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HowTo: Make Sounds with Audacity

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Stomfi

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Posted: 19 Nov 2004
 

StomfiLearning to use Linux at Home and Work
Welcome to my ongoing series of HowTo articles designed to help Linux newbies get comfortable with Linux. Before trying any of these HowTos, take a few minutes to study the prerequisites so you can hit the ground running.
--Stomfi

This HowTo covers basic sound editing using the Audacity program, a Linux and MS windows sound manipulation program. See last week's article for adding animations to the Poem project. The sounds you make in this HowTo will be used in the Poems project and will be added into the animation display.

Running this program requires a working sound card so you can listen to your editing.

If you don't have Audacity on your computer, you can get compiled RPMs from FreshRPMS.net or other formats from Sourceforge. Audacity also needs some support libraries which you can get from the same sources. These are libmad, libsndfile, and wxGTK.You will need to install these before you install Audacity. First download the files to your HOME/src directory (make it if you haven't got one). Next open a superuser command shell and do the following command using the TAB key for file name completion.

$ cd /home/YOURUSERNAME/src

$ rpm -ivh libmadTAB

$rpm -ivh libsndfileTAB

$rpm -ivh wxGTKTAB

$rpm -ivh audacityTAB

This will install Audacity on your system. It should put an icon in your multi media menu.

Before you run Audacity, you may want to change your volume and other sound mixer settings. This is my mixer. Yours may look different, but the controls will be similar.

Graphic1

We are going to do some pretty basic modifications and primitive creation. If you want to be more sophisticated, read the following and install ecasound:

http://www.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=04/10/20/1418231
http://www.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=04/10/20/1423245

If you don't have an icon in your menu you can always use the Run menu item and enter the name audacity. When the programs starts you will see the following screen:

Graphic2

The functions we will use in the HowTo are File – Open, File Export, and Effects.

Above the editing window we will use the two zoom icons.

Instead of creating a new sound, we will edit an existing one. You will probably find some system sounds in "/usr/share/sounds". You can always do a file search for *.wav

When you have found some, (I'll be using the KDE system sounds), you can open one. The one I have chosen to edit is startup3.wav

Graphic3

The wave form of this sound file will be shown in the editing window.

There is a thin blue line before the sound grows.

We use the mouse to highlight this area by moving the mouse to the beginning and holding down the left button while moving the mouse to the right until it reaches the end of that area.

We use Edit – Cut as shown to get rid of the highlighted part as shown.

Graphic4

Now highlight the complete wave form.

This is the whole Effects menu. We shall use a few of these to completely change our original sound. Select Effect – Repeat.

Graphic5 Graphic6

10 repeats make the editing window look like this:

You can listen to it by clicking the green play icon. It sounds pretty awful. Needs a few more effects and some editing. Click on the square stop icon to return to edit mode.

Now try some Phaser effects. I'm sure all these things have meaning but I'm just going to change a few and listen to the result. I can always click Edit Undo if I don't like it.

Graphic8

That certainly changed the sound. Maybe its a bit slow. Lets try changing the speed effect.

20% seems enough.

I don't like those pauses though. Now we zoom in with the magnifier icon so we can highlight and Edit – Cut the silent bits.

When you have finished this bit of editing for the whole wave form, zoom out again.

The result will look like this:

Graphic12

Now we add a bit of fade out effect to the end.

Highlight about 1 cm on the end.

Use Edit – Copy.

Click the bar on to the end of the wave form.

Use Edit – Paste.

Do this 3 times and highlight the new pasted bit.

Use Effect - Fade Out. Thus: >

Graphic13

These are all the changes I am going to make. I think you've got the idea now and can experiment on your own. You can open more than one sound, copy one and paste it into or on the end of another. There are some drum machine programs you can install, and by reading the sourceforge articles, you can see how to combine several tracks into one.

All that's left to do with our new sound is to use File – Export to save it as a .wav file in our HOME folder.

Try playing with some of the other sounds like ClockChime.wav or create your own. You can probably get some copy left music and grab a small sample from it, and use that. Don't forget to save it as a .wav file if you are going to use it in the Poems project.

Create a HOME folder "sounds" and save your files there. We will use the sounds folder in the next HowTo, where they are integrated with the Poems project.


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