Easily edit your wedding songs to snip out the sad (or too long) bits

What is this I don't even!

The comments on our recent post, "Here Comes the Bride" alternatives for ALL kinds of processionals, had readers buzzing with song ideas and ways to make them more "wedding-ready." This could include making songs shorter to match processionals or first dances, or cutting out sad parts that might not fit with the atmosphere you're trying to convey. Reader Sarah responded with this question:

We need to edit out a sad bit in one of our ceremony songs, but that kind of computer magic is beyond me. How can we easily edit a song?

Guess what: that computer magic may be much easier than you think. I'm no audio editing expert, but I've done my fair share of snipping audio for online videos and webcasts. There are a few options for tools to do this, but my preferred software is called Audacity. The best part is that it's totally free to use. It also works with the latest versions of Windows, Mac, and GNU/Linux.

Once you've downloaded the tool, it can look a little daunting, but fear not: it's actually pretty simple to use, especially for just snipping song content.

I'm using the example that Sarah mentioned: "Life's a Happy Song" from The Muppets soundtrack. Once I was finished listening to "The Rainbow Connection" a few hundred times, I got around to finding the sad part that needed to be edited out.

Step 1: Open the audio file in Audacity. You'll see a bunch of buttons and a bunch of blue lines.

Step 2: Press the green Play button to find the point in the song that you want to edit out (or duplicate if you want to lengthen the song). Dance in your chair until you find that point.

Step 3: Using the Magnifying Glass button, zoom in to the point you want to edit as far as you need to accurately see where it starts and ends.

Step 4: Using your mouse, click and drag to highlight the segment of the song you don't want (or want to duplicate). In the case of "Life's a Happy Song," I deleted from 2:39 to 3:38.

Step 5: Either delete the segment by hitting the Delete key on your keyboard or copy it to your clipboard using Ctrl-C (Cmd-C for Macs). Deleting the segment will remove it from the song. Copying it will allow you to paste that segment wherever you want in the song… even multiple times if you want it to be much longer.

Step 6: Test out the song again with the Play button to make sure there isn't any weirdness like clipped words or overly long silences. Nip and tuck using the highlight method until you are satisfied. Sometimes this step is very simple, and sometimes you'll end up zooming really far in to snip out something tiny. Either way, it's totally doable.

Step 7: Go to File > Export and save the file in your preferred format (probably Mp3 or WAV). You can also go to File > Save Project to save the Audacity file for later editing. The song won't actually be ready to play until you choose to Export it, though.

You might become really excited about this tool and want to master all of its intricacies. If so, check out this wiki of all of the special effects, looping, and restoration tools that are available within the tool. But for most wedding purposes, the basic editing tools probably suffice.

Whether you're editing a song to add in some padding for a slow-walking ring bearer (or ring dog), want to make sure the sad part of your favorite song doesn't bring your guests down, or are putting together a big playlist for your iPod-DJed wedding, take a stab at editing the song yourself.

What song will you be editing?

  1. Well thank you SO much for this post. It's hilarious that the song I actually had to edit was "Life's a Happy Song" and now I know which parts I should clip! I was going to have to leave it in there otherwise.

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    • That's awesome! It was pretty easy finding the segment to snip. Should take only a few minutes total!

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    • I too am looking to edit "Life's a Happy Song"! I've downloaded Audacity a few wks ago but I just cannot make it work for me. You've inspired me to have another crack at it…

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  2. … I want to use this for karaoke purposes. Take out the long "repeat these three words over and over" parts or the guitar solo. For fun reasons.

    I'm thinking "The Luckiest". I know the part about the old couple is just the icing on the cake of sweetness with a little sad, but if I heard that at my wedding, I'd weep uncontrollably for hours. Pretty sure.

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    • Karaoke is perfect. (cut out the bits with the high part I can't reach!)

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    • It's been a while since I've used Audacity and I don't have it installed on this computer to check, but I believe there's a (not flawless) setting to take out vocals as well.

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  3. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! This post could NOT have come at a better time! I have a song that I am using for my entrance that needs a whole verse/chorus/verse removed and I thought I was going to have to resort to dubbing on a cassette tape the old school way. OBB never ceases to amaze me!

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  4. Superman, I think I love you. This is EXACTLY what I needed (and here I thought I'd have to pester my technophile/audiophile friends with some generic request). Cue endless repeat of chorus to fade once everyone has made it to their places!

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    • Yes! Audacity can totally do that. Good luck!

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  5. Loooove Audacity! It's a lifesaver, and so easy to use.

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  6. I already had plans to do exactly this for my processional song! (I may or may not have mentioned that on the original post.) The cover version of the song I want to walk down the aisle to is live only and is proceeded by the lead singer recounting his experience two weeks earlier singing the very same song to his dying grandmother. It's a lovely and very moving bit of audio, but I think for the sake of the scenario, we'll skip it.

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    • Did you do this, and do you still have it? After going thru all these threads I am thinking of sticking with my original song (airborne book of love cover, obv). I can play around with Audacity but I'm dumb, so I'd love help if you still have the cut.

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  7. For months I've been trying to find a friend to do this (for coincidently, life's a happy song, haha). This is awesome.
    I'm also going to edit "Home" (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros).

