Garageband for Dummies

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2020-06-30
  • Publisher: For Dummies

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Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?


Lay down some tracks—no garage required!

GarageBand has become the default musical sketchpad for both well-known artists and hobbyists musicians who want a simple way to record, edit, and share their own tunes. GarageBand For Dummies is your go-to guide to navigating the interface and making the tweaks to create your own songs. 

Look inside to discover how to lay down a beat with the virtual drum kits, layer on sweet sounds with built-in virtual instruments, and attach simple hardware to record vocals or live instruments on a Mac, iPad, or even an iPhone. 

  • Use built-in instruments to create a song
  • Attach your guitar or mic to record live sounds
  • Export your final product or individual tracks
  • Add effects and edit your song

GarageBand is the simplest way to create basic tracks without investing in costly hardware and learning a complex digital audio workstation software package—and this book shows you how.

Author Biography

Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus has been the technology columnist for the Houston Chronicle for more than two decades and a columnist for the Mac Observer for almost as long. A prolific writer, he is the author or coauthor of nearly 90 books, including multiple editions of macOS For Dummies and iPad For Dummies. Bob also has worked as a commercial music producer.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

About This Book 1

Not-So-Foolish Assumptions 2

Conventions Used in This Book 2

Icons Used in This Book 3

Beyond the Book 4

Where to Go from Here 4

Part 1: Starting on a Good Note 5

Chapter 1: Introducing GarageBand for Macs and iDevices 7

What is GarageBand? 8

What Can You Do with GarageBand? 9

What Can’t You Do with GarageBand? 9

Checking Your System Requirements 10

The official requirements for Macs 10

The official requirements for iDevices 12

What Else Do You Need to Run GarageBand? 12

Recording with GarageBand: A Few Teasers 15

Sneak peek 1: The recording sequence 15

Sneak peek 2: GarageBand for Mac 18

Sneak peek 3: GarageBand for iDevices 20

Chapter 2: Equipping and Setting Up Your Recording Space 25

Cobbling Together a Studio Without Breaking the Bank 26

Making the Most of Your Recording Space 27

Deadening the room 27

Preventing background noise 28

Equipping Your Studio: Must-Have Gear versus Good-to-Have Gear 28

Choosing a Microphone 29

Dynamic and condenser microphones 31

Microphone polarity patterns 32

Microphone preamps 33

Setting up your microphone 34

Finding the Right Speakers 34

Listening with Headphones Without Messing Up the Take 36

Adding a MIDI Keyboard to Your Setup 37

Finding a keyboard 37

Connecting a MIDI keyboard to your computer 39

Unraveling the Cable and Connector Conundrum 39

Adding an Audio Interface to Your Setup 42

Using an audio interface with GarageBand 43

Shopping for an interface 43

Perfecting Your Mic Setup 45

Choosing a mic stand 45

Recording vocals with pop filters and wind screens 47

Boosting Your Hard Drive Space 47

Recording in Tune with a Tuning Device (for Guitarists) 48

Chapter 3: Introducing Multitrack Recording with GarageBand 49

Understanding the Role of Stereo in Multitrack Recording 50

Strolling through the Recording Process, Quickly 52

Cutting the Tracks (“No Blood on ’em, Mr Dylan”) 53

Recording tracks on a Mac 54

Recording tracks on an iDevice 57

Listening to tracks during recording and playback 59

Changing a track’s settings 62

Changing a track’s instrument 64

Checking levels during recording and playback 64

Adjusting levels 65

Polishing tracks 67

Mix That Sucka 69

Overview of mixing 69

Setting the pan 70

(Lord and) Mastering 71

Managing Song Files 73

Part 2: Making Music on a Mac 77

Chapter 4: Getting Started 79

General Pane 80

Software Instrument Recordings section 80

Enable the Force Touch Trackpad check box 82

Reset Warnings button 82

Audio/MIDI Pane 82

Devices section 82

Effects section 84

MIDI section 84

Metronome Pane 84

Loops Pane 86

Keyboard Browsing setting 86

Keyboard Layout setting 87

Loop Browser setting 88

My Info Pane 88

Advanced Pane 89

Audio Recording Resolution setting 89

Auto Normalize setting 90

Movie Thumbnail Resolution setting 90

Chapter 5: Using Loops to Make Music 91

What is a Loop, Anyway? 91

Where to find more loops 92

Spicing up your songs with loops 93

Finding the Right Loop with the Loop Browser 94

Viewing loops in button or column view 94

Seeing more instruments 96

