Audacity How to Cut Music – Step-by-Step Guide, FAQs & More

After you edit and clean up your audio narration for the online course, you can choose to add some background music to it to give it that extra kick. 

While this step is completely optional, it can definitely do wonders for the engagement of your students whilst they listen to your narration. 

In this post, we’ll detail how you can effectively cut and add background music to your audio narration using Audacity in order to make your online course more compelling. 

A Word of Caution Before We Start

Before we start getting into how you can effectively cut music and audio in Audacity, we have to make something extremely clear: 

The music you add in the background of your audio narration has to be extremely minimal and not flashy at all. The goal of it is to add some background ambiance only. If you add music that is too overwhelming, your students will get distracted and won’t focus on what you’re saying. 

Thus, when you select the type of music you want to add, ensure that it’s not too engaging so your students only focus on what you say and not on the music in the background. 

Where Do You Get the Background Music from? 

There are a number of sources you can utilize to get copyright-free music for your audio narrations. 

The number one source for stock audio is Youtube. Just search for “background music copyright free” on Youtube and you’ll be greeted with a large library of stock music that is free to use. 

There are also websites online that host a wide library of copyright-free music and audio for many different scenarios. Our favorites are and

You can also choose to create your own background audio although this would be very time-consuming and we recommend you don’t go for this route unless you already have experience with music creation and can do it within a reasonable time. 

Adding Background Music to Your Audio Narration in Audacity 

Now that you know the purpose of the background music, let’s get into how you can effectively add it to your audio narration using Audacity: 

Step 1: Open Your Finalized Audio Narration in Audacity 

You will most likely have a finalized audio file for each lesson in your online course. 

Thus, you’ll have to conduct this process for every audio narration that corresponds to each lesson within your online course. 

Important Note: It’s essential that you clean up your audio narration clips and remove all unwanted noise before performing these steps to add background music to them. We have a detailed post on how to clean up voice-overs in Audacity that you can check out. 

Open Audacity and then the finalized audio narration file within it.

You can do this by clicking on File in the top menu in Audacity, open and then choose the audio file for your first narration as shown: 

time shift tool trim audio delete key dead space editing time shift clip keyboard note export clips recording clip editing content creator audacity

time shift tool trim audio delete key dead space editing time shift clip audio production file type empty space left cursor left mouse same time audacity

Step 2: Import the Audio File Containing Music into Audacity

The next step is to import the audio file that contains the background music you want to add. 

You can do this simply by clicking on File again and then on Import. From the file explorer window, select the music file you want to include and click Open. 

time shift tool trim audio delete key dead space editing time shift clip empty space audacity track drag tracks mouse stop button icon time shift audacity

You should now see two waveforms within Audacity separated by a thick yellow line, one that represents your narration and the other that represent the background music as shown: 

time shift tool trim audio time shift clip editing audacity edit two arrows menu delete windows highlight song press beginning icon cursor drag

Step 3: Cut Out the Excess Using the Selection Tool

As you can see in our example above, our audio narration is much shorter than the background music we’ve imported underneath it. 

Thus, the first thing to do is to remove that excess. 

You can do this through the audio selection tool. 

Simply click on the audio selection tool in the top menu bar in Audacity window and then click on the part where you want the audio to be cut out. 

time shift tool trim audio time shift clip editing audacity clip edit recording two arrows menu delete highlight song press beginning

Quick Tip: There’s a faster way to make selections on audio clips within Audacity by using the F1 keyboard shortcut. Just make sure your cursor is placed on the point of the audio clip from where you want to cut it when you press F1. 

You can play the audio from that point to see how it sounds in order to make a more effective decision about where to cut off the music. 

Try to cut it out at a point where the beat or rhythm finishes before starting up again. While we’ll make further adjustments to ensure the cut doesn’t sound abrupt, it’s still helpful to pay attention to this during the cutting stage as well. 

