any tempo and beats per bar. Play back the click track and you have a metronome.

The nice thing about the click track is that you can record yourself as you play over it and listen to the two tracks side by side. This makes it easy for you to hear how well you kept time.

2. Record Your Guitar
Audacity gives you an easy and flexible way to record your guitar by simply plugging in to the microphone or line jack of your PC (You'll need a 6.5 mm to 3.5 mm jack cable).

You can easily record tracks and mix them together. You can record your own backing and play solo parts over it for example.

You can also mix your guitar tracks with CDs from your music collection, jam tracks, or a drum or bass track.

Audacity also has a number of useful effects that you can apply to your guitar recordings (note that these are not available for real-time playback through the computer), compressor, echo, equalization, phaser, wah wah, delay, reverb, limiter, tremolo...

3. Play with Songs or Jam Tracks
With Audacity you can also record your guitar track as you play along to a jam track or a song. Listen to the recording to hear how well you did.

You can import music and backing tracks from mp3 and Windows Media Audio files as well as CD.

4. Change Tempo or Pitch
You can change the tempo of any piece without changing its pitch.

Change the tempo to slow down those tricky passages for study or to play along with them at a more comfortable speed.

If you want to play a song in a different key than the original then you can also change the pitch without altering the tempo. This comes in handy for those songs played with a guitar detuned a half step or with a capo.

Of course, if you want to change both pitch and speed then you can.

5. Looping
Another handy tool for studying difficult passages, or simply to jam on a short chord sequence is looped playback. You can loop any track or mix of tracks by simply holding down the shift key as you press the play button. You can loop only part of a track by selecting it with the mouse before you start playback.

Audacity's pitch and tempo changes can also be used on the looped section.

6. Export Tracks
The ability to create and play loops, control their tempo and pitch is already handy to have on your PC, but you can also take the jam tracks and loops you create with you to practice elsewhere.

You can export any track or loop you create as an audio file. Copy the files to a portable player or burn a CD and you can use them wherever you practice.

I like to use this to create practice tracks at different tempos to copy to my mp3 player. This way I can work on a piece and gradually increase speed as I practice.

Where do I get it?

In conclusion, you'll find Audacity an essential tool for many guitar practice needs. It is easy to use and costs nothing, so what have you got to lose?

You can download Audacity at the project web site http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/.

Gary

Guitar article writing: Gary Fletcher writes quality, original guitar content for your web sites. Discover guitar writing services for web sites, blogs and newsletters. Visit http://www.writescribe.com/guitar to learn more.

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4 comments:

Stratoblogster said...

Gary, Thanks for stopping by!

This is a great post! I've had audacity for awhile but haven't used it since some of these upgrades. I'll blog about this today and give you props.

cheers!
jp

Brandon said...

Audacity is outstanding! I have used several other programs as well that are "free", but they always want to install extras, and want you to upgrade - Audacity does NOT do that!

It is also worth noting that Audacity is very powerful, it can do really impressive stuff, but if you are a novice when it comes to recording and audio engineering - take the time to watch some tutorials on YouTube.com or read about features on Audacity's website.

Last lesson - no matter what software you use, if the quality of the sound coming into the program is garbage, it won't sound good. Most standard/stock microphone input jacks are very "noisy" (a bad hiss). Use a USB or Firewire interface (whether it's a USB microphone, or a usb interface box). That will make your recordings better, and make your experience much more enjoyable (I learned those lessons the hard way ;) ).

Gary Fletcher said...

Hi Brandon,
Thanks for the microphone tip - that should come in useful.

And thanks JP for the shout.

freddy1955 said...

I am interested software that can slow down and loop parts of songs. This sounds like a cool (free) product!

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