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 tracksIn 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 GuitarAudacity 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 TracksWith 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 PitchYou 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. LoopingAnother 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 TracksThe 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/.
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