Mash-ups are a new popular form of music where you take two songs and mix them together to create something new. There’s no magic tool to automatically make you a good mashup. Creating a good one takes talent. In this tutorial I’ll show you how you can begin to use Audacity to mix songs together.
When you fire up Audacity you’ll be presented with a screen resembling the one below.
Some of the buttons should look really familiar like the play, pause, and stop buttons. I’ll tell you what some of the other buttons do as we need them. Let’s start with two songs. For this example, I’ll start with Magic by B.O.B and Do You Believe in Magic by The Lovin Spoonful. I’m not going to actually create a mashup (although if someone actually would mash these two songs together, I’d be really impressed). First I’m going to import Magic into Audacity by going to File à Import àAudio… I select my song and Audacity imports it.
You can see the waveform of the file. Since it’s a stereo track you can see the left and right tracks. If we click the play button we can play the song. Notice how the cursor tracks the songs progress. If you hit the pause button, the playback stops where it is. If you hit stop, it goes back to the beginning.
By default, the selection tool is selected which lets you jump to a certain part of the song. You can also use this tool to drag and select a portion of the song that you want to play.
You can use the timeshift tool to move the entire music track back or forward in time.
You can use the zoom tool (the magnifying glass) to zoom in or out on your track. Left click to zoom in, right click to zoom out. In the diagram below, you can see that I’ve zoomed in.
Now I’m going to import the other song by doing the same thing as before.
If I press play now, both songs will play at the same time. I can click Mute to mute one of the songs so I can just hear the other one. If one track is too loud, I can lower its volume right under the mute button so I can hear other tracks. Also, if I have several tracks and I only want to hear one, clicking the Solo button mutes all the other tracks.
When you want to start making a mashup, it can be helpful to find a piece of a song that you like and want to use. Zoom way in so that you can see exactly the piece of the song that you want.
Select it with the selection tool, then go to Edit à Copy to copy that part of the song. Then go to Tracks àAdd New à Stereo Track. This will create a new track where you can place this piece. Then click on your new track and go to Edit à Paste. The piece of the song will now be in this track. You can click on the title of the track, select Name, and change it to something so you remember.
In fact I would recommend creating lots of new tracks to hold the pieces that you want. If I want to use the piece shown above, I might create a track just for copies of this piece to go in, that way I don’t mess up the original selection.
You may want to use this piece several times in a song. Let’s make another new track to do that and paste our selection into it as shown below as many times as we want.
Most of making a mashup is finding pieces of a song you like and putting them where you want them. There are some other tricks that you may find useful as well. If you go to the Effect menu, one of the things you can do is Change Tempo which changes the speed of a certain selection without changing the pitch. You can use this to make a song faster or slower without giving it a chipmunk sound. Of course, if you want, you can also give it a chipmunk sound by using Change Speed and increasing the speed.
You can also use the Amplify effect to make certain parts of your song louder.
One final tip, save your work often! You can save an audacity project file but make sure that you include all of the audio files that you used in your work if you move the file somewhere else. An audacity project file can’t work without the mp3 files that you used. When you’re done, you’re finished you’ll probably want to export it as an MP3. To do that, go to File > Export… Select your Format as MP3 and Save.
You may need to find lame_enc.dll if you are Windows or the Lame Library for Mac. The easiest way to get those is to go to the Audacity website (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/help/faq?s=install&item=lame-mp3).
And that’s pretty much it. It takes a lot of work to make a good mash-up but for the beginning Audacity user, these are some good tools to get you started.