Jennifer likes taking pictures and enjoys the process of making videos (as long as it's quick). But she really doesn't have any musical aspirations or, frankly, skills. Still, as a business owner she has an obligation not to accompany videos and slide shows in her retail studio with the copyrighted music she listens to on her iPod. Charlie shouldn't eitherplaying his music in presentations he makes at school is technically improper, but since he's a kid and the use is noncommercial (and probably one-time), he can get away with it. Charlie's interest in GarageBand is far more extensive than making background musiche's a great guitar player, and he uses GarageBand to help him practice and record his professional-sounding tracks without needing to coordinate with a group when he feels like jamming. Christopher is allowed to use copyrighted music from CDs in his personal home projects, but he's attracted to GarageBand because he wants music in his videos that sounds hip but without lyricssince they might compete for the attention of the audience. Jennifer needs music, however, and she has a limited budget.
It's always an option to buy the rights to some music, or find some royalty-free tunes. (There are many sources online.) Apple provides a large online assortment of short musical riffs if you have a .Mac account. Called Freeplay music, it's on your iDisk in the software folder for .Mac members.
But even with that viable option, the Freeplay songslike virtually all prepared musichave preset lengths (10 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute) that may not meet your project's specific needs. And ultimately, they are publicly available tunes (although you cannot use them commercially), and you may want something a little more customized. For a small business, the cornerstone of a successful operation is often being unique. For Jennifer, her brand and business are all about creativity. Confronting her fears, Jennifer launches into GarageBand to make some very simple, quick background music for her in-studio presentations.
Setting Up for Your Song
Launching the application takes you to the start-up window from which you can open either a new project or an existing one.
Click the Create a New Project button.
The New Project window opens, in which you'll establish some basic parameters for the song you'll create.
Give your song a name, but leave the rest of the defaults set as they are, and then click Create.
This will open the main window for music creation. The project is saved in the GarageBand folder, which resides in the Music folder in your Home directory.
Move your pointer to the Grand Piano keyboard and click some ivories on the instrument sitting in the middle of your window.
You should hear the sounds of a grand piano. (You're making music!)
If you had an electronic keyboard with the appropriate USB connector, you could connect it and play that Grand Piano interface using your full-size keyboard. But Jennifer doesn't have a keyboard sitting around, so she's going to get rid of this onscreen diversion altogether.
If you did plug in a USB keyboard, you'd need to connect it to your Mac prior to launching GarageBand in order for it to be enabled.
Click the red button in the top-left corner of the Grand Piano interface.
The keyboard disappears, although the green Grand Piano track it was related to remains onscreen. It is okay to leave this track here, but you won't be using it. (More about tracks in a moment.)
Now that the window for music creation is mostly empty and ready to go, how to start? Since Jennifer has no intention of playing any instrument or singing into a microphone, she needs to find some music.
Click the Browse button (with the eye icon) on the bottom left of the window.
This opens the Loop Browser: the place where you'll search for, listen to, and ultimately select the appropriate instrumental loop to add to your song.
A loop is a small segment of music that can be played over and over, popping from the end back to the beginning to sound like a smooth, continuous musical track. It's short, lasting perhaps only 1 to 4 seconds, and can repeat indefinitely. A typical real-world loop might be the drumbeat in a rock songit may be basically the same rhythm, keeping time for the length of the song. One-person bands often use machines to generate repeating loops of sound to play along with. The Loop Browser provides access to hundreds of loops that come built into GarageBand.
The menu side of the Loop Browser
Although there is certainly no single wayand no wrong wayto build a musical track for your videos and slide shows, Jennifer is going to follow an easy way.
In the Loop Browser, select All Drums. Just to the left of the Volume slider, you can see that there are 281 loops that can be classified as drums. Jennifer needs one. On the far right side of the Loop Browser are all 281 search results that meet the conditions specified on the left.
This reduces the number of options to only the drum loops. The remaining categories are grayed out.
