Free Materials For Teachers
Image©2008 ABS Many Voices graphic
Many voices from one

When I did the Halloween Jack ‘O Lantern activities, I needed a sound clip for the finale with several people talking at once. Since there was only me to do it, this could have been a problem. But luckily I had Audacity to help me out. Audacity is a powerful, and better yet, free sound editing program, and you can read more about it right here in the Attic.

I started out by recording my sound clip, using the default New document in Audacity. The default is a stereo sound track, so the waveform for the clip is displayed twice, one above the other.  I went to File and chose New again, to open a second new document, and recorded the same clip using my voice slower and in a slightly higher pitch, just to make it a little different.

Using these two short recordings, I was able to generate what sounds like four different people talking together, their voices overlapping but not precisely. Here’s the general procedure; but if you want to try it, download the PDF from the bottom of the page for more detailed instructions and screen shots.

  • 1. Record several stereo samples, saying the same words at slightly different pitch. Save each sample.
  • 2. Use the drop-down beside the waveform to access Split Stereo Track.  Do this for each sample.
  • 3. Select individual tracks and make changes as desired, such as pitch changes, insert a short silence at the start, change tempo slightly. Save each sample again.
  • 4. Add blank audio tracks to Sample 1. You need one for each track in the other samples.  Example: If you recorded 3 stereo samples, you eventually would have 6 tracks. Add 4 blank tracks to Sample one, so there is space for all 6.
  • 5. Copy each track in the other samples and paste each into a blank track in Sample 1. Save the combined sample.
  • 6. Select two adjacent tracks. Use the drop-down to access Make Stereo Track. (Undo the split). Repeat this for each pair of tracks.
  • 7. Select one of the new stereo tracks, go to Tracks menu, Mix and Render. Select again, Tracks menu again, Make Mono. Condense each stereo track down to a mono track in this way.
  • 8. Select a pair of mono tracks, and repeat from step 6.   Continue eliminating tracks until all the sounds are combined into one.  SAVE!!!!
  • 9. (Optional) Adjust the project rate down, if file size is priority.
  • 10. Export the finished sound effect as .wav or better yet as .mp3.

Application(s) needed: Acrobat Reader, Audacity.
Subject area: Technical Tip.
Level: Teacher, Author.


ManyVoices.pdf (110.5 KB) PDF file of expanded instructions, including screen shots from Audacity. Requires Acrobat Reader to open tutorial, and Audacity application to create the sound effect.

Online Many Voices tutorial Online version of of expanded instructions, including screen shots from Audacity. Requires Audacity application to create the sound effect.

October 25th, 2008 at 3:09 pm


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