Digital Storytelling Part VIII- Audacity

Nothing personalizes a story better than the voice of the author…

Nothing allows someone better to let their own imagination run wild than an oral story or audiobook…

There are no pre-set images of how someone else envisioned the story that taint your perception. How many times have you seen a movie after reading a book and thought: “That is not how I imagined it”.

It takes special speaking and listening skills to create and understand stories that are only told without or with minimal visual clues.
The world of podcasting has re-introduced listening to audio content. The spreading of iPods and other MP3 players, even among elementary school students, has made the distribution of audio content easier and its popularity is soaring.
Creating your own audio stories with and for your student is easy with the free audio editor and recorder called Audacity.

You can download the program at It is free to download and use and only requires a microphone attached to your computer in order to record audio.
Once downloaded, click on Start and All Programs then choose Audacity. You will see the main screen of Audacity. Make yourself familiar with the toolbars, by clicking on buttons and see what happens.

In order to start recording a track, simply click on the Record button  .

The selection tool is the most important button to use. It is similar to your cursor in any Word Processor program.  You use the selection tool to highlight a part on a track to copy or delete that part. You also use the selection tool to select a part on a track by highlighting the area and then applying effects to it.  Make sure the selection tool button is selected when choosing an insertion point on a track.

Click on the Record button  to start recording. A new track will automatically be created.

Use the Pause button to pause your recording and press it again to continue recording.

Use the Stop button  to stop recording on the track.  Once you push the Record button again, a new track will be created.
Create/record as many tracks or segments as you need, then start editing them individually and finally organize them together into a final sequence.
It is good practice to save your Audacity project frequently.

The Audacity Project file allows you to return to Audacity and continue editing the tracks. Audacity project files are saved as an *.aup extension and will NOT play as an uploaded file to a website, imported into other popular programs or attached as an e-mail. Once you have completed the project, you will export the file to a different format, such as an .mp3 or as a .wav, which can be played on an iPod or imported into other programs.

Use the Time Shift tool button to slide a recording on a specific track to the left or to the right. You can arrange individual tracks to start when another one ends or you can have music playing in the background at the same time as another track by adjusting the volume of the background track to be lower than the foreground track.

In order to change the amplitude (the volume) at different points on a track you can use the Envelope tool.

When wanting to apply an effect to a certain selection or an entire track, make sure it is selected before using the “Effect” dropdown menu. All effects will be grayed out, if nothing is selected.

In order to delete certain section of a track, for example due to a mistake or to “dead” air (silence), highlight that section with the Selection tool and use the delete button on your keyboard.

  • In order to copy or cut a certain section of the track and then insert that part into another area or another track,  highlight the section with the Selection Tool, then use the shortcut CTRL-C to copy or CTRL-X to cut that area.
  • Insert the section by placing the selection bar at the desired insertion point and using the shortcut CTRL-V to paste the section.

Tip : Using the Zoom-In button will allow you to better find the exact section of the track to be edited.

Once your tracks are edited, music added as the background or as part of an introduction, transition or ending and different sections are organized in a desired sequence, it is time to export your Audacity Project file as an .mp3 file.
Click File then choose “Export as MP3”.

In order for you to export your Audacity project file as an MP3 file, you will also need to have installed a Lame-Encoder file to your computer.

Don’t worry, it is not hard and only needs to be done once. Do this by:

  • going to the  LAME download page (
  • Under “For Audacity on Windows”, left click on the link “” and save the zip folder to anywhere on your computer.
  • When you have finished downloading the ZIP folder, unzip it and save the file lame_enc.dll that it contains to anywhere on your computer.
  • Remember or write down WHERE you saved that file. Ex.:Desktop or My Documents folder, etc.

The first time you use the “Export as MP3” command, Audacity will ask you where lame_enc.dll is saved. Browse to the location and choose lame_enc.dll. Again, this will only have to be done ONCE.

Save your project file as an MP3 file and you are ready to upload these files to your website or blog, import into your iPod or use them in other programs discussed in this guide, such as MovieMaker or Photostory.