Envelope Editing

Audacity lets you edit the amplitude envelope of a track directly using the Envelope Tool:

Envelope tool

Editing the amplitude envelope lets you change the volume of a track gradually over time by adding a number of control points to the track. Each control point sets the amplitude (volume) at that point in time, which can be as low as zero, and as high as 150% of the normal maximum volume, and the volume is interpolated smoothly between the points.

The image below shows a track with an amplitude envelope, with the Envelope Tool selected:

In the figure above, there are five control points, at 1.0, 3.0, 5.0, 7.0, and 9.0 seconds. Each control point has up to four "handles" arranged vertically. The top and bottom handles are positioned at the target volume, and the middle handles are positioned a quarter-screen down, giving you a way to move the envelope above the 1.0 level.

Note the dotted line at the top and bottom between 5.0 and 8.0 seconds. This indicates that the actual envelope is above the screen. You can see the entire contour by zooming vertically - position the cursor over the vertical ruler to the left of the track and shift-click to zoom out.

To create a new control point, just click. To move a point, just drag. To remove a point, click on it and drag it outside of the track, then let go.