The six columns have some interesting information. The leftmost column shows an icon, either a green music note or a blue waveform. The green note indicates the loop is MIDIthat is, a computer-generated sound. A MIDI loop is not a recording so much as a mathematical instruction for playing music. It has properties that make it attractive to the beginner. Most important to know is that when you merge MIDI loops, the computer can work for you to make them sound good together.
The blue waveform represents an audio file, not unlike the files in iTunes. This is an actual recording of sound. The Mac cannot augment this sound to make it fit with other sounds the way it can with the MIDI loops. Audio files are less malleable as raw material for beginners and are a little harder to make sound good. For that reason, don't use them for this lesson. Focus on the items with green notes, the MIDI loops.
Besides the name of the loop and the icon, you can ignore the rest of the columns. But if you're curious, what you've got is the loop's tempo (a measurement of how fast a song will be played), its key (not relevant to drums, but a reference to a song's position on the musical scale), and its beats (the number of beats per measure, the unit of a song). Fav (favorites) is a convenience for you to mark loops you like so you can find them quickly later on.
When you use loops in GarageBand, the software automatically adjusts their listed values to fit together. So you don't need to limit yourself to selecting loops that have matching tempo, key, or beats.
Single-click an item and it will start to play; explore different loops in this way.
Feel free to make notes about the ones you like, or click the Fav check box to easily search for the loop later. Click a playing loop and it stops.
Scroll down through the list of drum loops to Straight Up Beat 02.
Click and drag Straight Up Beat 02 to the space under the Grand Piano track. You have now created a new track for the drum loop and added the loop to the numbered timeline on the right, starting at the 1.
If you drop it in the Tracks column, GarageBand creates a new track for the loop and places the music at the beginning of the timeline area to the right of the Tracks and Mixer columns. This region is the musical workspace.
The little dark bars and dots in the green loop represent the notes. The vertical red line at the head of this loop is GarageBand's playhead. From the numbers in the timeline ruler, you can see that this loop is two measures long.
Unlike movies and the timeline in iMovie, music is built in measures, which are counted along the ruler. A measure is a musical unit but not a fixed span of time, so it varies depending on the song. Notice the number 1 at the beginning of the timeline, rather than a 0 as you'd find if this were a time scale. The 1 denotes the beginning of the first measure. A loop that extends from the 1 to the 2 is one measure long. Similarly, a loop that extends to the 7 results in a piece of music six measures long.
Click the Play button in the shuttle controls at the bottom of the window.
The music will play, continuing forward right past the end of the loop and into silence.
Did you hear it? It was short.
Move the pointer to the edge of the green loop in the timeline.
The great thing about loops is that you can repeat (or loop) them.
When the pointer approaches the edge of the loop, it changes into one of two tools. If you point at the middle-to-lower edge of the loop, you'll see a Trim tool, which extends or shortens the loop segment itself. When the pointer moves up to the top edge of the loop, it turns into the Loop tool, which lets you grab and drag the loop forward in time, rolling out more and more loops (or parts of loops) as you go.
Use the Loop tool to click and drag the loop to extend to the end of the sixth measure (and thus to the 7 on the scale).
Now go back to the Loop Browser and click Reset (in the top-left corner of the browser).
This brings you back to the top level of the Browser so you can find your next piece of music.
A reliable method of building a bit of music is to start with the drums, add bass, and then end with something more melodic like a guitar or piano.
Instead of scrolling down the column of the 183 bass loops that GarageBand found, you can further refine your options by selecting one of the attributes on the right side of the Loop Browser.
Click Cheerful. The number of options is reduced to 58
From the resulting bass selections, look around until you find Funky Pop Bass 01. (It should be on top.) Click and drag it up to the empty track region beneath the Drum Kit track.
Drag the playhead back to the beginning of the timeline (the left side of the tracks) by clicking in the ruler portion of the timeline and then dragging left. (Alternately, you can click the Cue to Start button in the shuttle controlsthe backwards arrow against a vertical lineto pop to the beginning of your song.)
