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Setting up your song

From: iPad Music Production: GarageBand

Video: Setting up your song

Whenever you're working in GarageBand, you're working in a song. A song is simply the project that you're currently in. Right now, the song I am in is the project that I created in a previous movie, but I am going to go to My Songs and here I see the song that I'm just working on is currently titled My Song, and I still see the Curtain Call Demo song that was created when I installed GarageBand. But if I want to create a new song, I simply tap the plus button and tap New Song. Again I am given the instrument picker here, I can select a keyboard.

Setting up your song

Whenever you're working in GarageBand, you're working in a song. A song is simply the project that you're currently in. Right now, the song I am in is the project that I created in a previous movie, but I am going to go to My Songs and here I see the song that I'm just working on is currently titled My Song, and I still see the Curtain Call Demo song that was created when I installed GarageBand. But if I want to create a new song, I simply tap the plus button and tap New Song. Again I am given the instrument picker here, I can select a keyboard.

Now an important thing to remember here is that your song is not actually saved until you do something, basically you have to record something in your song before it's saved. If I go back to My Songs, notice I still only have those original two songs here, My Song and Curtain Call. The one I just created is nowhere to be seen because I actually haven't done anything in it yet. So now I have to tap the plus button again, choose New Song, select the Keyboard and this time I'll just record a couple of bars. (music playing) So now that I have recorded some content, if I go back to My Songs you can see now I have a third project in here currently titled My Song 2, which doesn't really tell me what the song is, so if you want to rename your song simply tap the name, you can delete that out of there, I'll just call this Keyboard Tune and tap Done.

And now I can go back into the song. So any time you want to make sure you save what you just recorded, it might be a good idea to tap My Songs that will automatically save your song, then you can tap the project to open it up again and continue recording. Now it's entirely possible you might just be using GarageBand for live performances. Maybe you have your iPad hooked up to a PA and you just want to play the keyboard through it or one of the other instruments. But even if that's the case I would still suggest creating a project and maybe calling it live and just selecting that project when you want to perform live. That way you run into less chance of accidentally recording over a project that you wanted to save, maybe one of your other songs that you've been recording.

But if you're going to be recording a song, it is important to know how to properly set up that song, and you'll find most of settings you want to be concerned with under the Settings button. The first item here is Metronome and that's the clicking sound you hear as you're playing. It helps you keep all your tracks in time with each other, and you probably heard that when I was recording. (music playing) Just drag this track volume down. So currently we're listening to the Woodblock sound of the Metronome. We can actually select from three other sounds, there is Click, Hihat and Rimshot.

For the most part, you'll want to pick the sound that will come through the clearest based on whatever else you're playing in the song, because you can't actually adjust the volume of the Metronome. What you hear is basically what you get. In my opinion the Rimshot is probably the loudest followed by the Woodblock. I've trouble hearing the click in the Hihat myself, so I usually don't select this. I'll even add the default Woodblock. But be sure to go through and try all different sounds on your own to see what comes through the best with your recordings. Next we have the Count-In feature and this gives you four counts before it starts recording. So anytime I press Record with Count-In on GarageBand will give me four beats, 1, 2, 3, 4 and then it will start recording.

This is especially useful if you're working by yourself and don't have somebody there to press the buttons for you. What you can do is just move the playhead where you want to start recording and with Count-In on when I tap the Record button, you'll see the playhead jump back a measure and then you'll see it start recording at measure six in this case. (music playing) And there it starts recording. Without Count-In turned on, GarageBand will start recording immediately as soon as you tap the Record button, which might not give you enough time to get your hands off the iPad and on to your instrument.

So I generally recommend leaving that on. The next setting is the Tempo. Now if you already have your song flushed out you may know the exact tempo you want, in which case you can either just tap the arrows to get to the tempo you want, or just move your finger up and down to set the tempo more quickly. Now if you don't know what tempo you want, maybe you're just in the demo phase and you're still trying to flush out what your song is all about, you can also use the Tap to is set Tempo button, and simply by tapping here GarageBand will automatically calculate the tempo. Maybe you're recording a friend playing guitar and while they're strumming you can tap out the beat.

If you don't have somebody else there may be you can just hum your tune and while you're humming just figure out the beat that way. After a couple of taps GarageBand should have what you need. Next we can set the Key of our song. Now this is especially important if you're going to be working with Apple Loops or smart instruments. Both Loops and smart instruments will conform to the key that you select. So it's a good idea to have the key set before you start recording. So if I know this is going to be for instance an A minor, I might choose minor and then A.

Now if I'd already recorded some music with the smart instruments or Apple Loops, because I have Follow Song Key selected here and it's turned on, the instruments I record will automatically conform to the new key. But if I were to turn that off, the instruments that I've recorded would stay in their original key. Generally though, you probably want to keep that on, although there might be some cases where maybe you record in C major and then you decided to change the song to an A minor, but you want to hear what the part in C major sounds like over that key. So you can play around with keeping Follow Song Key on or off.

Next we can set our Time Signature. You can select from 4/4, 3/4 or 6/8 and this is another setting that's important to set before you start recording your song. Because if you put down some music and then change the time signature, none of that music will conform to the new settings, so make sure you set that before you start recording. Next we have a Fade Out option. This simply adds a 10 second fade out to your song, no matter how long your song happens to be. This is a good idea to turn on if maybe you just can't come up with an ending for your song. But even if your song is only 30 seconds long, the last 10 seconds will be a fade out, and that fade out will move based on the length of your song.

So if I then expand that song to two and a half minutes, the last 10 seconds will still be that fade out. This final setting currently labeled AirPlay Bluetooth, doesn't really have to do with the settings of your song, but it's here to give you some options for playback. By default, you can monitor what you've been playing through your iPad either through its internal speaker or through the headphone jack. But maybe you have a better quality speaker hooked up to your home stereo system or maybe you have Bluetooth speakers, by turning this option on you can connect your iPad wirelessly to these devices and listen through what are arguably better quality speakers.

Now notice when I turn AirPlay on, I get this message telling me that Audio input is disabled, and you may notice a delay when playing Touch instruments. What's this basically telling me is that this feature is only for playback. It can't be used for recording because the wireless features produce too much latency or delay between the time you play and what you actually hear. But this is still a good way to monitor what you've played through better quality speakers. Incidentally if you have your iPad hooked up to an HDMI cable that might be plugged into say an HD TV, you'll see this labeled AirPlay Bluetooth HDMI as well.

I'll just leave that off for now. So those are the song settings that's important to be familiar with. Now we will be building a song from scratch later on, but before we get into that I want to spend some time looking at each of the specific instruments that you can play in GarageBand.

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iPad Music Production: GarageBand

30 video lessons · 9615 viewers

Garrick Chow
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