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GarageBand - What It Is And How It Works

written by: BMeredith•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 8/9/2009

This is the first in a series of article on what and how to use the GarageBand software on your Mac. This article is all about the basics of understanding how to work with GarageBand. It is a step by step demo discussion that will help you learn the basic functions and navigation of GarageBand.

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    Garage Band - The Basics

    Garage Band: A Hands On Discussion of the Basics

    Feeling creative? Want to find a software program that lets you be as more creative then you dreamed possible? If you answered yes to either of these then GarageBand is a Mac software program for you. The great thing about this software is you do not even have to know how to read music. GarageBand is a music authoring and video enhanced program that allows you to create everything from home movies with your own soundtrack, to educational and informational Podcasts. From simple to complex, this software is one of the more practical applications that comes standard on your Mac. It is one of the main reasons that musicians and multimedia professionals prefer the Mac and its interchangeable music and video software. So let’s get started.

    For the purpose of this article we are going to look at some GarageBand basics so that we can familiarize ourselves with this software. This will be done is a step by step process.

    Step 1 - When you open up GarageBand an introductory window appears. On the left menu you will be asked what you want to do (I.e. New Project, Learn To Play, Lessons Store, iPhone Ringtones, Recent Projects). We will discuss these at another time for this article you should click New Project which should be lit up by default. At this point to the right you will have several choices (8 to be exact). For now click on Piano then click Choose in the lower right hand corner. You will then be asked to name your project. This is important so that you can find it later in your GarageBand files. Hint: If you want to make it easier save it to your desktop to be put in a folder later. For now in the Save As just put DEMO then click Save at the bottom right hand corner.

    Step 2 - You now have a divided screen with the Grand Piano Track Bar in the upper left corner. You should see a bar under the word Grand Piano with a red button for record, a megaphone which is a mute or un-mute button, a gold button which is for solo voice, a padlock so you can set your track info, and a final button which is to set volume. You also have a balance control with the letters L and r and a place where your play back levels will be shown to you. Seems like a lot in such a small place. Most of these effects are for you when you are creating your own sound with the instrument specified. For now we will leave these alone but it is information you will need.

    Step 3 - Directly to the right is a grey box. This is where we will be placing the tracks we are importing. So where do we find these tracks or loops? At the far right is a list of various loops which we can use. As you can see we can actually compose a song using these loops. For this demo lets lets click piano which is about half way down in the second column. When you do this you will see directly underneath examples of several types of loops. Go ahead and choose one now. Click on it to hear what it sounds like. I have chosen Southern Rock Piano 04.

    Step 4 – Now that you have chosen your piano loop, click on the green note and drag it up next to the Grand Piano icon. It should drop right in on the grey field. Next , go back and click on the All Drums link. Again you will see a list of loops. Find one that is to your liking and then click and drag it just below the other loop. In order to match I have chosen Southern Rock Drums 01.

    Step 5 – Now return to the instrument menu and choose guitar. The key here is to choose a loop that is the same key and length (4,8 or 16). Choose one and drag it just below the drum track. For this I choose Southern Rock Guitar 01.

    I have now created a simple 8 measure loop which I can use a variety of ways. If I want I can continue to create a song by assign loops to what I have created and I can add up to 16 instruments on this example. All you have to do now is go to the menu bar at the top, go to File and save. In the article that follow we will discuss editing and other mechanisms within our GarageBand software.

GarageBand - What It Is and How to Use It

This is a series of articles on what and how to use the GarageBand software on your Mac. Learn all about the basics of understanding how to work with GarageBand in these step-by-step tutorials that will help you learn the basic functions and navigation of GarageBand.
  1. GarageBand - What It Is And How It Works
  2. GarageBand - Editing and Formatting





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