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Whenever you want to create a new project in GarageBand, you'll have two quick stops to make first. The first of these is the New Project chooser. On the left side you'll need to choose what you want to do in GarageBand--create a new project, work on a learn-to-play lesson, create a ring tone, and so on-- and on the right side, depending on which you've chosen, how you are going to do it. So if you click on New Project, you'll see that there are nine project starter templates designed to save you time. If you are doing one of the things listed here--writing a song or playing electric guitar--just go ahead and choose it.
You can always modify it later. Keep in mind that all of these project types are just preset window configurations optimized for each specific task, and you can use these as starting places. The point is, if you choose Electric Guitar, you're not precluding yourself from creating a podcast or a Loops-based song; it will just take you less steps to get there if you choose the one you want from the New Project chooser to begin with. If you aren't doing anything in particular but just want to play, the simplest way to create a project with nothing in it but one MIDI track for recording with a software instrument using your MIDI keyboard, like a piano or organ, just go ahead and choose Piano.
The simplest way to set up a project with nothing else in it except one real instrument track ready to record something through a microphone, choose Acoustic Instrument. And as you might've guessed by now, the quickest way to create a GarageBand project with nothing more than a single track preset with everything you need to play and record some electric guitar using all of the amp models and guitar stompboxes that are at your fingertips with GarageBand '11, Electric Guitar it is. For this example let's choose Acoustic Instrument. I am going to double-click or just click and select Choose on Acoustic Instrument.
The second stop is the Save As dialog. Do yourself a favor and take a moment to decide on a descriptive name and save all of your GarageBand project files in a location that you can easily find later, in case you want to delete some project files or back them up. I just always save mine in the Music directory under my username. I am going to name that NewProject. I've already got my Music directory selected. If you need to actually navigate through your finder, you can click this down arrow here to expand this sort of normal view for finding where you want to save things. I am just going to leave that at Music for now.
Then in the bottom half of the Save As dialog box you can set your tempo with the slider or just by typing in the beats per minute, or bpm, that you'd like to record or play at. If you're planning to use the metronome, this'll be the starting tempo that your click will play at when you turn it on. It also determines the speed at which Apple Loops will play back in this project, and even some of the effects you might use will have certain timed elements that will sync up your project, all based on this tempo setting. You can set your time signature by choosing a value from the Signature dropdown menu.
You can choose 4/4, or 6/8, 3/4, and so on. And then finally, the key your song will be in, as well as whether it's a major key or a minor key. If you don't have all these answers at your fingertips when you're creating your new project file, for whatever reason, you can just use the default values of 120 beats per minute, 4/4, and C major. You aren't trapped once you make a selection here. These settings can be altered from within your project file, but sometimes it can be really helpful. My general rule of thumb is if you already know what tempo, signature, and key your song is going to be in, then by all means enter it in the Save As dialog, and then you don't have to worry about it later.
If you are just experimenting, or haven't really decided on these values yet on the song you'd like to work on, then just go with the defaults. The song that I am going to be creating throughout the middle five chapters of this course is going to be 4/4, and the tempo is going to be 154 beats per minute, and the key is A major. Once those are set, I'll click Create and my project will open up. In the LCD display, I can cycle around with the up or down arrows until I get to project, and you'll see that my settings are already configured.
You can click and hold on this icon as well to see the four different displays that are available to you. Be aware that when you change the settings after you've actually recorded something into a track, or after you've dragged some loops into your timeline, these settings can alter what you played to suit the new tempo, signature, or key, leaving you at the mercy of the Undo command. Basically, if you change your tempo down 10 beats per minute and you've already recorded something, GarageBand is going to attempt to shift that tempo down and actually destructively edit your audio region.
So if you do that by mistake, just go ahead and hit Command+Z to undo and get back to where you were before you made that change. You can also always change or tempo or your key back to what it originally was.
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