6.4. Enhance Timing, Enhance Tuning

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As you've surely figured out by now, the two kinds of music that GarageBand processes ”MIDI data and digital audio ”have very different characteristics. The beauty of MIDI data is that you can edit the recorded notes as though they're typed text in a word processor. Type in new notes, delete others, shift their timing, fix wrong notes. None of this is possible with digital recordings, which are simply frozen snapshots of a live performance.


What's mind-blowing about GarageBand 2, though, is that it flagrantly breaks these time-honored rules. Apple has somehow figured out how to fix out-of-tune notes and "off" rhythms even in a digital recording. You just drag a slider to control how much pitch or timing correction you want applied to the recording ”a feature that generations of audiences at certain amateur concerts would have given their eye teeth for.

That's not to say that editing digital-audio recordings is every bit as flexible as editing MIDI recordings. Here are some of the limitations:

  • You still can't grab a note and drag it, willy-nilly, to a different pitch; all GarageBand can do is round off notes to the closest pitch or beat.

  • The Enhance Tuning feature can apply its magic only to recordings of single-note (monophonic) performances like a singer , a flute, or a trumpet . It doesn't work on polyphonic ones (piano, guitar chords, harp).

  • You must apply the Enhance Tuning/Enhance Timing features to an entire track at once. You can't wave the magic wand over only a single region (although you can, of course, chop out the problem section and put it on its own track).

  • Applying too much Enhance Tuning/Enhance Timing mojo can produce pretty weird results. Use the sliders judiciously.

Even so, it's amazing that you can even fix any timings or tunings at all. Here's how it works (see Figure 6-7).

6.4.1. Enhance Tuning

Ready to fix a tin ear?

  1. Double-click inside the Real Instrument track that contains the out-of-tune notes .

    The Track Editor opens at the bottom of the GarageBand window.

  2. Drag the Enhance Tuning slider to the right (Figure 6-7) .

    For best results, do this while you're playing back (or even cycling) the problem passage, so you can monitor the effect. Once you cross a certain threshold, the audio may start to sound a little weird. Your goal is to fix the off-pitch notes without making the whole thing sound processed .

    This effect is non-destructive, by the way; any time later, you can return the slider to its zero point (or any other point), pulling back if you've gone too far.

Tip: GarageBand tries to nudge each note into alignment with one of the 12 steps of the chromatic scale ”that is, to the closest black or white piano key. If you turn on the "Limit to key" checkbox below the slider, though, the effect is even more pronounced. Now you're shoving each note to one of the seven pitches of the song's key (say, G major).Incidentally, do you remember the weird, electronic, can't-take-your-ears-off-it note-sliding effect that made Cher's 1999 "Believe" such a hit? That's what you get when you sing a song with a fair amount of deliberate sliding between notes, then turn on the "Limit to key" checkbox, and drag the slider all the way to the right.

6.4.2. Enhance Timing

Whereas Enhance Tuning is ideal for performances that had a great feel but a few out-of-tune notes, Enhance Timing cleans up performances that were note-perfect but, here and there, rhythmically sloppy . The steps are similar:

  1. Double-click a region in the Real Instrument track that has the off-key notes .

    The Track Editor opens at the bottom of the GarageBand window.

  2. Drag the Enhance Timing slider a little bit to the right (Figure 6-7) .

    Here again, you can do this while the music is playing back, although there may be a delay before you hear the results.

    Once again, excessive amounts of Enhance Timing can make the music sound mechanical or inhuman and lose the feel, which may or may not be the effect you're going for.

  3. Use the pop-up menu below the slider to specify how much GarageBand should round off the music: to the nearest eighth note, sixteenth note, or whatever .

    You're adjusting the underlying rhythm grid. Larger note values (like 1/4 note) may distort the melody pretty badly ”and even Cher never had a hit with that effect.

Figure 6-7. Apart from the positions of the sliders, you have no visual indication that you've applied GarageBand's tuning or rhythm-fixing features ”but you hear it, all right.

6.4.3. Transposing a Real Instrument Region

As noted earlier, GarageBand 2 possesses the remarkable ability to transpose a digital-audio recording higher or lower ”something that should not, by conventional wisdom, be possible. Just drag the Region Pitch slider shown in Figure 6-7, or type an interval (the number of half-steps) into the text box. Section 5.4 offers more detail.

Note again, however, that transposing too far from the original pitch can introduce some pretty freaky changes to the sound. Transposing live recordings, therefore, is something best done in moderation .

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GarageBand2. The Missing Manual
GarageBand2. The Missing Manual
ISBN: 596100353
Year: 2005
Pages: 153

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