When the timeline is positioned at the start of the tracks, click the Play button (or press the spacebar on your keyboard).
The entire loop in the Electric Bass track is four measures longmeaning it repeats itself half as much as Straight Up Beat 02. This tends to make it less repetitive sounding. You can see how long the original loops are by the small indentations in the edge of the loop as it repeats in a track. In general (but certainly not always), it sounds better when you add loops in these full unitsnotch to notch.
Sounds goodpretty cool, pretty easy. Let's get one more track, one more instrument.
Go back to the Loop Browser, reset the options, and then find Piano > Classic Rock Piano 02. Drag it to the track space under the Electric Bass track. GarageBand does its best to make these disparate instruments sound good together. If the tracks are in different keys (Classic Rock Piano 02 is in the key of D; Bass is in C), GarageBand transposes one to match. If the tempos are different, GarageBand slows them down (or speeds them up) to synchronize them with the tempo you chose when you opened the project. (The default is 120 beats per minute.) But even after this clever work, many tracks will sound really lousy together. If you're not really musical, your best option is to experiment a lot and work hard to keep it simple.
In the world of background music, very simple arrangements work well. It's not a cop-out. One or two trackssometimes just a drum, other times just a clean piano with a shakeroften are all you need to enrich your videos, particularly those with dialogue. You don't want the music to compete. You want it only to enhance the texture and mood.
Making Adjustments to Loops
The three tracks in your workspace may be all you need for the background of a video. If you dragged the loops so that they all extend to the same length, you might consider yourself done. But Jennifer is not satisfied with the Classic Rock Piano 02 loop. The piano is nice, but it's too busy for her taste.
Select the Classic Rock Piano 02 loop and press Delete on your keyboard.
The piano track remains, but the loop of music is gone.
Grab the Funky Pop Bass 01 loop from its position in the Electric Bass track and drag it down to the Piano track. Now play it. Notice that? The notes that the bass was playing are now being played by a piano. This is because the loop is a MIDI loop. It means that you can instruct the Mac to play it as if it were any instrument, depending on the track you place it in.
If you want to hear something truly odd, drag the drum loop down into the bass track. That percussive music is quite unusual when "played" by an electric bass. Drag it back to its starting point when you're donetoo avant-garde for the ceramic studio.
Instead of dragging the Funky Pop Bass 01 loop back to its rightful spot, Option-click and drag it back. Doubling up makes the notes a little richer and is a great effect to apply when you're looking to add some musical sophistication with little risk of it sounding bad.
This will copy the loop, leaving one in the Piano track and placing a duplicate in the Electric Bass track. Now you have the same music, the same notes being played simultaneously by different instruments.
Drag the loop in the piano track to delay it by two beats (in this case, half a measure).
This offsets it from the Bass track playing the same tuneanother interesting musical touch that works for short periods without becoming grating.
Use the Trim tool at the tail of the piano loop to shorten the music to end when the bass ends.
A razor blade is really the only tool you need to editwhether it's video or audio or music. GarageBand provides a chopping tool identical to the one in iMovie. Command-T breaks a selected track at the playhead (called Split in the GarageBand Edit menu). Using Command-T with the Move and Copy functions you've already used will let you build far more interesting combinations of loops (or parts of loops). GarageBand is all about loops, and you've been working with a series of musical loops. Now it's time to loop your tracks.
Click the Loop button.
This button (a pair of curved arrows) is in the shuttle controls. It lets your music repeat over and over.
When you select Loop, a yellow bar pops into the ruler area of the timeline. This yellow region determines what section of your creation will be looped.
By clicking the end of the yellow bar, you can drag the loop duration in or out to be shorter or longer, whatever you prefer for evaluating the music you've created.
If your loop region is not aligned with the 5 in the ruler, drag the end of the yellow bar so that it is.
Click the Play button.
No matter where your playhead is parked, it will always pop to the beginning of the yellow bar to start playing. When it reaches the end of the bar, it will pop back to the beginning and continue, no matter how far your music extends. Now you're looping.