Split GarageBand project into separate tracks

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A reader who wishes to go by the name OldMacster needs some advice on an audio recording. He/she writes:

I recently recorded our church choir singing many songs using GarageBand. Trouble is, because I recorded all the songs at one time, GarageBand treats it as one very long song. How do I separate each song that the choir sang so that the CD that I burn has each song on a separate track, like a commercial CD I find in the store?

Thank you, OldMacster, for providing me with the opportunity to gripe about one of GarageBand’s weaknesses—the inability to insert markers in a track and then export separate tracks based on those markers. But you can’t. And so, oh well.

Although you could split the tracks in GarageBand, then cut and paste the split portions into separate tracks, and then export each track separately, it’s a bother. I’d consider, instead, saving the GarageBand track as a single AIFF track and then opening that single track in a different application that handles this kind of thing with greater aplomb. To do that, choose Share -> Export Song to Disk. In the sheet that appears, make sure that the Compress option is not enabled. Now save the track to your Desktop.

To proceed on the cheap (meaning, free) download a copy of the open-source Audacity audio editor. Launch Audacity and choose Project -> Import Audio (Command-I). Navigate to the track you saved from GarageBand and click Open. The track will open in Audacity’s timeline.

Now click the Selection tool in the top-left corner of the Audacity window (represented by the I-beam icon) and click at the very beginning of the track. Choose Project -> Add Label at Selection (Command-B) to create a label (properly called a marker) at that point. Move to where the next break between tracks occurs and, with the Selection tool still active, click at this point. Add another label. Continue doing this until you’ve marked all the breaks.

Now choose File -> Export Multiple. In the Export Multiple window that appears, make sure that the Split Files Based on Labels option is enabled. Choose a location for saving your files, and click the Export button. If asked for an audio format, choose WAV, as this creates audio files at their original fidelity. Audacity will now split your long track into separate songs based on where you placed the labels.

You can now take those tracks and drag them into iTunes. Create a playlist from those tracks, select that playlist, insert a recordable CD, and click the Burn Disc button to burn a CD of that material.

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At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Lessons are well presented and move quickly toward learning songs
    • Interface reorganization makes it easier to locate features
    • Magic GarageBand supports recording
    • Guitar amps and stomp boxes are intuitively presented and sound good
    • Multiple views in lessons


    • No improvement in notation printing from last version
    • Can’t have more than one GarageBand project open at a time
    • No MIDI control of stomp boxes
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