When you think of entry-level digital audio workstations, the first one to pop up is most likely Garageband.
This article will discuss beginner steps and tips for making your first hits on this DAW.
You will need the DAW, an audio interface, studio monitors, and a microphone for recording music. A midi controller is also recommended.
When you open Garageband, you will go to the “create a project” section. Garageband offers presets for different genres and instruments. However, you can also choose the “empty” if you will still decide on what instruments you want in your song along the way.
At the bottom of the “create a project” window, there are other settings that you will need to attend to.
One is choosing what key your song will be in. This is important, especially if you will use pitch correction. The other one is the bpm selector. You will need to figure out the bpm of your project so that you can be on time when recording.
Once you set up everything and come up with a song name, the project will open up.
For now, you will need to understand the layout of Garageband.
At the very top is the control bar. This is where transport controls such as play, stop, and record are placed.
The library, quick help, smart control, and editor buttons can be found on the left side of the control bar. On the right side are the notepad and loop browser buttons.
The next important region in Garageband is the track area. This is where all of the recording and arranging take place. All the audio and midi you will record will appear as tracks for you to arrange and edit.
The library is where you can access the different sounds, samples, and patches for your song.
Garageband offers many samples for you to incorporate and work with.
The editor button will open up the editor page, which will appear at the bottom of the layout. This is where you can edit the tracks like midi and drummer.
The editor page will depend on what track you have selected.
Smart controls are where you edit how each track sounds as well as other qualities like its frequency.
Quick help is present should you need a bit more information regarding a certain feature in Garageband.
Working on the Project
The first thing to do is to add tracks. On the top part of the track area is a plus button.
Click it to add a track to your project. You will be given four choices on what kind of track you want. Two of them are audio tracks, and the other two are midi.
The two audio tracks are microphone and guitar amp. These tracks are for recording audio sounds like vocals and electric guitars. Garageband has a dedicated track for guitars and bass, along with different amps to choose from.
The two midi tracks are software instruments and drummer. The first one is for recording software instruments like the built-in keyboard and synths.
For those who need drums but can’t program them on their own, the drummer track has got you covered.
Once you choose the type of track you want, the track will appear in the track area, ready for recording.
To record, press the record button then start playing or singing.
Connect your microphone to your audio interface, then connect the interface to your computer. Check the settings to see if the input and output audio is connected to the interface.
The same goes for connecting your guitar or bass.
Connect the midi controller to your computer and see if the connection registers to Garageband.
But what if I don’t have a midi controller? Luckily, you can still record midi tracks with your laptop or computer keyboard.
Open up musical typing and a small window will pop up. Now you can use your keyboard to play midi notes and record midi tracks.
Using the Drummer Track
A recent addition to Garageband the past few years is the drummer track.
This would be extremely useful if you are struggling to program drums on your own, or need to make a guiding track to get inspiration before programming it yourself. If that’s the case, then this feature’s got you covered.
You can choose different genres, drummers, and even different playing styles. It also adjusts to the song’s tempo, so there’s no need to worry about the track being offbeat.
Saving Your Project
Once you are finished or wish to work on your project another time, always remember to save your project.
Go to the file button and click “save,” or save as if it is your first time. Voilà, your project is saved and ready to be revisited.
Here are some tips you can try out to help in your next recording session.
There is a default color that separates audio from midi, but that might not be enough to distinguish specific tracks.
Color coding tracks is a good way of helping you identify which track is which. Plus, it will make your track area look colorful.
To assign a color, click “track” then select track>assign color. You will see a color palette appear where you can choose the color you want for that track.
One thing that wasn’t touched upon but is a great asset is the cycle area. This means that you can loop a certain part of the song.
This is good for either practicing a part before recording or recording without having to hit the stop button.
Like typing, Garageband also offers some shortcuts like cut, copy, and paste.
Learning some keyboard shortcuts will definitely help make your workflow run smoothly.
These are some basic steps and tips that you can follow for your next session in Garageband.
The cool thing about Garageband is that, despite its beginner-friendly setup, it doesn’t make it any less in terms of quality.
With the right tricks and techniques, you can even make a radio-hit single with this DAW.