GarageBand 10.1.0 can Transpose a Song Imported from iTunes

by David Saunders on October 23, 2015

This is now my 4th post on transposing a song imported from iTunes. This is for version 10.1.0 of GarageBand, which came with OS X 10.11 El Capitan.

See my third post if you’re using GarageBand 10.0.3 to transpose a song imported from iTunes.

My previous post was written in January 2014. If you have an earlier version of GarageBand, that post should help you.

If you have Garageband 10.1.0 or later, follow these steps:

1) Open GarageBand 10.1.0. Select “Empty Project” and press “Choose”

Garage Band Transpose - new song

2) Next, select “Software Instrument” and click “Create”

Garage Band Transpose - new song create

3) GarageBand creates a Piano track for you. This is okay, you don’t really need the track, but you get it anyway.

GarageBand Transpose - new track

4) Open iTunes and drag the song you want in import under the piano track that was created for you.

GarageBand Transpose - Drag Song

5) Your track appears under the Piano track.

GarageBand Transpose - Song from iTunes 6) Open GarageBand > Preferences… 

GarageBand Transpose - Preferences...



7) Select Audio/MIDI. Click on “Audio Units” to enable this effect. This step enables the plug-in that we will be using.

GarageBand Transpose - Select Audio Units


8) When prompted, “Keep” existing effects, if you wish. (You might not be prompted to do anything, but in case you do, you can just keep them).

9) In the upper-left of the window, Look for the “Smart Controls” button, which looks like a knob.

GarageBand Transpose - Smart Controls

10) Click the “Knob” to select “Smart Controls”

GarageBand Transpose - Smart Controls Knob

11) Look for the “i” and “Master” buttons.

GarageBand Transpose - "i" and Master buttons

12) Click the “i” and “Master” buttons.

GarageBand Transpose - buttons clicked

13) Hover above the top processor (which is “Channel EQ” as shown above). Click and hold the blue line that becomes visible:

GarageBand Transpose - blue line

14) Next Select “Pitch > Pitch Shifter”


Pitch Shifter

15) First: Move the Mix slider all the way to the right to 100%. Second: adjust the Semitones to your new key. This will move up or down in musical half-steps.

Pitch Shifter adjustment window


16) Double-check that you have the Mix slider all the way to the RIGHT!

If this helped you, please share!

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

AnnBailey November 29, 2015 at 11:59 pm

THANK YOU!!! this was exactly what I needed…Worked like a charm!

Mikaela December 14, 2015 at 3:33 am

Hi, I have a huge problem with Garageband 10.1.0. I have a screen shot of the problem and would like to know if you can show me how to cut something. They are two tracks. Both are highlighted as a loupe but dont need to be a loupe. Id like to slice each end and keep only a section in the middle. I tried doing it on another project and all the tracks where deleted and dont want to screw it up again. Can you help? I have a screen shot of the project. Please? Pretty please?

Tom January 2, 2016 at 7:56 am

Finally! Someone who writes directions I can follow!
Thank You! Just what I was looking for!

David Saunders January 3, 2016 at 1:48 pm

You’re welcome. Glad you were able to make it work!

Memo January 15, 2016 at 11:12 pm

This is awesome! But one last question: if I mixed different tracks together, how can I change the pitch (key)? I can’t seem to do it if they’re mixed (after doing apple + J) on my mac.


Sherry January 19, 2016 at 6:10 pm

Ditto to all the rest on here…very easy to follow the directions!! I am a musical comic who plays guitar, but I am using a track for a sketch and needed to change the key for a political song spoof for a show. This was great! Have used GarageBand for mixing for years, but have never been able to do much else. Many thanks to you!

David Saunders January 19, 2016 at 8:25 pm

Thanks for commenting. Have fun!

esther February 24, 2016 at 1:47 pm

this was amazing-only thing so far that helped. thanks!

Hope March 1, 2016 at 6:35 pm

THANK YOU! Finally an easy way to change the pitch with clear directions. Thank you!

allen enlow March 10, 2016 at 6:13 pm

Thanks mucho. Had a karaoke song that was too high for me to sing.

Carl March 28, 2016 at 6:54 am

Thank you!

Phil Pallette March 30, 2016 at 2:52 pm

Hi, David,

I don’t want to move the pitch a full semitone. The classical piece is a piano accompaniment ptiched at about A 438, and I want to move it up to A 442. This cannot be done with GarageBand, can it?

Phil P.

David Saunders March 30, 2016 at 4:16 pm


Yes it can! You change the pitch by exactly the number of cents you desire.

In step 14 above, instead of choosing the Pitch > Pitch Shifter, choose Audio Units > Apple > AUPitch.

Hint: Instead of using the knob, double-click on the cents value and type in a number. It looks like you want to move the pitch up 4 cents. Just type in 4 once you have double-clicked on the cents value.

For reference, I outlined this method here in a previous post.

Hope that helps!


Phil Pallette March 30, 2016 at 10:07 pm

Yes, David. This worked. But how do I get the GarageBand file back into iTunes, so that it plays in iTunes?

