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Before digital mixing and automation, mixing engineers had to perform final mixes much like the performers who performed on the tracks they were mixing. Sometimes it took several attempts to get the mix right. Decisions and edits were made with razor blades and tape and then the mixing engineer and indeed sometimes the producer and even members of the band had to reach in and actually move a fader, change in EQ or enable effects just at the right moment while the Master mix is being laid off two track tape. With the advent of motorized faders, they can be computer-controlled and programmed to move the faders on a mixing console to aid the engineer's efforts.
GarageBand offers automated mixing capabilities as well and as soon as you learn the simple technique for marking a point in time and altering your parameter of choice at a second point in time, you will be able to automate almost everything in GarageBand when it comes to your mixes. Let's look at the lead vocal track first. Every track has a Show Automation triangle in the lower right of the track header. Enable it and you can see the timeline for adding notes or keyframes. So the way that this happens is along the timeline you click your mouse and get an automation node, click another one and add a third, and now you've got a three point edit you can make.
So I can drag this down and since I'm automating volume, the volume will actually go down here. So I'll just play this little section and you can hear the volume go way down and then come back up again. (Music playing) So you have ultimate control over what volume happens where and you can actually program it in by placing nodes and clicking and dragging around. Now I will hit Undo four times to make those go away. The thing to remember though is to set two nodes like this and then change your volume level.
Now suddenly the rest of the song is at this new lower level. Now if that's what you want, that's fine, but a lot of times an automation move is going away from the default level and coming back to either raising or lowering and coming back to that default area, which is why before I created three or yes even sometimes four nodes where you can click and drag above the line to select two nodes and move them together. That way it goes down, stays down for a certain amount of time, and comes back up again to the original point.
So I always like to play several nodes on line and that way I know exactly where I was before for getting back. The moment we happen to actually be at -1.4 so you can see it's a little bit below 0 and so that's my starting place for all of my automation. So what I want to do in this case is affect these really loud notes in the verse in the vocal track. So I am going to zoom way in on them and I am going to create a place where they start and then a place where it's right in the thickest part of the waveform, which is where it's loudest. I think it's probably going to be roughly there and then back up to the end.
Sometimes I like to put a couple of nodes at the beginning and end so that in case the word or phrase leading in or the word or phrase or sound coming out need some adjustments then I have plenty of tools to do so. So for the moment we are going to have to listen to this line several times again and make sure we get our automation right. Now that I have got those nodes placed I can zoom out a little bit more. Get some perspective here. I am going to create a cycle region for that section, subject you to it one more time, and I am going to loop it and make some adjustments.
(Music playing) Now you noticed-- I don't know if you noticed. I noticed that that seemed too quiet all of a sudden.
I pulled it down one more time then it is sort of disappeared there. So I am going to bring that back up one. This is a pretty delicate so you sort of got to be careful with your mouse as you click on them. Remember to use Undo if you do something you didn't mean to do. The other thing that happens all the time is sometimes you will click and attempt to move a node and what will happen by accident is you will add another like that. So I will just hit Undo to kind of get back to where you were and we will listen one more time. (Music playing) It's almost too drastic. So I am going to move this node out a little bit so that the change between here and here is more gradual as opposed to just dropping right off.
(Music playing) So it may even be a little bit too strong still. Okay and we will try to actually basically mimic the same thing here in this one. Scroll back and if I -- if you hover over a given keyframe, you'll see what the decimal reading of that position is. So that's -3.4 so if we want to match that, go to -3.4, bring this one down a little bit as well and check that out.
(Music playing) That's kind of a little strong there as well. Sometimes a subtle touch is all you need. Again thanks for bearing with me and hearing those loud vocal notes again and again. We are going to go now to the chorus at the end where I think it will benefit from a little bit of raised volume. (Music playing) Compared to the default, because there is a lot more music happening in that last one and also there's a line I want to work on here too. We will find that.
(Music playing) So that echo kind of pops out a little bit too much. (Music playing) Great! And the other thing I want to do is on the Dreamy Texture during the solo section or during the pre-chorus, I would like to create a slight rise in volume for the solo so the guitar can sort of pop-out. And I will use the select technique of clicking and dragging so that I can move both of these at the same time.
And also zoom in so I can see my angle and make sure I know where that's actually happening and I am going to make it happen kind of right on the note. Then we are getting the pre-chorus and actually end before the first note of the chorus. (Music playing) That's the way you can bring an instrument out for a short period of time, have it sort of rise above the rest.
I will actually do that a little bit less when it starts and gradually build throughout. It's also a way that you can create a manual fadeout if you want as well just by doing a long tail like that and dragging it down so then an individual track, if you wanted to make it fade, you could manually fade it out like that. Resume back up, unsolo that.
Now you have seen how we can use volume. This menu here shows you that you have Track Volume and Track Pan available to you. If you wanted to make the panning, the left to right panning, of a given track change over time, you would create nodes and move up and down, below and above the centerline, the centerline being center panned. So this if you actually watch the fader over here for panning as I'm clicking through here it's actually moving. So if you needed to for some reason adjust panning over time, you can do that and then finally-- let's get this back in the center by Option+clicking.
What if you wanted to automate something else? Remember, earlier we're talking about using Phaser Stompbox pedal to come in at a certain point in the song and then be out for the rest of the song so one of the parameters we might want to adjust on this phaser is actually the Bypass button. So I'm going to get set up for the pre- chorus, which is where I want to actually have this happen, and then in Fat Stack Left we will start there, show automation, and this time I am going to choose Add Automation and we get a menu of all the possible things that are on this track that we can do.
So Stomp Boxes, here is the Phase Tripper and the Petal State is on or off. So if I check that, that now becomes one of the options in my menu. So I can actually enable that and when this line is down, it's off. As you can see there is no light and where it's up, you can see the light is on. So as we hit that point in time, it's going to kick on. (Music playing) So we can do the same thing on the other track.
And then we need to remember to kick it back off again when the pre-chorus is over. And zoom in if you want to make sure that it's going off and on at the exact right spot. You can slide the end of this line to meet the spot you want it to be at. Let's scroll back to the beginning and make sure we are right at the top of the pre-chorus which starts here on both.
We can close these down. And that's how easy it is to automate volume, pan, and stompbox affect state changes and even amplifier state changes. If you look in that Add Automation menu, you'll see how to access to all of the different things that are available to you on each individual track.
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