How to Create a Clean Version of a Song

Enough is enough! It was a great song until they had to go drop the F-bomb, in the original" sense of the word, no less! If you have a song you love, but either don't appreciate the profanity yourself or want to keep your kids from being exposed to more of it than they need, we'll show you how to create the "clean" version, right on your computer.


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    Obtain music editing software. Audacity is a free, open source software program available for download off their website. Follow the download instruction, then install Audacity. Once installed (a computer restart may be necessary) open Audacity and click File, then Open, or press Ctrl+O (Command-O on a Macintosh).
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    Browse to the song file (.mp3, .wma, or .wav) you wish to edit. Click Open. Two large, blue oscilloscope-like shapes will appear on the screen—one for the left channel (bottom) and one for the right (top).
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    Press the play icon on the toolbar and listen to the song until you reach the part of the song with the vulgar word. Press pause, and then zoom in on that section.
    • Continue zooming and rewinding until you can place your cursor on the exact part of the blue line that begins the foul word.
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    With your cursor, click and drag in the waveform area to select the duration of the inappropriate word. Verify you have the right selection by clicking on the green Play arrow.
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    Press the stop icon (the orange square), click on the Generate menu, and select one of the following options:
    • Silence—This selection will eliminate all sound from the selection, creating a traditional "radio edit." Click "Generate" on the popup window to complete the silence.
    • Tone—This selection will make a tone with a pitch that you can vary in the window which appears. This is a "television style" edit. Use the settings shown:
    • If you're musically inclined, you can set the pitch of the beep to be the same as the key of the song. For example, if the song is in the key of A (major or minor), set frequency to 880Hz.
    • Keep the Amplitude low to begin with, especially if you don't choose Sine wave—you can always undo and make it a bit louder if it's too soft.
    • You can also click the Effect menu and select Wahwah, setting resonance to 6.0. This makes the voice make another traditional radio edit sound, while leaving the beat rather than silence, although it does not work for all curse words.
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    Tip for the really musically-inclined: Take an instrumental section that matches the key and rhythm of the offending section, and replace the offending section with the instrumental bit. Take care so that the inserted section is the same number of samples as the deleted section, and if possible, make sure the waveforms line up at the beginning and the end.
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    Note the change of the waveform display. If you inserted a tone, for example, you'll see what looks like a solid block:
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    Test your edit. Rewind to a few seconds before the word, then press the play button to hear your effect. If it's not to your liking, simply undo, then try other methods till you find something acceptable.
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    Enjoy your music without the profanity.
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    Alternatively select the curse word, press the effects tab at the top and go down to Sliding Time Scale/Pitch Shift and where it says Final Pitch Shift (Semitones)[-12 to 12]: type in -12.000 and click okay. Then, click the effects button again and at the top it will say Repeat Sliding Time Scale/Pitch Shift. Click that button two or three times more and for the f word it will make a sound like 'fuwwww' or for the b word 'bewwww'.


  • Try using the "Reverse" Effect for a less disturbed sound, while still eliminating the word.
  • Keep your edits as short as possible. Since most songs have music and lyrics combined on both tracks, longer silences will make it sound worse.
  • For stereo tracks only: Use the vocal removal features. The vocal removal feature may not work as well and you may still hear some of the swear word found in the echos, backup voices and whatever else that isn't filtered.
  • If you are unable to select anything from the Generate or Effects menus, you either have the song playing or paused. Make sure you have the song stopped to edit.
  • You can also remove the word with a "record skipping" effect. To accomplish this, take a small portion of the song directly adjacent to where the profanity is located and paste it over where the word is located as many times as needed to fully cover it up. This works best if the short clip that replaces the word syncs up with the song's beat.
  • Zoom in when making selections for more accuracy.
  • To make your song sound better, it helps to have an instrumental of the song. The instrumental method will help in cleaning a song more professionally. It will also maintain the instrumental part without having the cuss word in it.


  • Understand that some songs are so full of bad words that you might lose the effect of the song by "cleaning" it.
  • Do not edit someone else's music for distribution without permission from the copyright holder. Some people have run afoul of the law as a result of doing this.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Songs and Song Writing