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The great thing about software instruments is that you have complete control over a wide range of aspects of your sounds, all of which can be adjusted long after the part has been recorded. With the piano part that I just tracked, the desire was for it to be an accent or color, not really to take over the song. So I am going to work with the piano generator and the effects I have enabled on the piano track to try to have it fulfill a textual support role in my song and not stand out too much. So we need to get to the Edit tab. You can get there quickly by double- clicking the track header of the track that you want to edit and then clicking Edit tab and you will notice that we have two separate areas here.
One is Sound Generator and the other is Effects. In the Sound Generator area, you can see this menu which basically is a list of all of the individual sound modules that make up the GarageBand software instrument library. All of the sounds that you hear are all based on one of these in this list. All the piano sounds come from the piano module. So that's what selected up here. Those are parameters that we can edit as well. A piano module has Volume, Cutoff, and Release. So as you move these sliders around, you will find the sound of your piano actually changing a bit, although it's not changing from the piano say into a guitar.
So it's all within the realm of piano. I am going to close this for just a moment and a good way to work on editing the parameters of software instruments is to create a cycle region on part of your track. I am going to turn this on and slide this yellow bar over to the beginning of where my piano starts. I'll also make it a little narrow so it doesn't have to play all the way into the middle of the verse, just the beginning. If I Solo piano by clicking the Headphone icon and press Play, then GarageBand will just play piano doing this little looped area for me while I work on editing sounds.
(Music playing) So I am just going to let that play. I am going to click on the Generator Preferences and move the sliders around and listen to how they change things. (Music playing) Trying to find the sweet spot there where it's not too bright.
That's super bright. (Music playing) That's nice, and overall the volume is probably in a pretty good space. And hit Spacebar to stop the loop. So that's a good way to work on editing any of your parameters, is loop a small section of the audio and then work on the sliders and listen to how they change things. I am going to keep moving down here into the effects area and this particular sound we just have a Compressor and a Visual EQ. I'd actually like to use the EQ of the sound before the compressor.
Your signal chain flows from the top to bottom, so whichever is in the top slot, that's the first thing that effects your sound, and the next thing is the next thing that effects that effected sound. So you need to make the chain be the order that you want things to happen. So for me, I'd actually like to work with the EQ before I compress my sound. So I am going to put EQ up top, click on its parameters, loop my sound again, and then work with exactly how much of these high-end frequencies I want to have boosted. And I just need to click and drag in any of these areas to raise or lower those frequencies.
(Music playing) That sounds pretty good. One thing you have to remember too is if you're working on editing your sound, especially when it comes to EQ and Compression, in Solo mode, you're not you're not hearing the piano in league with all of the other sound.
So this is sort of just the starting place. I am approaching this from the point of view of what is it that I think I want my piano to sound like and I am just going to make some small edits, and then when I start to combine the piano with other sounds from the song, I can make modifications to these if I need to. So I am going to close EQ. That sounds pretty good to start with, but I also know that the acoustic guitar part is going to be a big part of the interplay between that and the piano, because of the high end nature of the guitar and also the sound of the pick on the strings. So for the moment I'm going to also solo guitar, so I can hear both of them together for a moment here.
(Music playing) So, just sort of listening for a nice blend between the two. I just sort of got rid of a little bit of the highs, so they seem like they belonged together a little bit better for me. There's also the simple matter of track volume. When we get around to mixing, I am going to be bringing a number of these sliders down so we can start from a quieter stage and build up.
For the moment this is still our production mix, so we don't have vocals in here yet. I am just going to keep things where they are, but adjust the piano volume relative to the guitar just a bit as well. (Music playing) The other thing I know that I want to do with this piano is set it off to the left of the stereo spectrum so that when we work with the drum part, and this is something I've already thought about. Tthe drum part has a hi-hat and cymbal track that plays sort of off to the right a bit in its stereo spectrum.
So I am going to move the piano to the left and bring the drums in and solo those and we'll play those together as well, and then I'll adjust the panning of this piano part. (Music playing) Just move it to the left so it bounces with the cymbals. (Music playing) I am keeping the syncopated drums in the center, because that is already a stereo audio track. So if the cymbals are heavy in the right, it is because that's how that stereo file has been mixed.
Our piano part right now is essentially a mono track which I'm positioning to the left. The Reverb and the effects that are on the piano part are actually stereo effects. So there are opening up the picture of the piano to sound stereo, but the track itself is mono. Finally, I do want to look at the Compressor as well. I am going to turn the drums off. I'll leave the guitar on for the moment, because I like the way that these are working together as I sculpt this sound a little bit. Compression gives us four parameters to edit.
The Threshold is the volume that your sound needs to be at before the Compressor will actually kick in and compress your dynamic range. So if I want to make the Compressor kick in more often and be more aggressive, I need to move the threshold lower to left, and if I want it to tread a little more lightly on my sound, I need to move the threshold to the right. (Music playing) Ratio is how much compression is actually happening at that threshold.
The Ratio right now for this particular setting is 1.8:1, so not even quite 2:1. If I wanted more compression to even out the dynamic range, I'd slide this to the right, but I actually want it to be a little bit lighter. So I am going to move off some. Attack is how quickly the compression kicks in, at this ratio at that threshold. So if I wanted to be a faster response, I can slide this down to the left. Gain is my overall gain. In this particular instance of the Compressor plug-in is adding 6 dB to our overall piano sound, which I think is good, because the piano sound itself is very quiet.
(Music playing) I am pretty happy with that. I am going to leave it there. I know that I can come back in here during the mixing phase and make other adjustments. And remember if you're happy with the edits that you've made for your software instrument presets, you can always click Save Instrument, give it a name, hit Save, and it will always be available to you in your preset list in the future.
So especially in cases where you're going to be recording a software instrument, definitely remember that you can make an infinite number of adjustments to the sound afterward and don't get hung up on trying to craft the perfect sound first. If you're inspired play or record something, don't let sound editing hold you up. Get it recorded first and then edit your sound to your heart's content after the recording light is out.
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