Hey, I really love working with Garageband on the iPad. I think it’s a revolution. It’s so intuitive, unintimidating, and most importantly fun! Of course, it still has a way to go to be a “professional” production device, but I feel that is coming in years to come, and as you can hear this production sounds pretty good! And this was done on an iPad1 along with merely singing into that little pinhole mic. Other than that all the instruments were just “smart” instruments played entirely on the iPad. Hope you enjoy. This song is called “Kuzbass” by Josh Rouse that I covered.
Well, I’ll continue to add to this post as I go along. I use Garageband everyday. Of course now that I’ve started, this will quantumly move me on to Logic I’m sure, but maybe the same tips in Garageband will apply in Logic as well. Also, I’m sure I’ll never completely leave Garageband. It’s too much fun! Anyway if you have some tips you’d like to share too, put them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list. Or if you have questions leave a comment, and I’ll try to find the answer.
- Copying a region – You can always select the region then in the Menu select Edit>Copy>Paste, but there’s an easier way: Select the region with your mouse pointer, hold down the option button and simply drag the region with your mouse.
- Deleting a track – Select the track (mouse over the track and left click the mouse. You’ll know it’s selected when the region on the very left that contains the tracks controls, which is normally gray, turns a color, either blue or green, depending on whether its a real or software instrument track. Once the track is selected, hit Command + delete, and it will delete the whole track.
- Mastering – Well, this isn’t a tip about mastering per se. I know close to little about the subject, and desperately want to learn more. But if you haven’t already noticed after cutting what you think is a good sounding song, the export feature with Garageband is atrocious. It’s so bad I don’t see how the product can ship with it. If you check the “Auto Normalize” feature in preferences the tune will sound fine but the volume is way too low, which I find ironic because it touts itself as a feature that gives you “full” loudness. If you don’t check that feature you’ll get the volume you want, the volume you hear when you play the song in Garageband, but the exported MP3 will sound annoyingly fuzzy. Both unusable. Why can’t I have an MP3 that sounds like what I’m hearing when I play the tune in Garageband itself? Well you can only it’ll cost you $60. There’s a program called “Wire Tap” for Mac which records accurately any sounds coming from your Mac’s sound card. You fire up Wire Tap hit record and then press play on Garageband, and it will capture the tune exactly as you are hearing it. $60 sounds too high for this feature and it is, although Wire Tap is a solid program from a solid company and it’s useful in other situations as well. Having not moved up to Logic or Logic Express, I’m wondering what their exporting features are like. Anyone know?
- Recording – Hit the “R” key to start recording and the Space bar to stop recording. A little easier than using your mouse to click the record button and the stop button, especially when you have a guitar in your lap.
- Relieving an Overtaxed CPU – I’ve noticed especially when I have a lot of tracks, the play head will stop in the middle of a song or my Midi Controller is not being as responsive as it should. I learned today that you should “lock” all the software instrument tracks in this case. This temporarily turns the software tracks into sound tracks which relieves the CPU usage. The Lock feature is that little padlock icon underneath the name of the track. You simply click it. Then later you can un click it to restore it to a “green” software track.
- Splitting a Region: Again this can be accomplished with Edit>Split once the track is selected and the play head is in the right spot where you want it split. But I also find it easier to simply hit Command + T
- Vocal Recording – Well this tip may only apply to me but the general principle may apply to more. I bought a condenser mic from Guitar Center 5 years ago for about $200.00. It’s a good looking solid device: Audio-Technica AT-3035. I used it for years with a stand alone BOSS-1600 DAW. Seemed to work fine. In Garageband, although overall the sound was great, I got a lot of hiss and popping especially on my “S,” “Ch,” and “T” sounds. I scratched my head for I do have a screen in front of it. Well yesterday I Googled it. Turns out it has a couple of switches on it that reduce that very thing. Tried it out last night and a new World opened up. I could get a clear, loud sound without all that nasty popping. 5 years later I learn this! So if you run into some kind of problem like this, check your mic’s documentation for all the settings, or if you’ve lost them Google it. By the way this AT-3035 has glowing reviews from all the places I surfed. Everyone of them said its the best diaphragm mic for the money hands down. I think you can get one for only $100 now. So if you’re in the market for a vocal mic, you might check it out.
- Synthopia.com – “Garageband Tips & Tricks” by Jeff Tolbert – Nice page of tips. I especially like the last one which deals with editing the drum loops that Garageband comes with to add some fills and variation to make them sound less monotonous and more spontaneous. Learned what the word “paradiddle” means: 4 16th note snare hits in succession. I knew the sound. Didn’t know there was a word for it. I can hear it in my head during a song when I want a “paradiddle” and he shows you how to make one.
