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Working with Music and Sounds

Page history last edited by Mallory Burton 12 years, 5 months ago

Downloading Music and Sounds

In general, you can download media such as photos, sounds, and video by right-clicking and choosing Copy or Save Target As.  Or, select the image and choose Copy from the Edit menu.  Be careful to observe copyright when downloading media or make it a policy only to use Creative Commons or Public Domain media.  If the media is too large to download or copyright is an issue, consider just linking to it instead. 


Sites for Public Domain and Creative Commons Music and Sounds

Jamendo is a great place to find free music to use in your presentations, but I would not recommend letting students browse there because they may encounter unsuitable cover art.  It would be better to download a selection and let students choose from those. 

The Freesound Project contains CC sound effects and loops.

Soundsnap contains many sound effects and loops, organized in an attractive and easy to use interface.   You can browse and play all of the sounds for free.  You can download 5 files per month with a free account. (Used to be completely free.)


  Here is a downloadable list of creative commons or public domain music and sounds.


Music and Sound File Formats

If you hover the cursor over an audio file in Windows, you will see its size.  If you select an audio file on the Mac and go to Get Info under File, you can find its size.


The most common file types used for audio files are explained in this Wikipedia entry.  The most common types are:


File Type Description of File Type

 a very large, high quality, uncompressed format used mainly in Windows

(typical 3 minute song 30-40 MB)


 a very large, high quality, uncompressed format used mainly on Macs

(typical 3 minute song 30-40 MB)


a popular compressed format of lesser (but still very decent) quality and much smaller size

(typical 3 minute song 3-4 MB)

 WMA a compressed format of lesser quality and smaller size used by Windows Media Player


Converting Sound Files


The free online utility Zamzar can be used to convert from one file type to another.  A link to download the converted files is sent to your email address.



Creating Sound Files


For most classroom uses, you will want to record or download audio files in the mp3 format.  


In Windows, go to Programs/Accessories/Entertainment and use Sound Recorder to make simple sound recordings in WAV format.  Then use a converter to change the format to mp3.

On a Mac, use Sound Studio to make simple recordings that can be saved in AIFF or WAV format.  Then use a converter to change the format to mp3.  The podcast section of Garage Band is a bit overkill for a simple voice recording but it allows you to export an mp3.  Select Male or Female Voice as your track and press the record button.  It's pretty intuitive EXCEPT the Play button doubles as the Stop button.  Use the Share menu to export the file as an mp3. 

With a free audio editing program such as Audacity (Windows and Mac), you can record audio files, convert files from one format to another, change the volume or speed, and shorten files.  For Windows, you also need to download the LAME plug-in if you want to convert WAV to MP3.   



Digital Voice Recorders 


You can also use Digital Voice Recorders to record sounds, interviews, assignments, test answers, or even whole lectures.  I have not been able to find one that records in mp3; they all seem to use their own type of compression.  I like the Olympus recorders that work on ordinary batteries and have a built-in USB port and have had success converting the file type they use for Windows and Mac.


The newest iTouch can be used to amplify sound and can also be used as a recorder.  Check out the recording app and other accessibility features in this post.



Adding Sound Files to Word


Did you know that you can embed sound files in the Windows version of Word using the Voice Comments feature? 


Adding Sound Files to Notebook


The Notebook Gallery includes objects with sound files attached for several key words, letters, animals, and musical instruments.  You can find these by searching for the key word "sound".  The audio files are indicated by a little speaker icon in the corner, which you click to play the sound.  You can also right-click any object and choose "sound" to attach an mp3 file, change the existing sound, remove the sound, or make the sound play when you touch any part of the whole object.  You can add audio clips to a Notebook file by dragging them from the Gallery or importing them using Insert sound. 


Related Topics

Sending and Sharing Large Files

Podcasts and Vodcasts in the Classroom.doc



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