I'm trying to use GarageBand to create some short notification sounds to use in software I'm writing. Unfortunately my musical skills are non existent and I'm struggling to create anything that sounds good. I'm attempting to create some short sounds with only a few notes. For example if you are an iPhone user you can go to Settings > Sounds & Haptics > Choose something like AirDrop or Text Tone and play some of the sounds under the Alert Tones section. These are the type of thing I'm trying to create.

If you take Apple's 'Note' alert tone as an example. It's just a "ping" sound which fades out over time. I've seen tutorials about using automation to fade the audio out over a time period, but I can't create a ping sound to begin with. Or under the Classic alert tones there's one called Ding. This is very similar to the Ping but with a different sound. I wouldn't mind trying to create something which sounds similar to that but maybe with a low note followed by a high note.

Everything I try to create just sounds like two notes on the selected instrument, I don't know how to adjust/tweak the sounds to make them sound how I want. I know with an electric guitar a synthesiser can be used to adjust how it sounds, which in my mind is kind of what I'm trying to do here. I've tried searching for tutorials but everything I find for GarageBand is just showing how to create music tracks (which after all, is what it's for). Is somebody please able to explain how I can do this in GarageBand (if it's possible), or tell me if there is any other free software which would allow me to do this and allow me to distribute the audio files I create with my open source application? (I can use a Mac or Windows)

I hope this makes sense. I don't know the correct terminology to explain this any better.

  • What you need is a sound designer Daniel. Or learn synthesis and sound design, but this isn't something you learn in a day. And then you need to learn how a DAW works. Aug 10, 2020 at 13:53
  • 2
    Basically you've found what you're looking for; tutorials on "How to make music tracks in Garage Band"… you're just making a really, really short track. Everything else would appear to be "How do I get from here to there in a really short time?". You don't. Music production & sound design take the same 10,000 hours of apprenticeship as plumbing, carpentry etc, etc…
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 10, 2020 at 15:20

1 Answer 1


It sounds like you just need some bespoke/custom sounds to help with your software project. Like valiumdupeuple said, you need a sound designer or to spend time learning at least some of the basics. If you want natural/acoustic sounds you could use a sampler. If you want digital sounds you could go with a synth.

With most synths and samplers there is usually an ADSR section. Without getting technical, this basically helps control the punch and length of the sound. By playing around with these you could probably get in the right ball park in terms of how long the note plays for. In terms of the tone of the sound...well, that's where experience comes into play.

If you just want to get your project done with some unique sounds I would recommend maybe checking out "one shots" on splice.com https://splice.com/sounds/search?q=one%20shots&sound_type=sample&tag=synth or some other sample website.

You can simply download and import your samples into garageband then export the arranged project to a single audio file in a format that will work for your application.

If you really want to learn about sound design and synthesis then youtube is your friend for free resources. Here's a video on ADSR which is part of a bigger "introduction to synthesis" video guide.

With all projects though, I understand there are deadlines, so personally, I think it's probably easier to find some sample packs online and use those and then dive into audio production and sound design in your spare time.

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