How to Mash Up Songs Using Garage Band

By Chris Anzalone

Updated September 22, 2017

i David Oxberry/Digital Vision/Getty Images

GarageBand is Apple’s commercial grade music recording and editing software, which comes standard with Mac OS X Leopard and Snow Leopard, and as part of the company’s iLife software series. In addition to composing original music from scratch, you can use this program to edit already-existing music. For example, you can take two or more song files and create music “mash-ups,” remixes that combine elements from multiple songs.

Open GarageBand (Macintosh HD > Applications > GarageBand) and create a new project. If you do not currently have an active project in GarageBand, a navigation window should appear, featuring a “New Music Project” button. Otherwise, click “File” on the menu bar and select “New” from the drop down menu. When the “New Project” window appears, enter a name for your mash-up and click “Create.”

Create a blank audio track for each song file that you want to include in your mash-up. For instance, if you want to mash-up two songs, create two audio tracks. Click “Track” on the menu bar at the top of your screen and select “New Track” from the drop down menu. When the pop-up menu appears, select “Real Instrument” from the list and click “Create.” Your tracks will appear as long horizontal spaces stacked atop one another in the main work window.

Drag your audio files onto your screen with your mouse, placing one file on each empty track. For the time being, it does not matter where they appear on the time line (which appears like a ruler along the top of your GarageBand window), as you will place them in their appropriate spots later.

Remove the parts of each song that you do not want. Mash-ups typically incorporate key parts of different songs, like choruses. To eliminate unwanted sections, find the parts that you would like to save, and isolate them from the rest of the file. For example, if you want to save the chorus from one particular song and discard everything else, click the time line at the beginning of the chorus to set your cursor in that spot. Then click “Edit” on the menu bar and select “Split” from the drop down menu to divide the file into two regions. Click the time line at the end of the chorus and do the same. Then click the regions appearing before and after the chorus and click “Delete” to remove them. Do this for each song.

Drag each remaining region to the place where it should appear along the time line, while keeping each region on its respective track. Overlap each region slightly to set up your transitions between songs. For example, you might place the chorus of “song A” at “00:00” on the time line, ending at “00:40,” and then place the beginning of “song B” at approximately “00:38,” so that it begins right as the previous song ends with a slight overlap.

Repeat (or “loop”) your regions by hovering your mouse over the right edge of the region until a circular arrow appears, then dragging the region to the right with your mouse. To duplicate a region, click it once to highlight it, click “Edit” on the menu bar and select “Copy” from the menu bar. Then click “Paste” (also under the “Edit” menu) to create a duplicate, and drag it anywhere you want it to appear. This works well if you want to alternate between songs repetitively.

Smooth out the segues between each region. If you abruptly jump from one song to another, the mash-up will not sound very appealing. To smooth out the transitions, fade out of the first song while fading into the second. On the left column of each track, click the down arrow to access your volume grid, which features a line (representing your volume) along the center of the timeline. Drag the line from the center of the grid to the bottom to fade out (song A), and drag the line from the bottom of the grid to the center to fade in (song B). Always drag the line at a diagonal angle so that your fades sound gradual and natural.

Save your project. Click “File” on the menu bar and select “Save.” To export your project as an audio file, such as an MP3, click “Share” on the menu bar and select “Send Song to iTunes.” Your new audio will load in your iTunes library.