IsabelAimee April 5, 2016 at 6:23 am

Dear David- great directions, thank you.
My system seems to want to transpose several tracks at one and not the single one I wish it to. Have you found a way around this?

Ivy April 7, 2016 at 12:02 pm

this is just what i needed! just a question though: it sounds a little grainy and a tad bit morphed (if that makes sense), how would i get rid of that??

David Saunders April 7, 2016 at 10:34 pm


That is unfortunately normal if you go too far from the original key.


David Saunders April 7, 2016 at 10:38 pm

I have not tried to transpose a song with multiple tracks already laid down. Possibly you could transpose the one track, export it as a song, then import that song into the project with multiple tracks.

Let me know if that works.


Curtis Wayne April 26, 2016 at 10:55 pm

Excellent tutorial! Thanks for updating this with each version of Garage Band. Really saved my bacon in trying to transpose a musical number for my oldest daughter for a Broadway audition! Many, many thanks!

David Saunders April 27, 2016 at 12:11 pm

That’s great! I wish your daughter well in her audition. I’m really glad that GarageBand gives musicians tools to create (and modify!) music. Keep on!

Richard April 28, 2016 at 11:29 am

Man…thank you for this. I’ve watched a dozen videos, bought iPhone apps, and your blog got me going in 5 minutes.

David Saunders April 28, 2016 at 5:46 pm

I’m always glad when someone is helped by the tutorial! Glad you solved it so quickly.

Blake Seitz May 3, 2016 at 11:30 am

Thanks so much for this! It really helped me. It also sounds better than the Amazing Slow Downer which was going to cost 50 bucks to upgrade.

David Saunders May 3, 2016 at 12:03 pm

Glad it helped!

polly June 8, 2016 at 1:56 am

Hi David, I am cutting and pasting a few tracks together for a fun high school production, on 10.03 and it gives a distinct static sound across the track, quite noticeable, gives the listener the feeling like fingernails on a chalk board, especially when the volume is turned up. Ive tried your great method described above, not sure if this is whats needed to get rid of it, but otherwise, have you a solution?

Can you also quickly describe what is the purpose of “showing Master Track”, does it have any bearing on the volume?

Im a novice at this, but loving it….. give me more……

David Saunders June 8, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Turning on the master track applies changes to all tracks as opposed to just a single track.

Kellie Lewis August 16, 2016 at 12:50 pm

Amazing directions- thank you!!! Very well scripted out and easy to follow. Legend.

My track is sounding desperate though, it sounds choppy and rough. Any ideas of how to get a cleaner pitch shift?

David Saunders August 16, 2016 at 1:32 pm

Thanks for your comments. How many steps (or semitones) away from the original key are you attempting to transpose? If you move too far, there isn’t much that GarageBand can do to keep it clean sounding.

Marilyn August 28, 2016 at 10:54 am

That is exactly what I needed! It’s a shame that the product changes so much from one release to another that you have to redo your videos or that users have to learn it all over again each time.

opera_lover February 12, 2017 at 12:11 pm

This was wonderful! But I have a there any way to change the pitch of only one section of a track? I just need to transpose my ending. Help please!

Alex Weatherhill February 12, 2017 at 2:30 pm

Thank you. Wonderfully concise and constructed instructions. Even a technotard like me followed them!

David Saunders February 13, 2017 at 1:17 pm

Dear opera_lover,
Import the song twice, into two different tracks. Transpose the second track. Then:

  • Let the first one play for as long as you need, then silence that track (bring the volume to zero).
  • Silence the second track from the beginning until you get to the transposed section.
  • Bring the second track’s volume up at that point.

Does that make sense?

David Saunders February 13, 2017 at 1:17 pm

You’re probably better than you’re letting on. Glad it helped!

Ranjodh Shergill February 14, 2017 at 2:30 pm

When i change the pitch of a song, it has this weird stuttering effect the whole way through. How can I fix this?

Ranjodh Shergill February 14, 2017 at 2:34 pm

I only changed the pitch 3 semitones up

David Wood March 28, 2017 at 12:46 pm

Thank you soooo much! Having watches endless videos (it seems) this is finally the one which clearly sets out the steps required. Blessings.

David Saunders March 29, 2017 at 12:27 pm

David Wood,
Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you were able to make it work for you.

Glenn April 14, 2017 at 11:40 pm

Thanks – this is excellent. I’ve finally been able to make sense of doing what I imagined would be a really basic action using surprisingly convoluted controls.

David Saunders April 15, 2017 at 8:26 am

Glenn, thanks for your comment.

Alan June 13, 2017 at 2:30 am

THANK YOU!!! FINALLY!…..Someone explained this with ease and sense! THANK YOU THANK YOU!

David Saunders June 13, 2017 at 12:00 pm

You’re welcome! Glad it made sense to you.

Dara August 22, 2017 at 4:15 pm

Thank you!!! It even helped me with the current version of GBand.

David Saunders August 22, 2017 at 8:36 pm

Dara, thanks for the comment. Glad it works! David

jssjs September 20, 2017 at 1:26 am

This is so super helpful! Thank you

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