Combining Loops to Vary Your Songs

Keeping the music simple is often the key to building a successful track of background music. But you can use a number of simple strategies to make your music slightly less repetitive. One is to combine loops from within one family of instruments.


Start from the song we've been building. Click the Loop button in the shuttle controls to turn off that feature, as it won't be necessary for the time being.


Delete the Grand Piano track on top by selecting the track on the left and then choosing Track > Delete Track.


Delete the Drum Kit track alsothe whole track, not just the loop of music placed there.

You're going to continue reshaping your song until it feels appropriate for the time-lapse video.

It's also good to know that in the process of sculpting a song, you may create many tracks, add more to them, and either mute or totally delete parts as you go. In this case, ignore the Bass and Piano tracks and explore some different sounds.


Mute the Electric Bass and Piano tracks.


Click Reset in the Loop Browser and find the guitar loop called Southern Rock Guitar 01.


Listen to all the tracks in the Southern Rock Guitar family (01 through 05), noticing the similarities and differences.

Some of the loops lend themselves to long stretches of video, and some sound more like emotional transitions.


Click and drag Southern Rock Guitar 02 to the track under the Piano track.

This has a nice sound to it. The loop comprises four measures, whichaccording to the counteris 8 seconds long. This is pretty long by loop standards. It means the sounds in it repeat only every 8 seconds, which is good for a loop that will play over and over a few times without getting too repetitive.


Drag the guitar loop out for 12 measures (to the number 13).

That's about as much as Jennifer can take before she wants to hear something else. Change your scale using the Zoom slider on the left to see more of the ruler. (Thirty measures is about 1 minutethe length of the time-lapse video this song will be for, so make sure you can see at least that far.)


Click and drag Southern Rock Guitar 01 to the same Acoustic Guitar track, following the first loop.

It is also a pretty long loop, and it sounds similar enough to Southern Rock Guitar 02 that they form a nice duoan almost imperceptible variation, but enough difference to eliminate some of that repetitive feeling.


Drag the Southern Rock Guitar 01 loop out by one more full loopanother four measuresand play some (or all) of the resulting music.

Making the Music Match the Video

As you're playing the music that you've got so far, watch the time counter. Somewhere in the middle of the added area, the counter says you're at 37 seconds. According to your notes, that's where the video cuts from the wider shot to the closer shot, and you want a transition in the music here. The transition could be a different instrument, maybe a new track, or just a musical interlude of some kind.


Park the playhead on the measure closest to 37 seconds.

GarageBand snaps the playhead to the measure boundaries; the closest is at 36 seconds.

There is a nice musical transition in the Southern Rock Guitar family, loop 05.


Click and drag Southern Rock Guitar 05 to the Acoustic Guitar track, and drop it over the end of loop 01, aligned with the playhead.

Play the track. The transition works, but loop 05 is short; it feels like you need more of it to be satisfying.


Drag loop 05 out by another full repetition, to the measure 23 line.


Click and drag loop 01 onto the track to follow loop 05.

This should bring the sound back to a familiar verse. After playing one loop, the song's overall duration is only 52 seconds; the song needs to be longer to fit with the video.


Drag loop 01 out until the song is 1 minute long30 measures.

You could end it here, but it would sound better to make it slightly longer and fade out the music after the video ends. Editing the song is best done here, from within GarageBand. The actual musical fade-out could be done (earlier in this lesson, you learned about the Track Volume check box), but it is sometimes better to do that fine-tuning with the video while in iMovie after the song is imported.


Either way, drag out loop 01 a couple of beats further, a couple of seconds more than 1 minute.

Adding Texture to the Song

This is a nice, simple track of acoustic guitar that, even without drums and bass, seems to feel light and dynamic enough for the video. To give the guitar just a touch of texture, a small amount of percussion would probably help. A drum is too much, but let's try a shaker.


Reset the Loop Browser. Select Shaker and find Shaker 16.

Nothing fancy, just a little salt for the stew.


Click and drag the Shaker loop to the track underneath the Acoustic Guitar track.

This starts the shaker immediately at the beginning of the song. Sometimes it helps to break up the repetition of a long track by staggering the introduction of other instruments.


Slide the Shaker loop to begin after the Guitar loop completes its first cycle.

Look for the notch in the Guitar loop if you want to see the unit of the actual music loop before repeating.


Drag out the Shaker 16 loop all the way to the end of the Guitar loops.


Play the tracks.

The shaker is a little loud; it needs to fall into the background more.


Reduce the volume of the Shaker track using the slider in the Mixer until the sound is audible but not noisy.


Songs tend to have familiar structuressometimes as simple as verses and chorus. Verses have one kind of sound, and the chorus has a different but compatible sound. If you call the verses A and the chorus B, a song's structure is often something like A-B-A-B or A-A-B-A.

    Apple Training Series(c) iLife 05
    Apple Training Series: iLife 05
    ISBN: 032133020X
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2005
    Pages: 141
    Authors: Michael Rubin © 2008-2017.
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