Understanding Tracks

Understanding Tracks

Think of the tracks in your Timeline as the different musicians in your band. Each musician plays a different instrument and is represented by a separate track. As the leader of your band, you can decide which instruments are used in a song and how you want to record them. If you don't like an instrument part, you can always fire the musicianor in this case, just delete the track. If you really like the way a part sounds, you can clone the musician, or just double that track in the Timeline.

The best way to understand tracks is to work with them, so let's get started.

Preparing the Project

Open project 2-1 Alaska Sunrise from the Lesson_02 folder. This is the same project you were working on in the previous lesson. You may continue working with 1-1 Alaska Sunrise if you prefer.

Showing and Hiding the Track Info Pane

At the end of Lesson 1 you dragged the Movies for GarageBand folder to the Media Browser, then added the Alaska movie to the Video Track in your project. Now that you know how to add a video file and play it in the Video Preview pane, you're probably wondering how to close it when you don't need it. The Video Preview pane is directly above the Track Info pane (labeled Episode Info when a video track is selected). Anytime the Track Info pane is showing, you'll also see the video preview of your project.

The Track Info pane shows information for any selected track. There are three primary ways you can show or hide the Track Info pane:

  • Choose Track > Show Info (or Track > Hide Info if it is already showing).

  • Click the Track Info button.

  • Press Cmd-I.

Before we hide the Track Info pane, let's select a music track to see its details.


Select the Video Track, if it is not already selected. If the Track Info pane is not showing on the right side of the window, press Cmd-I.


Select the Grand Piano track to show the track info for that track.

The Track Info pane shows that you have selected a track that is a Software Instrument track, Pianos and Keyboards instrument category, Grand Piano instrument.

The lower-left corner of the Track Info pane also shows the track's icon, which in this case is a Grand Piano.


Select one of the Dry Horn Section tracks.

The Track Info pane now shows that you've selected a Real Instrument track, Band Instruments category, Dry Horn Section as the instrument. Even the track's icon illustrates that the track includes horns.


The Real Instrument Track Info pane also includes recording information for the track, including Input, Volume, and Monitor. You'll work more with Real Instrument recording in Lesson 6.


Press Cmd-I, or click the Track Info button, to hide the Track Info pane.


To maximize the workspace in the Timeline, close the Track Info pane when you don't need it. You can always open it when needed to see the Video Preview or change a track's icon or instrument.

Selecting Prerecorded Loops and Sound Effects

Remember the Forest sound effect loop you auditioned in the last lesson? Well, it's time to add it to the project 2-1 Alaska Sunrise. First, you'll need to find it again in the Loop Browser and make room for it at the beginning of the song.


Click the Loop Browser button, or press Cmd-L, to open the Loop Browser.


If the Loop Browser displays a view other than Podcast Sounds, click the Podcast Sounds View button to list the Podcast Sounds.


The Loop Browser opens in the last view you used. In the previous lesson, you used the Podcast Sounds view, so it should open that way.


Select Sound Effects > Ambience > Forest to hear the Forest sound effect loop.

In the last lesson, you auditioned (listened to) the Forest sound effect with the project. Now that we are ready to add the loop to the project, let's audition it one more time to be sure.


Press Return or Z to move the playhead to the beginning of the Timeline.


Press the spacebar to begin playback of the project.


Click the Forest sound effect to play it along with the project.

The birds seem a bit loud, but you can always turn down the sound effect once you add it to the Timeline. You can also use the Preview Volume slider to turn down the volume of the loops as you listen to them in the Loop Browser.


Drag the Preview Volume slider toward the left to lower the preview volume of the Forest sound effect.


Press the spacebar to pause playback when the song ends.


You won't be able to see the Video Preview/Track Info pane and the Loop Browser at the same time. So if you want to audition a loop, you'll need to do so without looking at the video preview. However, once you've added a loop to the project, you can play it and watch the video at the same time.

The sound effect is cheerful, and it definitely adds a natural and relaxing feel to this New Age instrumental song. Trouble is, the music starts at the very beginning of the project, and it would be better if the project started with the forest sounds to set the mood, then had the music join in. No problem, you'll just move the existing song over a measure or two.