So, once you’ve placed a marker at the point where you want to cut the selection tool, go to Edit, then to Clip Boundaries and finally, click on Split. 

time shift tool trim audio time shift clip audacity clip edit recording delete drag highlight press beginning song

This will split the single music audio file into two separate ones. You can also use the keyboard shortcut for splitting which is Ctrl + I instead of going to Clip Boundaries.

Once you’ve split the file into two separate clips, you should see a vertical dark line that indicates the audio is not split into two as shown: 

time shift tool trim audio time shift clip audacity clip edit recording delete drag press beginning song

Double-click on the second clip which is the one you want to cut out in order to select it. It should get highlighted light blue as shown: 

audacity edit delete song

Once you have the undesirable audio content selected, press either the delete key or the backspace key in order to remove it from your project. 

The unwanted section will be deleted and you’ll be left with a music file that ends right around the time where your audio narration ends as shown: 

audacity edit delete song

Quick Tip: Using the audio selection tool to select a specific part of the audio clip to be cut can be difficult if you’re not properly zoomed in. You can zoom in and zoom out within Audacity by holding Ctrl and scrolling up or down depending on if you want to zoom in or out respectively.

Step 4: Adjusting Volume Levels 

Once you’ve cut the music file, bring the selection tool to the start of your audio project and listen to it. 

You can play it by pressing the green play button at the top bar or by pressing the space bar. 

What you’ll most likely hear is that the music is too overbearing for your audio recording. 

Hence, once you’ve cut audio, the next step is to adjust volume levels according to your narration. 

You can adjust the volume level of an audio file by sliding the DB slider on the left to its waveform as shown in the screenshot below: 

 audacity edit delete song

Naturally, this will require a little trial and error. Thus, you should play with the volume levels of both your audio narration as well as your background music audio clip to reach a point that’s acceptable. 

What exactly is acceptable though? 

Well, the background music should be low enough that it doesn’t distract students from what you’re saying. 

Remember that your narration should be the core of your audio. The background music is only there to give some ambiance, that’s all. 

As for the channels slider below the DB slider, that should always be centered. You don’t want the music to be too overbearing in one channel since this will cause distraction.  

audio narration

Once you’ve fixed the audio in Audacity to the point where your narration is clear and legible with the background music only providing ambiance, you’re almost done. 

There’s just one final step left: 

Step 5: Adding a Fade Out at the End 

In step 3, we mentioned how you should use the selection tool to clip boundaries and cut audio in a way so that the cut doesn’t seem too jarring. 

This is because you don’t want the music to have too abrupt of an ending as that does not sound professional and reflects poorly on your students. 

Although you may have done this during audio editing, you’ll notice that it may still sound a bit abrupt. 

To amend this, you’ll make the music clip slowly fade out towards the end. 

First, double-click on the music file to select it. Next, choose the Envelope tool from the top toolbar. It’s right next to the selection tool as shown: 

select music file

You can also select it by pressing the F2 keyboard shortcut.

The Envelope tool is a bit difficult to master but it can help you immensely when you want to fade out music appropriately. 

It lets you create points on the waveform and adjust its volume levels according to those created points. 

In order to add an appropriate fade to end your background music, create three points near the end of the clip and create a kind of funnel as shown in the screenshot below: 

fade noise

Naturally, you should press the play button and listen to the result to see if it’s appropriate or not. 

You may have to adjust the points a few times before you get the desired result. 

Step 6: Export Audio 

The last step is fairly simple and you will most probably have done it before: exporting your audio. 

Click on File in the top menu and click on Export, choose your settings appropriately. 

We’ve made a post on the best mp3 export settings in Audacity that you can check out. 

Once you have chosen the appropriate settings, you can export audio. 

Wrapping Things Up… 

Audio in Audacity is very easy to manipulate and you can easily perform effective audio manipulation techniques to make your narration sound the best it possibly can. 

While adding music to your narration is not all too common among online course creators, it certainly can elevate your audio narration if done properly. 

Let us know if there is anything further you would like to know.