Searching for a loop you love 97

Filtering by loop type 101

Previewing loops 101

Keeping your favorite loops at the ready 102

Adding third-party loops to the loop browser 102

Setting a Loop’s Tempo 103

Adding Loops to Tracks 104

Dragging and dropping loops 105

Undoing and redoing a loop 106

Extending, shortening, and repeating loops 107

Editing loops: A preview 108

Reusing an edited loop in a different song 109

Chapter 6: Recording with MIDI and Software Instruments 111

What is MIDI, Anyway? 112

Controlling Software Instruments with a MIDI Keyboard 112

Choosing Software Instruments 114

Recording Tracks with Software Instruments 117

Altering the Sound of Software Instruments 119

Delving deeper into Smart controls 120

Adding and changing plug-in effects 125

Compressors and other plug-in effects 129

Drummer Tracks 134

Testing Your Changes 136

Chapter 7: Recording Vocals and Acoustic Instruments with a Mic 137

Getting Ready to Record 138

Setting up your mic and recording track 138

Tweaking the pan to hear vocals better 142

Positioning the microphone 142

Setting levels 143

Adding effects 145

Checking for unwanted noise 146

Multitrack Recording 149

Dave Hamilton on multitrack drum recording 149

Recording with a MIDI drum 151

Recording the Track 152

Improving the Sound of Recordings 153

Chapter 8: Recording Electric Guitars and Other Electronic Instruments 157

Overview from the Top: Direct or Live Recording 158

Direct Recording with GarageBand’s Virtual Amplifiers 159

Setting up to record 159

Troubleshooting your setup 161

Making a too soft instrument louder 162

Setting levels 163

Recording the track 164

Recording Live with an Amplifier and Microphones 165

Customizing the Sound of Your Guitar Tracks 168

Changing presets and amp simulators 168

Editing presets 169

Making other changes 170

Part 3: Postproduction: Finishing Songs on a Mac 173

Chapter 9: Editing and Polishing Tracks 175

“When Should I Edit Tracks?” 176

Editing Software Instrument versus Real Instrument Tracks 176

Fixing Flubs and Faux Pas 178

Punching in and out to replace part of a track 178

Just undo it and then redo it 181

Splitting and joining regions 182

Silencing mistakes with the track volume control 184

Rearranging Regions 185

The arrangement track and markers 185

Editing Software Instrument Tracks 188

Changing the tempo of a song 188

Changing the tempo of song parts 188

Changing the pitch 189

Rearranging notes in a region 190

Sweetening: Add New Material? Or Not? 195

Percussion 196

Backing vocals 196

Special effects 198

Horns, woodwinds, and strings 198

Chapter 10: Mixing Tracks into Songs 199

What is Mixing? 199

Creating a Level Playing Field 200

Roughing it with a rough mix 201

A fine tune 202

Level meters: Red = dead 203

Panning Tracks Left or Right 204

The Effects of Adding Effects 206

Equalization or not? 207

Echo and reverb 209

Compressor 209

Chorus 210

Doubling Tracks 210

The copy-and-paste method 210

The re-recording method 211

Chapter 11: Mastering Mastering 213

What, Exactly, is Mastering? 214

Before You Master 214

The Master Track is for Mastering Tracks 215

Applying presets and effects to the master track 216

Tweaking effects 217

Setting the master volume 221

One More Thing Before You Call It “Done” 222

Part 4: Making Music with Your iDevice 225

Chapter 12: Getting Started 227

Global Settings 228

Allowing GarageBand access 228

Determining knob response 229

Reducing crosstalk 229

GarageBand Settings 229

Metronome and count-in 230

Tempo, time, and key 232

The Control Bar 236

Sharing Projects with a Mac (and Vice Versa) 239

Chapter 13: Making Music with Live Loops 241

Loop Basics 242

Find more loops 242

More about loops 243

Grokking the loop grid 243

Working with Loops 245

Adding Apple loops to cells 245

Finding a loop you love 246

Listening to loops 247

Keeping your favorite loops at the ready 248

Types of loops 249

Working with Cells 249

Editing cells 249

Undoing and redoing a loop 252

Moving cells 252

Recording into a cell 253

Adding remix FX 253

Recording with the Loop Grid 254

Chapter 14: Laying Down Software Instrument Tracks 257

What is MIDI, Anyway? 257

Controlling Software Instruments with a MIDI Keyboard 259

Working with Software Instruments 261

Creating a new software instrument track 262

Selecting a different instrument 263

Recording a software instrument track 264

Working with Tracks 265

Displaying track headers 265

Adding loops 266

Working with regions 267

Chapter 15: Recording Vocals and Acoustic Instruments with a Mic 273

Getting Ready to Record 275

Preparing to record 275

Positioning the microphone 279