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    • Me too Gina!
      I have been worrying for weeks about how we were going to do our first dance for 5 minutes! It is definitely our song and I couldnt imagine anything else, but I didnt want to just do to the first chorus or anything. I will definitely be using this program to cut out the second verse and go to the end :-)
      "While you were sitting in the backseat smoking a cigarette you thought was gonna be your last…" – Love that bit, and now I can include it without the song seeming too long xx

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  8. Can't believe I got quoted in the article!WOOT! We'll be editing 'Life's a Happy Song" from The Muppets and 1234 by Plain White Tees. I'm going to try and make an instrumental version of 1234 by editing out the words, but we'll see how that goes.

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    • Ha! I thought I was the Sarah who was quoted :) We're using "Life's a Happy Song" as well. Hope you have a fab wedding!

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    • There is a cover of 1,2,3,4 on the Vitamin String Quartet that you could use. That way it is still the song but there is no words to it. I downloaded it last night off of iTunes.

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  9. Audacity is a great tool! Note that it won't actually let you export files as MP3s or a couple other formats without the LAME and FFmpeg tools downloaded.

    When you're in Audacity, open the manual from the Help menu and scroll down near the bottom where it says "Details for importing and exporting: LAME MP3 export and FFmpeg import/export libraries for more formats." (Those links will open up to the PC instructions, but just scroll down a little for Mac).

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    • My face fell when I saw "won't let you export MP3" and then I cheered back up when I saw LAME. Already got that for Audiograbber. Yay!

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    • I was trying to edit a few songs to make a medley using Audacity but the songs I bought from iTunes are MP4 files or something, so they won't import. Do you know what I can do or where I can get the songs in the proper format? I tried their FAQ and Help and Forum, but no luck!

      Thanks! :)

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      • I had this problem a while back too. If you right click on the song in iTunes and select "create acc version" that should make a file that you can use.

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  10. Thank you for this post! I have always been interested in doing this but didn't think there would be cheap software available to do it!

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  11. Best timing ever!!! This post comes on the very day I am making my wedding playlist (and wondering how I will walk slow enough to make it through my whole processional song!)

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  12. Yet another Tribesmaid chiming in to say, holy crap, perfect timing. I just worked out what the soundtrack to our ceremony should be today with my husband-elect, and realized that for best results we'd need to do some basic splicing of the sort just described in this article. We were going to try some backwards improvised route with movie editing software he as access to at school, but Audacity should be perfect for this! I bet they're getting a spike in popularity from this post for sure…

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  13. Considered doing this to Feist's Mushaboom… queer wedding… "I've got a man to stick it out" we thought "I've gotta *awkward pause* stick it out" sounds committed. We may play the original though because it's not a big deal to us but in case someone felt like gender policing me, it was worth considering.

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  14. Thank you for this :) I'm not getting married anytime soon but I have a few songs on my playlist that have long silences, either before a secret track or in the case of one song it may have been ripped wrong before I got it, I'm definitely gonna give this a go on those :)

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  15. Oh, and I'm splicing bits from the Star Wars original trilogy sound track into a seamless processional/during ceremony music/recessional track :D

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  16. And for anyone whose got a Mac with GarageBand pre-installed, you can do it in there, too.

    I'll be cutting out the single verse and oh-oh-ooooh bits from the middle of Trans Siberian Orchestra's Christmas Canon Rock: Pachabel's Canon in D with electric guitars for our processional :)

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  17. I used this to cut together a version of "Hey Baby!" that my father and I danced to. One verse was the original song; the next was my college marching band playing the next verse of same song. We did serious "dance with your dad" moves during the parts with the original song, then silly dance moves like "the swim" during the marching band parts. I also used Audacity to edit together a mashup of the Tarantella and the horah for a multicultural dance moment uniting both of her families. We called it "the TaraNagila."

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  18. Love this! I wanted to use Jimmy Buffet's "Little Miss Magic" for my father-daughter dance, but the line, "your mother's the only other woman for me" is pretty inappropriate now that he and my mother are divorced and remarried to new people!

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  19. Thank you so much for this!! I've been trying to find a way to edit and use the song Cara Mia Addio (Turret Opera) from Portal 2 to use as part of our ceremony!

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    • OH MY GOSH. It is awesome that you're using the turret opera! Gaming win!

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      • Yep, we have little bits of portal worked into many different parts of our wedding. We both love the game.

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  20. Thank you for this! I need to cut a line out of the Peggy Lee version of "let's do it, let's fall in love' for our first/swing dance and couldn't figure it out. I need to cut one line and combine it with the Ella Fitzgerald version so we can go from a slow song to the swing and this is a lifesaver!

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  21. I seem to be having an issue using Audacity; I can't get my songs on there to mess with them. Anyone else having this problem?

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  22. Another thing to mention is that if you're getting a weird click or pop noise after you've edited, it's probably because you've cut off the waveform mid-cycle.

    http://img.tfd.com/cde/WAVELEN.GIF

    Take a look a that picture. See that straight line running through the middle? After you've zoomed right in, you should try and snip the song as close to that line as possible. It won't affect your selection much at all. Zoomed in that far, we're dealing in milliseconds usually.
    If you can't seem to get your edit on or even close to the line, that's okay. Try using a fade tool to make your edit less noticeable.

    Happy editing! x

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  23. I just finished editing my processional music using this tool — THANK YOU! It took a bit of time to get the ending cut and faded out properly but it's perfect now.

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  24. But Whyyyyyyyy did I get to two weeks before my wedding and 10+ hours of music in my playlist before I realized that I can't do this in Spotify? I've got at least 8 songs that have ridiculously long intros or outros that I"m going to haver to cut–including QUEEN–because I can't edit the song.

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