Search for words in a digitized recording

Audacity is such a remarkable program I may be asking way too much of it now.

I’m looking for one track (song) on one of my many legally owned analog cassette tapes I’ve digitized with Audacity. Unfortunately, I can’t find the track title or artist name listed on any of the cassette tape jackets.

I’ve digitized each tape by exporting the recording on each side as its own file. So, each tape will have 2 digitized recordings - Side A and Side B.

Is there any way using Audacity that I could conduct a word search in those digitized recordings to find the track I’m looking for?

Ex. Title of track - Hold On. Can I search for the words “Hold On” either searching through all my digitized recordings or at least one digitized file at a time?

Thank you!

Audacity has no tools or effects that I know of to search for spoken words.

Most of the tools are “dumb” programs. They have no idea of content. This kills people trying to separate mixed performances into many solos. Audacity has no idea what a violin or a voice is and because of harmonics, overtones, and timbres, almost all instruments and voices have similar data signatures. No, you can’t filter out the higher pitched instrument or voice. The data overlaps too much.

There are products that claim to do this. Dragon Naturally Speaking I think is one. Google is your friend.



I thought I might be asking for too much.

Audacity does so much so well I took a shot just in case.


What do you want to do exactly?
If you want to identify the song, you can search for some words of the chorus or the very beginning in YouTube. There are often the lyrics included for a song, thus you may hit the right song after a while.

I know the title of the song and the artist. I’m trying to find exactly where that song is performed on the recoding without having to listen to the entire recording to find it.

Kind of a lyrics search akin to a word search in Libre Writer.

You can listen to recordings in less than half the time if you use “sliding time scale” (in Effects) …

However your brain may explode if you listen to long recordings at double speed :slight_smile:

I think it would be possible to take samples of (say) 3 seconds duration every minute from an audio file and concatenate them, so you could condense an hour long album into three minutes. If the songs were each more than a minute long you’d be guaranteed to hear a sample of it in the condensed summary version.

Is this song available on iTunes, Amazon, whatever as a download - it Shouldn’t cost much for a single song …




That accelerated shrub recording is hilarious.

I’m kinda’ new to Audacity.

Could you please give me a brief insight how to use “sliding time scale”?



Unfortunately, this song is older and has not been digitally recorded for sale anywhere which is why I’m trying to retrieve it.

I’ve managed to source some of those types from YouTube - kindly people upload non-commercially available old recordings :wink:


Does this page from the manual help: Audacity Manual



I looked over those manual pages but I’m still not quite sure the step-by-step process?

Do I first highlight the entire recoding by leaving the cursor at the very beginning of the digital recording and then choose Edit> Track to End so it highlights the whole recording then choose Effects > Sliding Time/Scale and would you recommend setting it to Initial Tempo: 150% and Final Tempo: 150%?

Or is that foo fast to comprehend what you’re hearing at that speed?

Would you recommend changing any of the other settings? Ex. Initial Pitch Shift? Final Pitch Shift?

People can be very generous in what they share on YouTube and it’s a great place to check for which version of songs you enjoy best. The problem is that it’s then in flash (?) format so if you download it you can’t then burn it to a CD to listen to off PC.

Thanks so much for all your help.

There are lots of ways to make selections.
A quick way to select All (everything in the project) is Ctrl+A (Command+A on Mac OS X).

If the track is one continuous recording, then you can quickly select the entire track by double clicking on it.

I’d suggest that you try applying the effect to a short section first. Ctrl+Z will undo the last action, so you can quite quickly try out different settings to see which is best for your needs. When you have settled on a setting to use, select the entire track and apply the effect.

More information about ways to make selections: Audacity Manual

130 is about as fast as I can cope with.png
The bad news is my computer takes about real-time to apply this effect , e.g. 1 minute to process 1 minute of audio.
so there is no actual time saving.

Is there a way Audacity can skip through a recording , e.g. advancing playback (say) to the next whole minute every time a key is pressed ? .

Why not use the change tempo effect? It is certainly faster than sliding time/pitch shift.
Shift-, and Shift-. make big steps while playing. I’ve set it to 15 s (in preferences). Holding shift and repeatedly pressing point let’s you really quick scan through the audio.

The sound quality is usually not as good with Change Tempo, but on most machines it should be a lot faster than Sliding Time Scale / Pitch Shift.
Also, Change Tempo has a “Preview” button that allows you to hear the effect applied to the first few seconds - useful for finding the right settings.

Also there is “Truncate Silence” that can be used to shrink the gaps between words. Audacity Manual though this can also be rather slow to process.

This is the effect of +150% Change Speed

That’s what I was looking for , “seek time when playing” in preferences, thanks Robert.