Recording and Saving a Real Instrument Part

Before you start recording, there are some recording techniques to consider. Should you record the entire song in one take, or break the instrument part into smaller pieces? I think the answer depends on the musician. If there is a song you have played so many times you don't even have to think to play it, feel free to record it in one long and perfect take. Some musicians record multiple takes of a whole song, then edit together the best parts from each take into a master track that becomes the final song. If playing the entire song flawlessly is unlikely, it is very easy to record smaller sections, then put them all together in the Timeline. Most songs in the world of music recording are recorded in smaller pieces, then arranged together to form the final master track. You can also record punch-ins to replace a specific part of a song if necessary.

Let's start with the basicsrecording a short musical part, also known as a riff.


The following recording exercise uses a guitar as an example. However, you are welcome to record whatever instrument you have available.

Setting Up Your Instrument

Take a moment to set up your guitar, keyboard, bass, microphone, or whatever instrument you want to use for the recording exercise. If you don't have an instrument, and your computer has a built-in microphone, you can record finger snaps, or you can whistle. If you don't have an instrument or a microphone, read through the following steps anyway to get a sense of how recording a Real Instrument works.

If you do have an instrument, play a riff on it now. Do you hear a delay between when you play and when you hear the sound? Depending on the audio hardware and computer you are using, there may be a slight delay when playing and recording Real Instruments. The short amount of time the Real Instrument input takes to reach the computer's input port and be processed is referred to as latency. You may not be able to eliminate latency completely, but you can reduce the amount of latency in the GarageBand Preferences. Let's take a look at the Preferences setting to reduce latency.


Choose GarageBand > Preferences.


Click the Audio/MIDI button to open the Audio/MIDI pane.


Locate the "Optimize for" section. Select the "Minimum delay when playing instruments live" option if you are experiencing latency delays when you play your instrument.

Selecting "Minimum delay when playing instruments live" will reduce latency by using more of the computer's processing power to process the audio input signal faster. However, this option can affect performance on slower computers. If you don't have latency issues and plan to record multiple tracks simultaneously, change the setting to "Maximum number of simultaneous tracks."


Click the General button to return to the General Preferences pane. Locate the metronome controls and select the "During playback and recording" option, if it's not already selected.


Press Cmd-W to close Preferences.

Recording a Short Take

Since the track you are about to record has no effects applied to it, the sound of whatever instrument you record will not be altered. You will learn to add effects to the tracks later.


On the upper No Effects track, click the Mute button to mute the track.


Select the empty No Effects track and make sure the Record Enable button for the track is on.


Press the spacebar to start the metronome and playback of the empty track in the Timeline. If you do not hear the metronome, press Cmd-U to turn it on.


You can only hear the metronome if the playhead is movingthat is, only while you are playing a song in the Timeline or while you are recording. If you turn on the Count In feature (Control > Count In), GarageBand will count in the first measure (four clicks) before the play-head moves and recording begins.


Play a simple musical riff. Practice a few times until you're ready to record. Press Return to move the playhead to the beginning of the Timeline.


The keyboard shortcut to start recording is the R key. This is often easier than using the mouse to click the Record buttonespecially if you're holding a guitar or another instrument.


Choose Control > Count In to turn on the Count In feature.

GarageBand will count in the first four beats before recording begins.


Press R, or click the Record button, to record your musical riff.


Press the spacebar to stop recording when you're finished.


Press Cmd-S to save your project.

That's it! You've recorded an instrument part into GarageBand.

Project Tasks

Now that you've successfully recorded one part, why not try another? Create a new track in the same project and record another part to go along with the first piece you recorded. Don't forget to mute the other tracks before you record if you're not playing along with them. Listen to the finished recording and save your progress when you are finished.

Recording a Long Take

There is nothing wrong with recording the entire songor even a long part of the song, such as the first halfin one take. If you can play it, by all means record it.

This method is also fantastic for recording song ideas. If you have a melody, lyrics, or instrumental parts floating around in your head, I strongly encourage you to sit down right away and record it. Who cares if it's a rough draft and full of mistakes? The important thing is to document it so you won't forget the subtle creative nuances of the idea while it's fresh. The human brain isn't the most reliable storage medium. Instead of carrying 50 songs around in your head, trying to remember all of them, commit them to your computer instead. You can always delete them or finish them later.

Another thing to remember about recording one long take is that you can always punch in and record over, or rerecord any mistakes you make along the way.

Apple Training Series GarageBand 3
Apple Training Series: GarageBand 3
ISBN: 0321421655
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 134
Authors: Mary Plummer
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