How To Balance Volumes in a Dynamic Introduction

There seems to be a few themes with audio documentaries. For one, they all include an intro. In order to make our audio documentaries seems professional and quality to listeners, it’s important that we create some sort of introductory sequence. An intro is like the credits of a film or the theme song of a sitcom. It offers up an introduction to the program about to commence, and gives composers an opportunity to introduce themselves by name as well as their podcast/audio show to listeners in a standard and familiar format. There are evidently many ways to go about composing your intro, but two elements that most intros seem to have are music and a scripted aural snippet performed by the host of the show.

We have already learned how to layer multiple tracks in audacity. You simply put two audio files on two different tracks and they will play over each other. To create an intro, this is the first step. Additionally, we have already learned how to manipulate output volume levels. When composing your audio documentary intro, you may want to lower the volume on the complementary music in order to make the words spoken by the host easily discernible. There’s only one problem. What if you want to make the music loud for the segments when it plays by itself? In other words, how can you make the music fade in volume specifically for when the host is introducing herself and the show, while keeping it at full volume in other points? That’s where my tip comes in.

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 3.03.45 PM

So there’s audacity. I’ve got my scripted intro on the top track and my introductory song on the bottom track. In order to manipulate the sound volume of the song at specific points I need to use the tool in the top middle row of tools, directly to the right of the record button. The icon is of two triangles with a horizontal line going between them. The “envelope” tool.

Hovering over the area in my music track where the gray area meets the white area, I make four “envelope” marks. Two close together right as the host (me) begins speaking, and two more close together right when I end speaking. This small audio section between each pair of dots marks exactly where the music will fade out and then fade back in. I can then drag the dots down, making the audio track visibly smaller, to manipulate the music’s volume for the entire enveloped section.

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 3.13.11 PMScreen Shot 2013-11-15 at 3.13.19 PM

From here you can play around with the fade times and volume switches until you get your audio documentary intro sounding exactly how you want it.

Using the envelope tool was a way I discovered to create seamless transitions between music and speaking, but it also has many other uses. It can be used to fade between two speakers, to fade sound effects, or to fade a long rambling dialogue to transition into a new section.

I hope you all find it useful!


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