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Creating and building a song

From: iPad Music Production: GarageBand

Video: Creating and building a song

Now that we've learned how to play the various instruments available in GarageBand, in this chapter we're going to take a look at the recording and mixing process. So we're going to build a song from scratch, add a bunch of tracks to it and mix it all in GarageBand. Let's start by creating a new project by tapping My Songs, here I'll tap the plus button and choose New Song. I'll just select the Keyboard here. It doesn't really matter which instrument you pick right off the bat, we just need to select an instrument to get into the song, so we can get to the song settings. And as I previously mentioned, you want to make sure you set your tempo, your key and your time signature right off the bat here.

Creating and building a song

Now that we've learned how to play the various instruments available in GarageBand, in this chapter we're going to take a look at the recording and mixing process. So we're going to build a song from scratch, add a bunch of tracks to it and mix it all in GarageBand. Let's start by creating a new project by tapping My Songs, here I'll tap the plus button and choose New Song. I'll just select the Keyboard here. It doesn't really matter which instrument you pick right off the bat, we just need to select an instrument to get into the song, so we can get to the song settings. And as I previously mentioned, you want to make sure you set your tempo, your key and your time signature right off the bat here.

So my Tempo is currently 110. Now this is a case again where you might want to tap the Play button just to listen to the Metronome to see if it matches the beat of the song you have in mind. You might also want to sort of hum along or play a couple of notes to see if it matches the Tempo you have in your head. If it doesn't, go back to Song Settings, tap the Tempo and here again you can either tap the Tempo up or down, you can also slide up and down to make larger adjustments and of course, you can also just tap along to set the tempo. I think mine will be at 115, so I'll leave it there.

Let's go back to Settings. Next, we want to make sure to set the Key and again, this is especially important if you're going to be working with Apple Loops or Smart Instruments, especially with Apple Loops because they conform to the key that you select and if you select the wrong key, your Apple Loops are going to sound way out of tune. So in this case, this song will be in G major. Lastly, we have the Time Signature and this song will be standard 4/4. Now another thing to consider right at the start is the structure of your song, by which I mean trying to figure out which parts of your song are the verses, the chorus, the middle eight, or whether your song even follows a structure like that, because again if you look at the top of the GarageBand interface, we only have eight bars to work with here by default.

If I move my playhead right to bar 8, tap Play, when it reaches the end, you can see it goes right back to the beginning of the song. So it loops back. But the idea here is to make it easier for you to work with one section of your song at a time. So you add more sections by tapping the plus button here which displays all the sections of your song. I only have Section A right now and it shows it's having 8 bars. So you don't need to know the entire structure or the order of everything right off the bat, but it does make it easier to work with your song later if you can define as much of it as possible. So for example I'm going to start my song with a one major intro before leading into the first verse.

So I'm going to change Section A to just 1 bar. Then I'll tap Add to create the next section, Section B, and I'll leave it at 8 bars. And while I am at it, I'll tap Add one more time to create Section C which will be my chorus and it will also be 8 bars. So you might have noticed as I was adding sections, my timeline was getting longer and I have 17 measures here in the timeline. Now it's kind of difficult to see so I'm going to tap All Sections. You should see that each one of these sections is now labeled. I am going to move my playhead out of the way here.

You should see measure 1 has an A, measure 2 has a B, and at measure 10 we have C. So right now, I'm looking at all of the sections of my song. If you want to only work with one section at a time, you can go back to the song sections and maybe I just want to work with the Chorus Section C, I'll select that and you can see now my timeline expands just to show the measures in that particular section. Now if you prefer to work with a little less structure, you don't have to work with these sections at all, you can just go back to the Add Sections button and here I'll tap the blue arrow for Section C for example and I'm going to change this to Automatic.

So at this point, the playhead will not loop back to the beginning of the section anytime and I can just continue to record. This might be particularly useful if you're recording a live performance where you don't know what the structure is going to be, you can just let it continue to record until the end of the song. But again, I do want to have only 8 measures in this particular section, so I am going to go back and change Section C back to 8 measures. So the whole idea behind structuring your song is it makes it easier to rearrange it later. If I go back into song sections and choose Edit, you can find I can do things like move sections around.

So if I decide maybe I want the chorus to come before the verse later on, I can just move Section C up. If I change my mind, I can move it back. And anything, that's recorded in those sections, will move along with those sections when I move them. You will notice we also have a Duplicate button. So if for example I've already recorded the verse and I just want to put a copy of it after the first chorus, I can come in here, select Section B which is my verse in this case, tap Duplicate and you can see now I have a Section D. So anything that was in Section B will be copied into Section D and I've now got a duplicate verse.

So if for example you are in a hurry to get a demo out, you might just record one verse and one chorus and then just copy and paste them into place to make the entire song. We'll talk more about doing that sort of thing a little bit later, but for now that's how you set up a song in GarageBand. Next, we are going to take a look at adding tracks to our song.

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iPad Music Production: GarageBand

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Garrick Chow
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