Pitch Shifting In Garageband

In response to a question on the FAWM forum here’s how to pitch shift audio files in Garageband

First select the track you want to work on

Click on cmd E to open the editor window at the bottom of the screen

Then click on the actual piece of audio you want to transpose (this will turn the audio from light purple to dark purple and the pitch slider from faint grey to bold)

Now move the slider by the amount of SEMITONES you want to transpose by (eg up a 5th would be +7, down an octave is -12)

The process will take a few seconds to take effect.

Some cautions. This doesn’t always work. I can’t figure out why.

You can (I think) select multiple files on a single track and transpose them all at once. BUT if you have comped them together as a single audio file (turning the file from purple to orange) it won’t work.

Hope that’s helpful.

Quotes Recording Songwriting

Tom Waits On … Catching Songs

Just ’cause you’re not fishin’ doesn’t mean there aren’t fish out there. You can go out there when you want, when you’re ready to do it . . . We’ve got a piano called a Fisher. And that’s what we use to catch the big ones.

Tom Waits: Innocent When You Dream: Tom Waits: The Collected Interviews (p.229)

You know, songs are out there all the time. Some of them only live two weeks. They’re like houseflies. So if you don’t get them, that’s it. I got all these old songs. So it’s good to have new songs to sing. And the new ones, you send them out there and you say, “Go my beauties, go! Bring Dad home some money! Come back with money!” Ahhh, that’s not really how I feel about it.

Tom Waits: Innocent When You Dream: Tom Waits: The Collected Interviews (p. 270)

[If a song] really wants to be written down, it’ll stick in my head. If it wasn’t interesting enough for me to remember it, well, it can just move along and go get in someone else’s song. Some songs don’t want to be recorded. You can’t wrestle with them or you’ll only scare them off more. Trying to capture them is trying to trap birds.

Some songs come easy like digging potatoes out of the ground or like gum found under an old table.

Some songs are only good to cut up as bait and use to catch other songs.

Tom Waits: Innocent When You Dream: Tom Waits: The Collected Interviews (p. 346-7)

With music, it’s difficult to talk about the writing of it. It’s all made out of smoke. When you really think about it, it’s invisible. And you’re afraid it’s not going to come and sit next to you anymore.

Waits On Waits: Interviews And Encounters (p.159-60)

Sometimes I’ll listen to my own stuff, and I think, God, the original idea for this was so much better than the mutation that we arrived at. What I’m trying to do now is get what comes and keep it alive. It’s like carrying water in your hands. I want to keep it all, and sometimes by the time you get to the studio you have nothing.

Waits On Waits: Interviews And Encounters (p.205)

My theory is the best songs have never really been recorded. We’re listening to things that made it through but there’s so many songs that have never made it because they were scared of the machine and wouldn’t allow themselves to be recorded. The trick is to get it in there, don’t hurt the song when you record it.

Waits On Waits: Interviews And Encounters (p.224)

I don’t know, music is a living thing, and so it can be . . . you can hurt it, you can bruise it . . . songs are strange, they’re very simple, they come quickly. If you don’t take them, they’ll move on. They’ll go to somebody else. Someone else will write it down. Don’t worry about it.

Waits On Waits: Interviews And Encounters (p.234)

I got tired of carrying all those folks around in my head without paying rent, so I said, go out there and make Dad some money.

Waits On Waits: Interviews And Encounters (p.310)

A lot of people say, “You really captured something on that.” There’s something alive in a song and the trick to recording them is to capture something and have it be taken alive. So there’s always a trick in the studio.

Waits On Waits: Interviews And Encounters (p.337)

Some of what goes into song-building is almost a medical Frankenstein process. What does it need? It’s very beautiful but it has no heart, or it has nothing but heart and it needs a rib cage, or whatever. I’m usually good at the medical questions about music. Eventually I’ll probably just be a medical consultant in music. I’ll be called in to look at sick songs and I’ll either say, ‘Put the sheet over it,’ or, ‘Operate.’ I’ll have a little bag with my saw. Some- times you have to break the leg and then reset it. I’m good at that. But it’s painful. But if you didn’t call me in early and you need me now, you gotta be willing to go through some discomfort. I like breaking songs, breaking their backs. I like songs with scars on them—when I listen to them I just see all the scars.

