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Getting to know the GarageBand for iPad interface

From: iPad Music Production: GarageBand

Video: Getting to know the GarageBand for iPad interface

All right, let's start by taking a look at the GarageBand interface. When you first open GarageBand, you are presented with the Instruments Selector, and you can just swipe left or right to select the instrument you want to play or record for your song. Now because you will be swiping a lot in this application, I do recommend having your iPad on some kind of stand or mount just to keep it stable, especially if you have a slick desktop like we have here. So I just have this sitting on top of a laptop stand in this case. Now you can select any instrument you want to start. I'll just select the Keyboard. Once you select an instrument, it pretty much takes up your entire screen.

Getting to know the GarageBand for iPad interface

All right, let's start by taking a look at the GarageBand interface. When you first open GarageBand, you are presented with the Instruments Selector, and you can just swipe left or right to select the instrument you want to play or record for your song. Now because you will be swiping a lot in this application, I do recommend having your iPad on some kind of stand or mount just to keep it stable, especially if you have a slick desktop like we have here. So I just have this sitting on top of a laptop stand in this case. Now you can select any instrument you want to start. I'll just select the Keyboard. Once you select an instrument, it pretty much takes up your entire screen.

Essentially, your iPad becomes that instrument. So right now I have a Grand Piano instrument that I can just start playing. (music playing) Each instrument has its own set of controls. For example, I have a Grand Piano button here. So I can select a different type of keyboard, maybe the classic rock organ. You can see it changed its look and now I have a totally different sound. So each instrument does have its own sounds and controls and we'll be covering each one of these instruments in their own movies throughout this course.

For now let's continue looking at the interface. I am going to start with My Songs in the upper left-hand corner here, and this is the area you go to to open any previously created songs or projects you are working on, or you can create brand new songs from here as well. Right now I have this Curtain Call - Demo song which is installed with GarageBand and this is a demo song you can open up and play along with. When I select it it opens up in Track View, and this is just a view where we see each individual track of this particular project. I have a movie coming up dedicated to walking you through the Track View, so we'll get to that a little bit later.

For now I am going to go back to My Songs and I'll create a new song by tapping the plus button and then New Song. It takes me right back to the Instruments Selector and again I can just swipe through here to select an instrument. Maybe this time I'll select the drums and now I'm looking at a completely different instrument, but again this is the one I can play just by tapping on the screen. (music playing) So when you create a new song, you have to select an instrument right off the bat, but you are not locked into that instrument.

Maybe instead of starting with the drums, I want to start with a bass. So I'll tap Instruments, swipe through here and I'll find the Smart Bass. And just like that I'm looking at a totally different instrument again. Next, we have this pair of buttons here. Now currently, we are working in what's called Instrument View. This is the view you will work in when you need to play an instrument on the screen. By tapping this button, it doesn't matter which button you tap, either one we'll switch back and forth between the Instrument View and what we are looking at now which is the Track View.

So now I am looking at Track View, I see one track in here so far and that's currently my Smart Bass because that's the instrument I selected. So tapping this button anywhere just toggles it back and forth between the instrument and the Track View. Now this button on the left will change its appearance a little bit based on the instrument you have selected. I am currently working with the Smart Bass, so you see a little Smart Bass icon in there. Now a shortcut to get back to the Instrument View when you're in Track View is to double-tap the Instrument icon here on the left-hand side. That becomes a little bit more important when you are working with multiple tracks and you want to jump back to a specific instrument.

So if I had eight different tracks in here and I wanted to go back to the Smart Bass, I could just double-tap it, and it takes me right back in. Next we have our playback controls. We have the Rewind, Play, and Record buttons. Pretty self-explanatory, but the Rewind button takes you back to the very beginning of the Timeline, and by Timeline I mean this Timeline you see across the top of the screen here. And this is the Playhead that I just dragged out. That indicates where in the song you are; wherever the Playhead is, when you tap Play, that's where the song will start playing from. So if I tap Play now, you could see the Playhead just moves along, we can hear the Metronome playing.

