A Great Lakes Colleges Association initiative supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Soundcite—Animate Written Narrative with Spoken Word and Soundscapes

What if you could read about the key themes of your oral history project, but actually hear the voices you quote as you read the text? The Knight Lab at Northwestern University has a phenomenal tool that does just that— Soundcite for inline audio. Try out this tool if you will write any web-hosted long-form narrative and you’d like to your reader to hear pithy quotes and soundscapes collected during fieldwork.

Why Use This Tool?

Soundcite allows the user to embed audio clips within a story to enhance the experience of the narrative. It’s one thing to read what an interviewee says about living on the island of Tangier, where the seas are the rising and the youth are disappearing to the mainland, but it’s another thing to hear them speak in their dialect. Soundcite provides an auditory sensation for the reader that puts them in the middle of the scenario they’re reading about, plays them a relevant soundscape, or even lets them in on a conversation or phone call that an article is referencing.

Host your Audio in Soundcloud

To get down to the basics of how to use Soundcite, we first need to know how to use SoundCloud. Soundcite, in it’s essence, rips media from SoundCloud, cuts it, and embeds it with a text overlay into your project. To upload media to SoundCloud, go to and click the “Create Account” button, shown below. If you already have an account you can obviously skip this step.

Once your account is created, the page should look something like this (we’re using my own personal SoundCloud in this example, forgive me) and you can click the “Upload” function at the upper right-hand corner, find your media file on your computer, and upload it. That’s it for SoundCloud! SoundCloud does have some copyright filters in it so if you try to upload a song or copyrighted audio file it might give you some issues. That being said, if you’re trying to use a copyrighted audio file, odds are the artist has uploaded it to SoundCloud already and you’ll be able to use it in Soundcite no problem.

Paste the Audio URL in Soundcite

Okay, on to Soundcite. Soundcite has three steps to it, that’s it. We’ll cover each of them. The first step is to copy and paste the SoundCloud URL into the first box on Soundcite’s website. Again, we’re using a clip from my own personal SoundCloud for ease of use and for a bit of shameless self-promotion. As you can see, the URL is pasted into the box. Click the “Load” button to the immediate right of the URL box to continue to the next step.

Identify Clip to Play by Start & Stop Times

Step two is to select the part of your audio clip you want to play. Now, if you already have your audio trimmed and intend to use the entire SoundCloud clip you chose to upload, this step isn’t necessary for you. But, if you uploaded an interview and want to use a single quote, or uploaded a song and want to play one riff, this is a key step. The step 2 portion will look like this and you’ll be able to play the SoundCloud file to find your start and stop times. You can either mark these manually or choose the “Set From Player” button below the Start and Stop times to get an exact time. Lastly for step 2, choose what you want the text overlay to say. For my example, I chose “In The Forest” because that’s the title of the track I am using.

Embed Code into WordPress Page

The last step is to copy and paste the embed code that Soundcite produces at the top of your project page. Then, when the area of the text where you want to play the clip comes up, paste the Embed Code for the specific clip in there.





For example, if I wanted to say In The Forest is a song made by Strangers By The Lake in the Summer of 2016, wouldn’t it be cooler like this?

In The Forest is a song made by Strangers By The Lake in the Summer of 2016.

That’s it! That’s how you use Soundcite, a Knight Lab program from Northwestern University. Click over to the SoundCite page for a great video tutorial.

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