Audacity Tips For Music Teachers Part 5: How To Remove Vocals From A Song

Audacity Tips For Music Teachers Part 5: How To Remove Vocals From A Song

Part 5 of a 5-part series

This is the fifth installment of the Audacity Tutorials for Music Teachers series and this week we look at how to remove the vocals from a recording.

The other tutorial videos can be found here:

Part 5 – How to remove vocals from a song

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By |2018-09-07T01:30:25+00:00July 2nd, 2014|Macs and PCs, Teacher Tech Tips|11 Comments

About the Author:

I love to simplify technology for music teachers. I help teachers from all around the world through the Midnight Music Community - an online professional development community where teachers can take online courses, ask questions and receive personalised help for the music tech goals.


  1. GRACE September 12, 2015 at 2:36 am - Reply

    Hi Katie,

    I recently lost my husband. I sang professionally (in the day) and have, since my husband’s death, researched several karaoke sites to get the karaoke CD to “You Were Just Here” by JoDee Messina. It is actually on YouTube, but I need the CD in order to record it to a CD I am making in tribute to my husband and place it within a scrapbook I am creating for him. I also want to make a copy to place where he now lies. I found your name on pinterest and your introduction about integrating “technology” in music classes. I am not a teacher – just a widow who wants to fulfill a promise she made to her husband. Do you know how I can remove the JoDee Messina vocal from my CD? I have found many beautiful ballads that I am planning to record when the tears stop flowing, but this song is so specific to our lives. Thank you for any assistance.


    • Katie September 15, 2015 at 11:03 am - Reply

      Hello Grace,

      I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. The method outlined above would be what I suggest – you would import the recording from your CD on to your computer and then import it into Audacity and follow the steps to remove the vocals. You’ll need to be aware of copyright implications too. However, the success of this method really depends on the way the CD was recorded/mixed in the first place. With some recordings it simply won’t work well and there’s not a lot you can do about it. The best thing I could suggest is to see if anyone has made a commercially available backing track. You could try the iTunes store, Spotify or other similar services. Good luck and I wish you well.
      – Katie

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  3. Karl June 8, 2016 at 6:40 am - Reply

    You speak much too quickly and together with your accent it makes this video nearly impossible for me to follow.

    • Katie June 8, 2016 at 1:06 pm - Reply

      Hi Karl – it’s funny, in 8 years of running workshops and training sessions no one has ever made that comment! You might like to use the pause button between each step perhaps? There aren’t too many steps to this process. In brief, you need to import the audio file, then go to Effects > Vocal Remover for Centre Panned Vocals. Those are the two main steps. The rest of the video explains why this doesn’t always work (which is due to the way in which the track was recorded in the first place) and also suggests looking for commercial backing tracks first before editing the track in Audacity (because you’ll have a higher quality backing)

  4. Lisa September 13, 2016 at 8:50 am - Reply

    How do I convert a record to a CD? Thanks for your help.

    • Katie September 13, 2016 at 11:11 am - Reply

      Hi Lisa – you’ll need a turntable with a USB connection (something like these ones) that allows you to connect it to your computer. Then the basic steps are to open Audacity, start playback of the record and record it straight into Audacity so that it turns into a digital version. You can then burn a CD of the digital version. There are detailed instructions for doing that here and here. Hope that helps.

  5. t-bra October 8, 2017 at 8:34 am - Reply

    how am I going to remove vocals from audacity

    • Katie October 9, 2017 at 7:20 am - Reply

      Hello! The video above explains the process. It also explains that the method will not work on all songs (it depends how they were recorded/engineered). It’s a quick process so give it a go.

  6. Polly April 20, 2018 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    hello, I followed the video to remove vocals, but after exporting there were still lyrics, why? I also went to some other tutorials including Lifeware, Wonderfox, etc. I also sent them an email, but I haven’t got a reply yet. Can you give me an answer?

    • Katie May 3, 2018 at 3:09 pm - Reply

      Hi Polly – as I mention in the video, the success of removing the vocals really depends on how the track was recorded and mixed in the first place. If the vocals are not panned cleanly to the centre then they may remain even after you’ve done the steps mentioned. Also – there may be backing vocals that are present in the track which are panned left or right. For some songs, the vocal remover feature simply doesn’t work.

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