Best Way to Rearrange Audio Clips?

I want to know if there is a better way to rearrange audio clips than my current method.

By “rearrange” I mean define small clips, process them, introduce silences, make duplicates,… and then place them together to make a final file. To give a concrete example, the diagram below shows how I currently do this, showing just the first 2 clips (there would be many more following the same pattern).

Here, 1=the first clip, 2=the second clip, and 1*=the first clip slowed down, 2*=the second clip slowed, a=small gap of silence, b=large gap of silence.
My current procedure is:

  1. Define region labels for the small clips
  2. Use Export>Multiple to produce .wav files for each small clip
  3. Generate .wav files containing silence to separate the small clips
  4. Name all the .wav files so they they will order correctly when re-imported into Audacity
  5. Import all .wav files into Audacity, select all and use Tracks>Align End-to-End
  6. Export as mp3 to produce the final audio

I’d appreciate knowing if there’s a better way to do this.


The “best” method is the method that works best for you.

An “alternative” method is to use just a few tracks with multiple clips per track:

  1. Split the track at the appropriate places (probably “command + i” on Mac)
  2. Add a new empty track (“Tracks” menu) - mono or stereo to match the original
  3. Switch to the Time Shift Tool
  4. On Linux / Windows “Ctrl + Click and drag” (possibly “Command + Click and drag” on Mac) some of the clips to the other track.
    Holding down the “Ctrl” (perhaps “Cmd” on Mac) key restricts the dragging to either up/down or left/right, so the time position remains the same when dragging down.

This allows you to adjust positions and lengths of the clips without altering the position of other clips.


Thanks again, Steve. I wanted to try your alternative, but couldn’t see how. I think it’s because I didn’t explain well enough.

original audio: 1-2-3-…
final audio: 1-a-1*-b1-1-b1-1-2-a-2*-b2-2-b2-2-3-

notice that clip 1 is repeated 3 times at normal speed (1) and one time at slow speed (1*), same for 2, etc…
also notice that while the short silence (a) is always the same, the longer silences have lengths corresponding to the preceding slow sound (b1 is as long as 1*, b2 is as long as 2*,…). This is important because the long silences are gaps where the listeners is supposed to repeat the preceding clip, which can vary in length.

I made an audacity project to apply your method, which is attached in compressed form. Here’s is an image of it.
The key point here, is that my audio will have many clips (~hundred) and so manipulating manually makes no sense.

-Tony (1.48 MB)

If you are not manipulating them manually, what are you doing?
It’s near impossible to suggest a workflow without knowing exactly what the task is.

My “tip” is essentially: Use as many tracks as necessary, but no more. If the task can be done with two tracks, use two tracks rather than twelve (when appropriate, make use of the fact that Audacity can support multiple clips in the same track).

I see my use of the term “manually” was misleading. What I meant was to manipulate each clip along the final track, using for example, the shift tool so that the clips position at the right place, or copying and pasting a clip from one track to another. No doubt you have another way in mind to do this, but I did those manipulations since I don’t know another way (except by method described originally).

If you or others could explain how to produce the final track in my simple example (having only 2 clips) then maybe I could apply it to a case having ~hundred clips.


If I understand your project correctly, perhaps you can use audacity’s macro feature to help. I tried the following with Audacity on Windows:

SelectTracks:Mode="Set" Track="2"
ChangeTempo:Percentage="-66.667" SBSMS="0"
SelectTracks:Mode="Set" Track="4"
SelectTracks:Mode="Set" Track="6"

I think it may do something similar to what you are looking for. You may wish to review the following links:

Create your two SilenceX files, install the above code as a macro, load in your first clip, and apply the macroo the Project. If you are happy with what you see, Apply macro to selected files. Results to to macro-output subdirectory. Then all you have to do is merge all the files in the new sub-directory.

I hope this helps. :smiley: