Learn Music Easier With Audacity & Magix Audio Cleaning Lab

Previously I submitted an article “How to Learn Music,” however, this post should have been the first. It’s the first step I take with most new songs.  Audacity is a free software program; however Magix Audio Cleaning Lab costs about $60.00.  Both greatly increase accuracy and accelerate the learning process.  There are far more features than I will present in this article, but the core purpose for this discussion is how it can be used to aid in learning music.

Learning Music with Audacity

Audacity is a free download from http://audacity.sourceforge.net/.

How often have you attempted to learn an up-tune when the learning track was just too fast to accurately hear and sing the note intervals?  Or how about a ballad that the learning track was so slow that it could put you to sleep attempting to learn it?  This is where Audacity comes to the rescue.
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First save the learning track to your hard drive in an mp3 or wave format. To open Audacity, click on “File,” “Open,” and import the music file to Audacity. Once the file has been imported, highlight the tracks by clicking on the gray box to the left or using “control A.” The feature that makes Audacity so helpful is that you can change the tempo without changing the pitch.

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Next, click on “Effect” at the top of the screen and select “Change Tempo.”  In the Change Tempo Box next to “Percent Change” you can enter the percent of change you desire.  I have found that for most up tunes as well as ballads a tempo modification of between 10 and 15 percent works well.   Once you play the Audacity track, you can “undue” any change you have made by clicking on “Edit” and then “Undue” so feel free to play around.

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You can also increase the volume of the part-specific track by moving the volume balance sliders in the box on the left.

Audacity will not allow you to make a CD so you must save the file to your hard drive. Be sure to name it something different than the original file. I use “song name -12.mp3” or whatever percentage I used to slow down or speed up the song. You can now burn a CD, copy to an iPod, thumb drive, etc. or proceed to the next step using Magix Audio Cleaning Lab. The first time you use Audacity you will need to download the lame_enc.dll MP3 encoder to your hard drive in order to save the music file. You can get the free lame.enc.dll encoder from http://lame1.buanzo.com.ar/ and it can be saved anywhere on your computer.

Splitting Tracks With Magix Audio Cleaning Lab

Unfortunately, Audacity does not provide a simple way to insert “track markers” which brings us to Magix Audio Cleaning Lab (MACL). MACL, like Audacity, has far more features than I will attempt to explain. All I will touch on is how I use it in the process of learning music to set “track markers.” After I am satisfied with the speed modification that I have made in Audacity I save the file. Now it’s time to import it to MACL. I play the song several times noting, on the sheet music, sections that might be difficult or unusual. I simply us a // pencil mark at the beginning and end of the various sections. If it’s a difficult arrangement I may have several sections I have identified. Start the song again; place the curser on “Marker” at the top of the screen. Play the song and as the music reaches the sections you have selected, click and set a track marker at the beginning and end of each one of those sections.

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Once you have completed setting the track markers you can burn a CD from MACL that will have the modified tempo, and several track markers throughout the song or you can save the file to your computer and transfer to your iPod, thumb drive, etc. When you play this learning track you can simply repeat a section by going back to a specific track marker rather than having to search for the section.

[Editors note: These directions are for the PC – however the techniques are identical for MAC users with one exception.  To split the tracks easier, one potential Sound Studio 4 which does many of the same functions.]