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Can you produce music with Audacity?

Can you produce music with Audacity?

Written by: Dexxter Clark, 27-11-2019
Could you make music with Audacity?
Absolutely!
But that you could, doesn’t mean you should! In this article I’ll explain why that is and why Audacity is your screwdriver.

The difference between an audio editor and a DAW

There are two different kinds of software packages for audio on the market: audio editor software and Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs).
With audio editors you can record sound, edit sound and apply effects like reverb.
An audio editor has knowledge of time (seconds, minutes) and a DAW has knowledge of BPM (beats per minute) and time.
In extension of this, changing tempo from 108 BPM to 110 BPM can be done without loss of quality in a DAW, but not an audio editor.
Ramping up tempo over time (the song starts at 120 BPM and gradually increases to 125 BPM in the song) is possible in a DAW, even in a exponential curved manner. If you want to place a high hat on the offbeat of a 109 BPM song requires a lot of effort to figure out where the offbeat is in an audio editor.
In a DAW that is a basic feature.

With a DAW you can actually create a sound with a synthesiser and record the note pitches in stead of the sound.
That is pitch recorded approach is called MIDI.
MIDI is super useful for music creation: if you want to change the sound of the pitch later, you can just choose another sound in a DAW.
A DAW has a Piano Roll which displays all the notes (C, D, E, F, G etc).
You can draw in notes on the piano roll or play the notes on a MIDI keyboard.
If you want to change the pitch of one note (because you missed one for example), it`s easy to do in a DAW.
You can randomise note starting positions automatically, so your song feels less robotic.
You can even make a swing rhythm with your notes and set the amount of swing.
That just isn’t possible with an audio editor.

An audio editor uses only audio manipulation effect plugins (like reverb or echo), a DAW uses audio effect plugins, audio creation plugins (samplers, synthesisers) and midi effect plugins.
With a midi effect plugin you program an arpeggiator for example which repeats the notes of a chord.
Side chaining for functions like ducking is generally not possible in an audio editor.
Side chaining uses the input of one track to influence another via a plugin.
With ducking a compressor can dip the volume of the bass track when the kick hits to prevent frequencies cancelling each other out.
You can do maybe a timed volume dip in some audio editors, but that get’s you in trouble when your track has an infrequent kick.
Ducking with a compressor in a DAW allows much more flexibility.
A proper DAW has an audio editor built-in.
So a DAW is basically an audio editor on steroids.

The screwdriver and the nail

That you can hammer a nail into the wall with a screwdriver doesn’t mean you should.
You use a hammer for that.
A hammer is quicker and more efficient, because it’s made for the job.

You might have guessed it:
Audacity is an audio editor and not a DAW.
Technically you can create beats with Audacity but it’s tedious and time consuming.
Audacity is the screwdriver to your nail, it’s just not the right tool for the job.

Since there are free DAWs on the market, there is no viable reason to use Audacity as your main program to make your track, except for being too lazy to learn a proper DAW.
Audition is the perfect tool to record a podcast and edit out the parts you don’t like, or apply some noise reduction.
If you look at the professional music producers that make the big hits, no one uses an audio editor to make their songs.
A DAW is more efficient and gives you much more control over your song.

If you are interested in downloading a free DAW, you should definitely check out this article where I discuss 17 free DAWs.
So you can pick the one you like best.

If you are serious about music production and want to take it to the next level,
download my free music production e-book.
Besides information about music production basics and computers for music production, the book gives also a unique perspective on the world of DJs and music producers.

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photo author dexxter clark
Dexxter Clark
Music Producer / YouTuber

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