Setting levels 280

Adding effects 281

Tweaking the pan to hear vocals better 283

Checking for unwanted noise 284

Multitrack Recording 284

Dave Hamilton on multitrack drum recording 285

Recording with a MIDI drum controller 287

Recording the Track 288

Improving the Sound of Recordings 289

Chapter 16: Recording Guitars and Basses without Mics or Amps 291

Overview from the Top: Direct or Live Recording 292

Direct Recording with GarageBand’s Virtual Amplifiers 293

Setting up to record 293

Troubleshooting your setup 296

Making a too soft instrument louder 296

Setting levels 298

Recording the track 299

Recording Live with an Amplifier and Microphones 300

Customizing the Sound of Your Guitar Tracks 302

Changing presets and amp simulators 303

Changing and modifying stomp box effects 303

Editing presets 304

Making other changes 306

Part 5: Postproduction: Finishing Songs on an iDevice 307

Chapter 17: Editing and Polishing Tracks 309

“When Should I Edit Tracks?” 310

Editing Software Instrument versus Real Instrument Tracks 310

Arranging and Rearranging 312

Song sections 312

Fixing Flubs and Faux Pas 313

Punching in and out to replace part of a track 314

Just undo it and then redo it 316

Splitting and joining regions 317

Silencing mistakes with automation curves 318

Editing Software Instrument Tracks 319

Changing the tempo of a song 320

Changing the pitch 320

Rearranging notes in a region 322

Changing a note’s velocity 324

To quantize or not 325

Sweetening: Add New Material or Not? 326

Chapter 18: Mixing Tracks into Songs 327

What is Mixing? 327

Creating a Level Playing Field 328

Roughing it with a rough mix 329

A fine tune 330

Level meters: Red = dead 331

Panning Tracks Left or Right 331

The Effects of Adding Effects 333

Equalization or not? 335

Compressor 337

Echo and reverb 338

Chorus 338

Doubling Tracks 339

The copy-and-paste method 339

The re-recording method 340

Chapter 19: Mastering Mastering 341

Before You Master 342

Exporting to a Mac for Mastering 343

Sharing Songs 343

Part 6: Everything Else You Might Need to Know 347

Chapter 20: Playing Live with GarageBand Amps and Effects 349

Playing at Home 350

General Tips for Guitarists and Bassists 351

Create a practice file 351

Get to know your amps, pedals, and other plug-ins 352

Expand your palette with third-party plug-ins 352

Playing on Stage 353

Chapter 21: Jamming with Others over Wi-Fi 357

Becoming the Bandleader 358

Becoming a Member 360

Working with Jam Sessions 361

Chapter 22: File Compression and Your Music 365

Understanding Compression 366

About uncompressed audio files 366

About compressed audio files 367

Sharing Your Masterpiece 369

Sharing your songs from a Mac 369

Sharing your songs from an iDevice 372

How Much Compression Can You Stand? 372

Distributing Your Music 374

Finding the song file on your Mac 374

Sending AAC or MP3 files via Mail or Messages 374

Chapter 23: CD Recording, Reproduction, and Distribution 377

The Benefits of Burning CDs 378

Getting Ready to Burn Songs on CDs 378

Gathering what you need to burn CDs 378

Setting the cycle area 379

Burning Songs to CDs 380

Burning a song to a CD with GarageBand 381

Burning songs to a CD with the Music app or iTunes 382

Making multiple copies of the same CD 385

Lovely labels for your CDs 386

Distributing Your Music 387

CD Baby and TuneCore 387

More distribution ideas 387

Part 7: The Part of Tens 389

Chapter 24: Ten Ways to Improve GarageBand’s Performance 391

Starting with the Basics 392

Checking on FileVault 393

Paying Attention to CPU and RAM Usage 394

Checking Out Activity Monitor’s CPU and Memory Tabs 395

Recording: 16-bits versus 24-bits 397

Minimizing the GarageBand Window While Playing or Recording 398

Getting More RAM 398

Getting Faster Storage 399

Resetting MIDI Drivers 400

Turn Off Wi-Fi Before Recording or Performing 400

Chapter 25: Ten Ways to Take Your Recordings to the Next Level 401

Getting a Better Microphone 401

Making Sure Your Speakers Reproduce Sound Decently 402

Getting Better Headphones 403

Fine-Tuning Mic Placement 404

Improving Room Acoustics 404

Using Quality Cables 405

Adding an Audio Interface (and, Optionally, a Mixing Board) 405

Switch to More Powerful Software 406

Logic Pro 407

Pro Tools 408

Chapter 26: Ten Useful Websites 411

Learn Songs on Guitar or Bass 411

Search for free chord charts or tablature 411

Ultimate-Guitar 412

GarageBand Karaoke (free MIDI files) 412

Mix Magazine 413

MusicRadar 414

Sweetwater Sound 414

Musician’s Friend 415

Monoprice 415

Apple GarageBand Discussion Board 416

Index 417

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