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Working with song sections

From: iPad Music Production: GarageBand

Video: Working with song sections

So at this point I've got my song pretty much the way I want it. I've got a verse, a chorus and a verse. I've got all the instruments that I want to use. But before we get into the mixing process I want to spend a little bit of time here and arrange the song, because right now with just the verse, chorus and verse it's kind of short song even for a demo. So what I'd like to do here is just add two more choruses at the end to finish out this song. And we do this by playing with the song sections which we looked at earlier. And on paper this would seem pretty easy to do, but there are a couple of pitfalls that you have to be aware of and I like to run you through a couple of those now.

Working with song sections

So at this point I've got my song pretty much the way I want it. I've got a verse, a chorus and a verse. I've got all the instruments that I want to use. But before we get into the mixing process I want to spend a little bit of time here and arrange the song, because right now with just the verse, chorus and verse it's kind of short song even for a demo. So what I'd like to do here is just add two more choruses at the end to finish out this song. And we do this by playing with the song sections which we looked at earlier. And on paper this would seem pretty easy to do, but there are a couple of pitfalls that you have to be aware of and I like to run you through a couple of those now.

As we saw earlier, in order to create a new section we tap the plus button here, that take us to the Song Section menu and we currently have Section A which is just that 1 bar intro, Section B which is the first verse, Section C which is the chorus and Section D which is the second verse. Now what I want to do is add two more choruses to the end of this song, so that's actually Section C, so I'll select that, you can see it gets highlighted here on the screen, and I want to duplicate that. Now the first thing I run into here is it's asking me do I want to Modify the Jam Session Song.

If you recall earlier, part of this song is recorded using Jam Session where I was playing the bass and Todd was playing the synthesizer. So what's it's telling me here is if I change the arrangement of the song I'm no longer going to be able to connect to that same Jam Session, I'd have to create a new one and continue playing with that one, but that's okay in this case, so I'll just tap OK. So once again, I've got Section C selected, I'll tap Duplicate, and now I have Section E, it's 8 bars because Sections C was also 8 bars. But let's take a look at what happened here. Let's make sure we're looking at all the sections though.

Notice this gap in here that was introduced. I wanted the chorus to go flush up against the end of the second verse there, but now we have this gap. Let me tap Undo and see what the problem is here. Notice this synthesizer part is actually going about one measure beyond the end of the second verse. Let me get the playhead out of the way here so I can tap the Song Section button. Notice that Section D is 9 bars right now. This extra measure is a result of the Jam Session we recorded the synth with. It basically gave us one extra measure to finish playing and then hit the Stop button.

So instead of being locked into the original 8 bars GarageBand just added 1 more bar. So I'm going to switch that back to 8 bars and you can see now everything is perfectly flush with the end of that section of the song. Now I can go back in the Song Sections, I'll select Section C again and I will Duplicate it once more, and there it is. You can see everything is now lined up. And make we're looking at all sections one more time.

Now on screen this looks pretty clean, but in fact I've actually introduced yet another problem. Let me solo up the synth once. One of the unique characteristics of MIDI or synth performances is that all the information about the note being played appears at the beginning of that region when that note is first pressed. Let's go and look at this instrument once. Now like the regular keyboard--you know we can play it, but we also have the Pitch and the Modulation wheel, which in this case the Modulation wheel for these instrument actually acts as sort of a Volume control.

The Pitch and Modulation information is all included when you hit that note. So if you listen here once, notice if I have my playhead right here in the middle of this first region and I'd tap play. You don't hear the synth. I have to take my playhead all the way back to the beginning before that note is first pressed and now when I tap play-- (music playing) --is when I here it. Now I'm going to let this play all the way through to this first split where the chorus begins. (music playing) So you notice that drop in level.

So by duplicating the chorus we forced GarageBand to split the region right where that chorus begins and we've actually lost the Modulation information that told GarageBand how loud we wanted that original instrument to be played. So if I go back to the chorus that we tapped on at the end, you'll hear the same problem. And again, since I'm in the middle of a region you won't hear anything playing until we hit the new region. (music playing) So the volume is just way too low and there's really no way in GarageBand in the iPad for me to adjust the individual volume of these different regions.

Now let me show you workaround for this. First I'm going to just undo that chorus copy one more time, so my synth line is all one continuous region now and the volume is how I need it to be, in fact let's just show that. (music playing) Okay and we don't hear the synth until the note starts here at the chorus. (music playing) But you can see now the volume actually shows up here in the volume meter. (music playing) So let me show you the workaround. I am going to select this track and tap Merge.

Now normally Merge is used to merge two or more tracks together, this is sometimes called bouncing. GarageBand only supports 8 tracks total for any project. So if you were in a situation where you'd used up all of your tracks and you want to get one more track in there, you'd have to select two or more tracks and then merge them together. So for example, maybe in this song I would merge the Drum Kit and the Tambourine together just so I have all the percussion on the same track. But one important thing to keep in mind about that is you want to make sure the relative volume levels of the tracks you're merging together are the way you want them to be in the final mix.

Because once you merge tracks together there is no way to independently adjust their volumes after that. But in this case I'm just going to keep the Lotus Pond, the synthesizer track selected on its own and I'm going to tap Merge. Now GarageBand is going to duplicate this entire project for me so just in case I accidentally merged tracks together, I can still go back to the original projects where they're not merged together. But as you can see I now have an audio recorder track and this is actually my synthesizer track, and yes you can see my voice talking because the microphone is picking it up. But notice that this is now a purple or Real Instrument Region; it's no longer a MIDI or Synth region.

I now have waveforms for this entire track. It still sounds exactly the same as it was performed, but now I can have my playhead anywhere in that region and I'll be able to hear the synth right away. (music playing) Now the reason I did this is now that it's a real waveform, all the information about that sound is saved throughout that waveform. I don't have to worry about pitch and modulation information being saved at just one section of that region and possibly being cut off. So now finally, I can come into the Song sections and like me you will probably always be moving the playhead instead of tapping the Song Section button because it's so easy to miss.

So let's drag that back and try again, and one more time, there we go. All right, so now again I am going to select Section C which is my chorus and this time everything should be fine. We'll duplicate that, there's Section E, it's 8 bars you can see the waveform just gets duplicated there, it made all the splits. And you know what I'm going to duplicate it one more time; I'll just Duplicate Section E since it's the same thing. And now I have two choruses at the end of my song. Just make sure I am looking at all the Sections. So let's just listen to those points where I made the two new sections.

(music playing) The synth is actually too loud now. (music playing) So there is our first copy. (music playing) Let's move forward a bit here. (music playing) And then it ends.

So I'm pretty happy with this arrangement now. Now it does sound like it could use a fade out at the end because it ends so abruptly, but I'll talk about that among other things in the next movie on mixing our song.

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iPad Music Production: GarageBand

30 video lessons · 10286 viewers

Garrick Chow
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