Josh Rouse – “Summertime” Lyrics
Here comes the summertime, the feeling’s in the air.
I remember cigarettes, tube socks, sun burns and long blond hair.
Here comes the summertime, yeah it’s coming soon.
I remember living upstairs, drinking iced-tea and swimming pools.
And the feeling doesn’t last that long.
Before you know it, it’s up and gone, oh yeah.
The things we do…
In the summertime, yeah it’s coming soon.
I remember watermelon, finger banging, purple rain and being cool.
Here comes the summertime, the feeling’s in the air.
I remember drive-ins, soap operas, fireworks and county fairs.
And the feeling doesn’t last that long.
Before you know it, it’s up and gone, oh yeah.
The things we do…
In the summertime.(x4)
(end with scatting)
Yet another cover of Josh Rouse’s 2006 album “Subtitulo.” I guess I could call myself “1972” and become a Josh Rouse tribute band! Hahahahahah. No really, it is one of my favorite albums, and he’s one of my favorite artists, but really I was just in the mood for making covers lately, mostly just to practice Garageband. Oh just got a new Presonus Firestudio Mobile so I can record directly into Garageband. So I’m so happy, and it’s much more fun producing now. The only thing I’m dissappointed in is that I just realized that Garageband doesn’t support sample rates over 44.1k, and I was hoping to work with 96k. I guess I’ll have to move up to Logic, although at least it does support 24-bit depth rate, so that’s better than my 16 bit Boss BR-1600. The FireStudio also came with recording software that’s suppossed to be good and does support the full 96k, so I guess I’ll make my next song on it, but I do love the ease and fun of Garageband so much.
The only thing is that I still can’t get the recording levels right. It’s like when I’m laying down the track, it doesn’t sound loud enough, so I crank it to what sounds good, but then when it comes down to the final thing, there’s always some clipping during various parts, which makes the “Normalize” feature of Garageband render the tune way to low, or if you un check that, the tune is just blurry and overall unlistenable. Drives me crazy!!!!
I found one solution in the program called Wire Tap Studio, a Mac program that tries to accurately record exactly what is playing through the Mac Audio Engine, which makes it sound a little better. At least listenable. What’s weird is that within the program when you are playing all the tracks, everything sounds pretty good, especially through the high quality headphones, but when you go to export it, I guess it comes through the compression, everything comes out the other end sounding crappy.
Wire Tap helps because it tries to accurately record what’s coming out of the Garageband sound engine, but you can still here a lot of clipping and distortion in at different points in the track. I’m going to have to really focus on my analog tracks, recording them maybe even a lot lower than what initially seems right. I don’t know. What’s so weird is that the professional loops, even the the wave ones, will barely have any level, but they will sound crystal clear, and plenty loud enough.
I want to be able to record those kinds of tracks!
This is a cover I just made of a Josh Rouse song called “Quiet Town” which is the first cut off his 2005 album “Subtitulo.”
For some reason I’m in cover mode, or mostly just practice mode with recording and working in Garageband. I really have to get an interface for the computer. I can’t stand working with this BOSS BR-1600 anymore. The screen is tiny. But I do like going into the closet to record with the condensor mic. Feels like I’m going into the “studio.” Feels like I’m doing some work. It’s relaxing.
- Click the “+” at the top of the App Window just below the “Mixer” heading to create an “Arrange Region”
- I think it defaults to 4 bars, but you can take your cursor and make the arrange region any size you want
- Click the region to highlight it in blue and then hit your delete key.
This does a Delete + Move function so the area you want to get rid of dissappears and moves the entire rest of the song, including each track’s “meta” data, neatly together. Moving the meta data is important if you’ve created customized volume or panning sliders for individual tracks. Just moving the tracks themselves by dragging them doesn’t do this.
This can be done anywhere in a song, but it occurred to me that usually when I make a recording I’ll have one or two bars at the opening of the song thats filled with silence or noise from getting ready to cut the take. And then when I’m done, I may have eight or nine tracks that need to be moved, along with their data to the actual beginning of the timeline or else when I exported it, the export would take that silence/noise with it. I needed a way to move all the tracks simultaneously, which is a terrible pain to do individually especially if, as is usually the case, many of the tracks aren’t “joined” and even then, there’s the problem of the meta data. I guess I wouldn’t have this problem if I did a count in, but even then, I think a count in is only one bar, and I usually need two before I’m ready to record.
Hope this helps. Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments.
Update 4/30/10 – I just realized when I made “Quiet Town” today and needed to do the same thing that that little “+” below where it says “Mixer” at the top may not show up depending on your settings. If that’s the case you need to go to Track>>Show Arrange Track and click that, and then it will show up.
