Back in the old days if you wanted to make some music you’d have to do it the old fashioned way: by coughing up thousands of dollars to give to some dude with the nickname “toolshed.” In other words, music production was as specialized a procedure as they came. Nowadays just about anyone can make decent sounding tunes right there in their living room, bedroom or even sketchy basement. One of the most effective, and cheapest, audio recording solutions on the market has to be Apple’s GarageBand. Here are some tips and tricks to help you make the most out of your time with the program, separated into its Mac and iOS versions.
GarageBand for iOS
Touch instruments are your friend
One of the neat advantages of using the iOS version is the addition of touch instruments, which allow you to, well, touch the instruments in order to make sound come out. It’s almost, but not quite, like playing a real instrument but it truly is a whole lot of fun. Some of these instruments can make some really great sounds and Apple has not skimped on the high quality samples. Here’s another quick tip: Tap and hold on the instrument to open up the instrument menu, which allows you to switch instruments on the fly and more.
Use some nutty chords
The above-mentioned smart instruments will start playing basic chords, usually the same major chords you hear everywhere. However, if you are going for an “impending doom” David Lynch type thing, you are gonna want to switch to some minor variations, among others. You can tell each instrument which chords to play simply by clicking on the wrench icon. It allows you to input eight chords into every instrument at will. Go crazy with the Dsus4 Add9, but not too crazy. People might think you party just a little bit too hard.
Autoplays so you don’t have to
Remember those touch instruments I keep harping on? GarageBand for iOS lets you do another nifty thing with them. The autoplay feature lets you set how many fingers are playing each particular chord in your instrument. Mess around with this feature to get some sparse or busy sounding chord sections to create mood. Mood is good! Unless it’s a bad mood. Bad moods are bad.
GarageBand for Mac
Get a little help from your fake friends
If you are a GarageBand newbie, be sure to click on the quick help button on the top of the screen. This makes it so every time you hover your mouse over something, it’ll tell you exactly what that something does. If only this worked in real life. Sigh.
Control stuff, remotely
If you happen to find yourself the owner of a little device called an iPad, you can use it as a remote control for GarageBand. Just go to the app store and download Logic Remote. It’s free and even lets you use the aforementioned virtual instruments, not to mention allowing remote control of stop, start and the rest. Just think, you’ll never have to be near your computer again.
Master that junk!
Mastering is an oft-misunderstood part of the recording process. It’s that final step that tends to take your song from “pretty cool” to “pretty cool!!” GarageBand makes mastering easy via a suite of presets designed to give good masters to a variety of different genres. Of course, you can also tweak these to your heart’s content. Now bring on the loudness war.
Follow Lawrence Bonk on Twitter @sidescrollers