You can actually drag that Playhead along anywhere you want and it will keep playing or even just tap anywhere on the Timeline to jump to specific parts of your song. I'll tap Stop, turns back into the Rewind button, I'll tap that, takes the Playhead all the way back. Incidentally, when it's not playing, you can still tap on the Timeline to jump to specific locations or drag the Playhead. You can even double-tap on the Timeline to start playing right from where you tapped. And again, I'll rewind that. We'll talk more about recording when we get to the chapter on recording and mixing.

Next we have the Master Volume slider and this just lets you adjust the volume of your playback. You can see as I move my finger along, you see the overlay of volume popup there. When you are playing your instrument or you're listening back to something you recorded, you'll see these lights light up in the Master Volume slider, and the lights will go from green to yellow to red. You want to keep the lights out of the red because you will be clipping or distorting your track in that case, and that's definitely something you don't want. Again, we'll be talking more about setting the levels in upcoming movies as well. But again you just move your finger along the slider to set the volume.

You can also use the Volume buttons on the iPad itself to adjust the volume incrementally like this. Next, we have the Jam Session button. This is a really cool feature that lets you connect two or more iPads together over Bluetooth, and it's really useful if you want to have multiple musicians all recording or playing at the same time. You can actually have everybody playing at the same time and then record all those tracks to one iPad. Again, that's another feature we'll look at a little bit later, but it is a really cool feature. Next, we have our mixer controls. These are the controls for the particular track you're working on or have selected.

Right now it says Liverpool at the top because that's the instrument that I'm playing; it's the Liverpool style bass. You can see I can adjust things like the Track Volume, the panning, I can solo it, and so on. The Settings controls which looks like a wrench is for setting the overall settings of the song. So we set things like Tempo, the Key or the Time Signature here. And next to that, we have this Question Mark or Info button, and when we tap that, that opens up these helpful overlays over the interface you're looking at. So right now I am looking at my Smart Bass so I see overlays about the Smart Bass.

It tells me here that I can choose a sound by tapping this button here, it tells me to tap the strings in any of these strips to play bass notes for that particular chord. Now you'll see some of these overlays have little arrows next to them. Anytime you see those arrows you can tap them and that will open up the GarageBand Help file, so you can see now it can read more about in this case using the Control Bar. I can also tap GarageBand Help, go to the table of contents and read up on any other section of the GarageBand Help file. I'll tap Done and I'll just close the overlays for now.

So all of these interface elements will appear whether you're in the Instrument View or the Track View. Now there are a couple other buttons that will show up under certain circumstances. Now for example, I am going to record a short piece here, but again we'll get more into recording a little bit later but let me just tap Record. (music playing) So I just recorded a couple bars of a bassline here.

Now let's take a look at Track View. So you can see now I have a region here now that I have recorded, but you might have also noticed that an Undo button has appeared here. This Undo button works just like it does in pretty much every other application. It takes away the last step you performed. So if I were to tap Undo right now, it gets rid of what I just recorded. Now fortunately I can tap Undo again and notice that Redo Recording now appears. We do have a Redo function, so in case you do make a mistake like that, you can just tap Redo, in this case Recording, to bring that region back. Now another button that has appeared in the interface and only shows up when you're in the Track View is the Apple Loops button.

This gives you access to a huge library of prerecorded instruments that you can use to create a song from scratch or to just sort of fill out a song you're already working on. And the way this works is you can just browse through here, currently I am looking at Drums, but I could select an instrument here, maybe switch to Guitars, I can just browse through and tap on anything that sounds interesting. (music playing) Maybe in this case I do want to go back to Drums and find a beat to go along with my song.

(music playing) Now if you find something you like, all you have to do is just drag it into your project. You can see it appears on its own track and now if I play, you will be able to hear it. (music playing) Now we'll get into more with working with loops a little bit later, but that's basically the gist of it, and it can really help you fill out a song that you're working with especially if you can't play a particular instrument or can't find somebody to play an instrument that you want to have in your song.

But for now, that's an overview of the GarageBand interface. And really I encourage you to just sort of play around with the interface and see what you can up with. We are going to be taking a lot closer look at all of these different details, but just take some time now, open up a project, throw in some instruments, play around with their settings and effects and see what you can come up with. There is really no way you can break the interface or do anything that you can just undo by getting rid of your song and opening up a new project. So take some time, play around with GarageBand and I'll see you in the next movie.

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iPad Music Production: GarageBand

30 video lessons · 9267 viewers

Garrick Chow
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