Update 4/9/11 – What I’m doing now for my Garageband projects is using a program for Mac called Wiretap Studio. What this program does is record into a .wav file (that you can easily convert to .mp3) directly from the Mac Core Audio itself. You end up getting better results because when you export via Garageband usually one of two things happen. If you’ve selected “normalize” things sound fine, but usually the volume is way to low. And if you don’t select “normalize” you get the loudness, but at the expense of quality. A lot of clipping. Wiretap gives you the loudness of a contemporary CD, but with the clarity of how it actually sounds in Garageband itself. Also with this solution, I don’t have to worry about moving the tracks to the beginning of the garageband interface. I simply move the playhead to where I want to start the recording. Then I click record on Wiretap. Then I start the playhead. The few extra seconds in the Wiretap file can be cropped to give you better control over the beginnings and endings of songs.
So I’ve been in the Mac World for over a year now, but I’ve just now entered the Garageband World or recording and the whole idea of recording on a computer. I know what you’re saying, “Welcome to the ’90s!” I know. I know, but you see as much as I’m interested in technology, I also have this reverse energy working. I call them “mental blocks.” In the early ’90s I got a 4 track cassette recorder. I think it was $500. Couldn’t make it work. I don’t know why. I just couldn’t. Then I bought some multi track software from the local music store. Looked fancy. Only $50. Couldn’t make it work either. I just couldn’t get decent sound into the damn thing. I don’t know what it was. A PC, the drivers, the technology? I don’t know. Just a lot of buzzing.
Finally in 2001 I got a stand alone “DAW” one of those little BOSS BR things, and FINALLY, something I could simply plug in and play, and though its woefully small GUI (I wouldn’t even call it a GUI) would make the normal musician drive to the local bridge and jump off, I could actually record multi track sound that sounded clear, and a drum machine to boot! I was hooked. My creativity jumped. Then in 2005 I bumped up to the BR-1600, spending $1200 and thought I was in heaven. Even better Pre Amps, better sound, and the ability to program real arrangements, bass lines and customized drumming. I thought I had my studio. So I’ve been working with it ever since, thinking I had it all. All I needed at least.
Finally though, especially with this gorgeous 20″ iMac screen, I just couldn’t live with the little 1×5″ GUI. I never wanted to do editing because it was just too painful. So I was stressed with every take because I felt I had to get it perfect. I did, because I wasn’t willing to cut and paste or even punch in and out very often. Pain moves folks to action.
So finally I entered the Garageband world a few weeks ago, cutting my first song on it, “The Darkest Hour Comes,” just recently. Loooooove it. The colors, seeing all the tracks. The loops. Dragging and dropping edits allows one so much freedom, that one can relax and get into the groove.
So, since I don’t have an interface yet, I’m recording guitars and vocals into the BR and importing the .WAV files into Garageband. (Of course that little pain will have me down to the Guitar Center getting a Presonus Firebox very soon!)
But in the meantime I’m working on a new tune. Now with the freedom of Garageband (And computer based recording in general) I discovered I can just record away over and over again, not worrying about mistakes, because I know that I can cut and paste the best parts on the desktop and arrange the song with relative ease.
So finally here comes my tip. I’ve been working on the guitar track today, cutting and pasting away, and I’ve noticed one thing: Even though I’m working with a click track, you’re almost never exactly on the beat, especially at that crucial juncture of the first beat. You’re either a millisecond ahead or behind it. That’s one of the things that makes it sound natural. But if you cut and paste a section that comes in ahead of the beat you’re going to cut out an important part and also hear a little clip. If you cut and paste those sections a little behind the beat, then everything sounds seamless.
When you’re recording, you can’t consciously decide to be in front or behind the beat, but knowing that you have the freedom to make mistakes does allow you to relax and get into the groove. So if you just keep the tape rolling and make multiple passes (I recorded 6 minutes of passes for a 4 minute song last night) you’re going to have enough material where you have as many backbeats as frontbeats, so you’ll be good.
Then, when you’re editing look for those sections that have a backbeat to cut and paste with. It’ll make your life a lot easier. And a lot more fun. And when you record enough passes, every once in a while you’ll even be right on the beat. Those moments are rare (unless your a good musician) but they feel like Luke finally getting those laser torpedos into that right whole of the Death Star.
The “Death Star” of your anti creative complex explodes and you up your anti to a new level. Oh, shit. I feel Pro-Tools and Logic on the horizon coming forward.
Comments, Questions, or Suggestions? Love to hear your thoughts.