Audacity Workbook

Introduction to Audacity

You may wish to learn to use Audacity if you would like to record or edit audio. Audacity is a very simple software and extremely useful for recording interviews, making podcasts, making sound collages, creating documentaries, recording songs etc.

Audacity is an example of a type of software known as an 'audio editor'. This means that Audacity can record and edit audio. Typically, you use Audacity for recording sounds, like interviews or musical instruments. You can then use the program to combine these sounds and edit them to make documentaries, music, and podcasts.

It is a relatively simple application compared to a lot of commercial audio editors. 

In the past, audio editing was done with huge machines that recorded sound to tape (similar to the tape in tape cassettes).


Audio engineers would then edit these tapes using razor blades and sticky tape. Much of the jargon used in audio editing today comes from this process. Making a 'cut' meant literally cutting the audio tape at a certain point. 'Multitrack' referred to recording many separate sounds onto extra wide tape to fit more 'tracks'. The recording industry still uses these terms today. Many of the fundamental techniques which formed good audio recording and editing practices in the past, laid the foundation for recording and editing software  today. 

While many of the terms and techniques remain the same today, computers replaced tape machines, and digital files succeeded tapes. Hence, you now record audio and edit with a computer using software such as Audacity. You then store these sounds in files on a computer. This makes the process faster and requires a lot less physical storage space.


Audacity is a powerful tool for recording and editing audio on a home computer. It's a very sophisticated program and can do everything you would expect from a modern audio editor. Audacity perhaps falls short of meeting the needs of professional recording studios, but not by much.

You can install and run Audacity on LinuxMac OS X and Windows


To show your understanding of this chapter and to check that Audacity is right for you, please write as a comment below, one or two sentences on how you use or want might use Audacity. If you have used Audacity please describe how you find it.

Example: "I would use Audacity to combine recorded voices and music to create short radio jingles for a hospital radio I work for. I have never used Audacity but my collegues have and recommend it."