Sine wave tune

If I want to use Audacity to write a short tune using generated sine wave tones, what would be the best way to do that? Record over a preexisting track? Use the generator? Nyquist?

I hope this question isn’t too obvious. I’m totally new to Audacity, and I looked over the FAQ and wiki but I was still puzzled. Thanks in advance.

– Jess

I don’t think there’s anything obvious about this question. It’s new to me, at least.

I think you’re going to drive yourself crazy trying to do this, but it’s certainly possible. Audacity has a Generate → Tone function that you can use to make all the sine waves you want, but that means you’ll have to generate each tone individually and string them all together using the Time Shift tool.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no way to automate Audacity to generate a “score” or frequencies. So you’d have to do it the old fashioned way by manually adding each note.

Coincidentally, this is the way they made the original Doctor Who theme song. Granted, that piece of music was more than just a bunch of sines strung together, but the methods you would need would be similar.

On the other hand, you could just buy a synthesizer that can generate sine waves. You’ll save yourself a lot of time doing it that way.

:smiley: I just love the unusual things that people do with Audacity :smiley:

This one is right up my street, it’s the kind of weird thing I do all the time.
Yes it’s a little time consuming, but here’s how I approach it:

First create a “palette” of sounds - these are the individual “notes” that you will use.
In your case they will in fact be “notes”, but for variety you could add in some noise, or other multi-tone sounds.

For a “conventional tune” you will need to generate each note of the scale - for sine waves, use “Generate → Tone”.
Create about 30 seconds for each pitch that you require (you will need at least 8 for a full octave)
For a conventional scale, you can look up the required frequencies here:

Now you need to cut some bits off each of these to make your crotchets, quavers, etc.
If you prefer to have long “pad” type sounds, just make a copy that is long enough for the full duration of the longest instance and you will be able to shape the amplitude using the envelope tool.

You may wish to shape the attack and decay of each clip, which you can do with the envelope tool.

When you have completed each distinct sound clip, you need to render them. Try and group them with some sort of system, such as an octave scale of crochets on one track, an octave scale of quavers on a second track, etc.

You can save a bit of time by using the “Change Pitch” or “Change Speed” effects (I’ll not go into that now, but try them out so you are familiar with what they do - you can certainly use these for making more octaves, but may be easier to do that in the next phase.

Right, so you’ve done a lot of work so far, and you don’t want to loose it, so “Save” the project, and “Export” the tracks which have your “notes”.

Now create a new project and “Import” the wav files that you previously exported.

Now you can create a melody by copying and pasting your notes into a new track.

It is probably easiest to use a tempo that allows you to use “snap to …” for easy placing of notes - for example, set the “Time format” to 24 frames per second, and use a tempo of 180 bpm, then you have exactly 8 frames per beat. You can always speed it up or slow it down later.

If you need your notes to overlap, use 2 (or more tracks) so that there is no overlap of notes on any single track (as pasting over existing audio will not automatically “mix” the notes).

Now repeat this for any other parts.

Render the tracks for each “instrument” separately (probably best to save a backup of the project before you render).

You can now pan each instrument as required, add effects, or whatever, and mix down your completed masterpiece.

Hope that gives you some ideas (DO have a play with these techniques so that you are familiar with how they work before you get too involved in a big project)

(The original Doctor Who theme was performed on an ARP Odyssey monophonic synthesizer - fantastic instrument :slight_smile:)

Wow, this is amazing! I didn’t know that this question would generate such complex and creative answers :slight_smile:

Thanks for the help, you’ve given me a lot to think about, and if I find anything new I’ll be sure to post it here as well :slight_smile:

– Jess

I look forward to hearing how you get on :slight_smile:

You can use Nyquist plug-ins to automate some of this:,-for-testing-td12372774.html

Cool - thanks for the update richard.

Here’s the links again so they are clickable:,-for-testing-td12372774.html

BTW, to use the “URL” feature in the forum, type the words that you want to make a link out of (such as “Click Here”), then select the text and click on the URL button which will place the URL tags around your text, then after the first “URL”, type “” for the page that you want to link to. For example, to link to the forum home page you can have something like this:

[url=]Click Here[/url]

Which will look like this:
Click Here

If you just want a clickable link, you don’t need to use the “URL” button at all, just type the full address (including http://) and it will be clickable.