Finding the Right Tool for the Job – Let’s Play with Audacity

Would you use a hammer to tighten a leaking pipe?  No… it’s all about using the right tool for the job.  The hard part is – there are so many tools out there!  When it comes to music, you have Windows Media Player [insert loud, painful groans here] or you have YouTube [insert squinting shrug here] and you have two tools that might be great but totally fail for choreography.

When you choreograph a dance, it’s immensely helpful to be able to move to an exact time in the music, to be able to isolate a certain section so that you can find animations that fit.  When I practice before I record, I go over sections again and again and again until I have them smooth.

When you were in kindergarten, did they teach the the ABC’s all at the same time?  Start to finish?  No!  You had “S” day…where you could bring in things that started with S – like snakes, and silly puddy, and socks, and Sphinx your cat.

For me, it’s the same with music and choreography.  I need to work through it a piece at a time so I can hear the music transitions, really work with my animations, and practice until I can perform a dance start to finish smoothly – THEN I record.  But what, oh what, can we use to perform such magical feats????

Ta da da da!!  <– insert Superman music.  I LOVE…love love love…the free program Audacity.  It was a requirement for all dancers in the first dance company I belonged to, it’s amazing for choreography, and I even use it to edit music files.  Did I mention it was free?

You will need two files to install, both from this website:

Audacity 2.1.3 installer – the main program file  (install this first)
LAME MP3 encoder – allows you to export MP3 files

It looks pretty complex, but it’s not if you focus on the basic features.  It is very flexible if you want to get into music editing and whatnot.

Key features you’ll use.

  • see the “I” bar that’s highlighted under Analyze?  That means when you click your mouse over the music (the dark blue area), it will jump to that area.
  • you can also click and hold your mouse to select a certain selection of music
  • see Selection Start, end, audio position?  This tells you at what time in the music you are, and if you highlighted and area, the length of time for what you selected
  • Press space bar to start playing the music, press again to stop play the music
  • Want to repeat a certain section over and over while you find animations for that part of the music?  Click and hold your mouse button to highlight and area.  Select Effect from the menu, then select Repeat.  Type in how many times you want it to repeat – I usually do 20.   Use the space bar and now you can just focus on a certain section.  When you’re done with your repeat, just select Edit and Undo to put the song back to normal.

It’s truly an amazing program.  I have taught classes on it before, and may again, but for now I will share a supplemental video I had recorded for one of my classes.




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2 Responses to Finding the Right Tool for the Job – Let’s Play with Audacity

  1. Pingback: Dance Resources Index | Madness, Matter, and Rambling Thoughts

  2. Pingback: Editing Music: Audacity Video Tutorial – from Me! | Madness, Matter, and Rambling Thoughts

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