Waits On Waits: Interviews And Encounters (p.220)

Everybody loves music, but it’s important that music likes you

Tom Waits: Innocent When You Dream: Tom Waits: The Collected Interviews (p.217)

More Tom Waits wisdom here

(you can find a lot of the interviews online at

Production Recording Songwriting

Rick Rubin on Songoverwriting and Underproduction

Rick Rubin gave a brilliant interview to Andrew Romano’s in the The Daily Beast. Here’s some excerpts on songwriting and producing

I’d say [to Kanye] “This song is not so good. Should I start messing with it?” And he’d say, “Yes, but instead of adding stuff, try taking stuff away.”

There’s a tremendous power in using the least amount of information to get a point across.

For me the Beatles are proof of the existence of God. It’s so good and so far beyond everyone else that it’s not them.

My job [as a producer] is to be a professional version of the outside world—a listener who is not attached to any of it, who doesn’t know the story of how it was written, who doesn’t know how it works, who doesn’t know why this is important to you.

I never decide if an idea is good or bad until I try it. So much of what gets in the way of things being good is thinking that we know.

There’s a cycle that’s dictated by the reality of being a touring artist [when you only have eight weeks between tours to make a record]. At some point in time the cycle takes over, and even though you’re not really ready to make the record during that window, it’s the only window you have, so you put it out. Cracks in the foundation start. And slowly, over time, the creative process gets eroded, and [making a record] becomes something that’s just a window in the schedule instead of the most important thing that drives the whole train.

I always request that artists overwrite. Write as much as possible—and then we can narrow down—because you never really know. The best song you write might be No. 25, not No. 12. For every System of a Down record, we’ve recorded probably 30 songs to get the 12 or 14 that are on the record. The same with Chili Peppers. It was a little bit of a struggle with Black Sabbath…We probably recorded 16. And there are eight on the album. It made sense to me [to work that way] because in the past they were on a roll from album to album, and now they haven’t been a band together in 35 years. The idea that after 35 years the first 10 songs you write are perfect is unrealistic.

How did you discover Public Enemy, another one of the greatest rap groups ever?

D.M.C. played me a tape of Chuck D hosting a radio show. The show was called “Public Enemy Number One.” So I called him, and he said that he had already done the rap thing. Now he had a regular job. He wasn’t interested. He felt like he was too old. He was probably 20. Chuck thought he’d missed his chance. He worked at a record store. I called him every day for six months, probably. He would leave a message with whoever was there, like, “Tell Rick I’m not here.” And then eventually I got a message: Chuck wants to meet. And he comes in, and he’s like, “I’m willing to do it under these terms: it’s called Public Enemy. It’s a group. It’s more like the Clash than a rap group, and it’s me and Flavor Flav, and Griff and Hank are involved.” And I said, “Whatever you want to do is fine.”

Read the full interview here

Check out my Black Sabbath/ Beastie Boys mashup here

Best Posts Let's Build An Airport EP Recording Songwriting Writing Songs With

Steve Jobs And The Rewind Button

I got the biography of Apple founder Steve Jobs for Christmas. I was hoping for some insight on how to be a creative thinker but it’s actually a pretty depressing read and there is little in the way that Jobs is portrayed that I’d want to emulate.

But in one passage Steve talked about the moment in the development of every great Apple product where they realised something was wrong and felt the temptation to just ignore the alarm bells and plough on regardless. But in each instance they ‘hit the rewind button’, missing deadlines and delaying launches to fix it, and in doing so lifted the product to the next level.

I’ve hit 3 such points that I can identify during the recording of the Let’s Build An Airport EP. First, after getting the mix I realised Brother Bull dragged towards the end. I felt tempted to say “never mind, it’s just the weakest song on the record” but I realised that cutting a verse and chorus (something I’d been fighting ever since I wrote the song) made it move along at a much more satisfying clip. I did a mock up of the edit in Garageband and then Mark my producer did it for real. I lost some cool xylophone and steel drum moments but gained a tighter final track.

Next a cello part wasn’t working. Tuning wise, tonally and it lacked expression. Rerecording the part helped, but not enough. I’d run out of ideas and we ran off mixes with and without the part. But then Mark started copying over snippets of violin and viola from other parts of the song and layering them. The section of the song is really striking now thanks to string parts that I never would have composed.

Finally one little cluster of pitchy notes at the end of the record, almost inaudible when mixed is now sadly very noticeable now the track are mastered. To fix them means going back a step and remixing that portion of the song, then adding it into the mastered track and remastering. But I’m hopeful, like the previous examples that the whole track will end up noticeably stronger.

Download my free single Let’s Build An Airport