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Remix your favourite tracks in GarageBand

Produce your own, ‘extended’ versions of your favourite tunes

The term ‘remix’ has evolved to mean replacing the entire backing track of a song, and often most of the vocals as well, to construct an entirely new version that belongs to a whole other genre than the original. Back in the days of analog tape, however, a remix was often just an extended version made up from extra, different sections of the original that had most likely been produced at the mixdown stage specifically for the purpose. GarageBand’s audio editing toolset makes it easy to do this kind of thing for yourself. In this tutorial, we’ll demonstrate how to import an audio file of a song and lock it to your project’s tempo grid, making it easy to add new parts and swap sections around to end up with your own completely new and unique version.

GBX Remix 01

1 Import audio file

Create a new empty GarageBand project and turn off the metronome using the toolbar button. Drag and drop an audio file of the song you want to work on into the timeline.

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2 Trim to first downbeat

Double-click the audio region to open the Edit window, then zoom in close and place the playhead directly before the first major downbeat – usually where the drums start.

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3 Line it up

Split the region using the Cmd+T keyboard shortcut. Delete the unwanted first section, then drag the remaining region so that the left edge snaps to bar 1, beat 1.

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4 Cycle bar 1

Set the cycle region to bars 1-2 and adjust the project tempo until the first bar loops cleanly. Check that it’s right by looping other bars further down the song.

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5 Restore intro

With the tempo established, reposition the region to an appropriate bar and redrag out its left corner to restore the intro section. Then choose Track>Show Arrangement Track.

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6 Create arrange region

Click the small grey + button to create your first arrange region. Resize it to the correct length by dragging its right edge, then single- click to name it.

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7 Mark out sections

Repeat the previous step to create more regions. You can do this while the track is playing. Marking out the entire song makes it easier when changing the arrangement.

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8 Experiment!

Now you can drag arrange regions to move them, or Alt+drag to copy them. Here, we’ve copied the outro section and placed it before the first verse to make an extended intro.

GBX Remix 09

9 Fine-tune

You can fine-tune your edits by dragging region borders around independently of the arrange markers for smoother transitions between sections.