Join Garrick Chow for an in-depth discussion in this video Browse the loop library, part of GarageBand Essential Training.
- [Instructor] If you don't play an instrument, but you still want to create music, you can take advantage of GarageBand's large library of loops. Loops are prerecorded snippets of music that were performed by professional musicians and there are more than 1,000 of these snippets included in GarageBand. Each loop is designed so that its end point flows seamlessly into its starting point, meaning that you can endlessly cycle or loop them for as long as your song requires. Even if you do play an instrument, loops are perfect for those times when you need an instrument you can't play or just don't have, like a cello or a xylophone.
Sometimes it's just easier to use loops. If time is a factor, you'll probably find it much quicker to pick a drum loop than to set up real drums and mic them all. Another centrally important feature of loops is that even though they were created in certain keys and tempos, GarageBand makes it so that any loop you drag into your song, instantly matches the key and tempo you selected when you created the song. This means that you can combine just about any loop with any other loop and you can pretty sure that they'll sync up almost perfectly. Now of course, you still have to make sure that you're combining loops that mesh well together, but a lot of that is about personal taste and preference.
So let's start by creating a new project, and since we have to select a track type, I'll choose Software Instrument, and I'll just close the Musical Typing keyboard that opens up. I'll also go ahead and close the library and the smart controls just so we have more room here. Now, before we start adding loops to our song, let's take a look at how you browse through them in GarageBand. GarageBand, again, has thousands of loops included with it so finding what you need can be a bit daunting unless you know how to efficiently browse through your selections.
In fact, the initial installation of GarageBand doesn't include all the loops that are available. This is to save hard drive space. If you want to acquire more loops, go to GarageBand, Sound Library, and choose Download All Available Sounds. You might not want to do this, though, if you're using a Macbook or Macbook Pro, which generally come with smaller hard drives and the entirety of the loop library can take up several gigabytes worth of space. But you can decide for yourself how important it is to have access to all available loops.
Now, to look through your loops, you need to open up the Loop Browser and you can do this either by using the Loop Browser button here or by pressing the O key on your keyboard. O as in open. Now, there's several ways to browse through your loop library. You can see we have a list of loops in the main portion of the browser area. The loops that are grayed out are the ones I haven't downloaded to by computer yet. You can click the download button next to these loops to download them individually instead of downloading everything. At the top of this browser, we have the Loop Packs menu. The default here is to display all genres of loops, so basically, you can see every available loop when this is selected.
At the bottom here, I can see I have 5,435 loops installed in my copy of GarageBand. Your number may differ. If you wanna narrow down the scope, you can click this menu up here, and select a specific genre. For example, vintage breaks. And I can see that I have 100 loops available in this genre. I'm gonna switch back to All Genres. Below that menu, we can filter loops by instrument, genre, and descriptors. Clicking each one of these gives you these buttons showing different items within that main category, so selecting Instrument, gets me several types of instruments I can browse through, like electric piano, and now I can see all the loops that have electric piano.
I have 46 of them. I can click the X button to clear these filters. If you want, you can hold the Command button to select multiple categories at the top simultaneously. So for example, maybe I want an organ sound that's also distorted. I can see the loops that fit that description now. Now, depending in the display resolution of your monitor, you may or may not see all of the category buttons in the top half of the browser here. If necessary, you can drag the border between these two sections to adjust the size.
You can also drag the left border to widen the loop browser or to decrease its width. Now, dragging too far to the right will close to the loop browser, but you can just toggle it open again. I'll click the X button again. So let's say I wanna find a guitar loop. I'll start by clicking Instruments and then selecting Guitars. And now the list of loops are all guitar-related loops. Notice that along with the loop's name, we also see its length in beats, which can help you find longer or shorter loops, depending on what you're looking for, and each loop also has a Favorites checkbox. And I'll talk more about that in a moment.
And you might have noticed that when I click the Guitar button up here, several of the other buttons in the loop browser got grayed out. That's because the buttons in the browser can work in combination. When you click an instrument button, all the other button categories into which that instrument falls remain available. So when I clicked Guitar, all the instrument buttons got grayed out, but I can still click on types of guitars like acoustic guitar and electric guitar. I could also click the Genre or Descriptor buttons to further filter the choices. Notice that with each button I click, fewer and fewer loops are displayed down here.
This is because I'm narrowing down the loops that fit all of these categories. And I can take a listen to any loop here by simply clicking on it. (classic guitar playing) (acoustic guitar playing) (southern rock guitar playing) (strummed acoustic guitar playing) Now, as I'm browsing through loops, I come across one I particularly like, even if it's one that I might not want to use in the song, but that I might want to use some time, I can check its Favorite box.
That'll make it easier for me to find the loop later. If I reset my loop browser and then I click the Favorites button, I'll see the loop sitting in here. So when you go through the loop browser on your own and start listening to loops, and it can be pretty addicting when you start out, if you come across something you think you might use later, check its favorite box so you have an easy way of browsing through loops that you liked. Another way to narrow down your loop choices is to use the Scale menu here. If I select bass loops, I can see there are 531 items to choose from.
But if I know that my song is in a minor key, I can tell GarageBand to only display loops in a minor key. And now I'm down to 381 items. So from the Scale menu, we can choose from Any, Minor, Major, Neither or Both. And once I've made my selection here, I can continue to narrow down my choices by clicking other loops categories like maybe Jazz and Relaxed and Melodic. And now I'm down to six items.
(funky bass guitar playing) And I'll reset that. And I'll set this back to Any. Now, another way you can search for loops is by using the Search field. This is really useful if you're not quite sure what category a particular instrument might fall into. Like for instance, a bell. Or maybe you're looking for a particular genre that doesn't have a button like Reggae.
And we can see some reggae loops there. Or maybe you're looking for a loop, but the only thing you can remember about it was that it had the word exotic in its name. So that's the search field. Now, one last thing about the button view here in the loop browser. The buttons are arranged in a pretty logical fashion with the drum loops being grouped together, the guitar loops grouped together and so on, but it's your copy of GarageBand, so if you wanna move thing around so they make more sense to you, it's easy to do. First of all, you can grab any button and drag it on top of any other one to switch their places.
Another option is to right-click or Control + click on a button, which opens up this contextual menu and from here, you can select what you want the button to be. So you can reassign existing buttons. So for example, if I want a button specifically for browsing animal sounds for some reason, I can come in here to Sound Effects, find Animals, and now the button says Animals. And when I click that, I can find all the animal sound loops. (crickets chirping) And if you totally mess up your buttons, all you need to do to go back to the way things were is to open up Preferences, go to Loops, and here, click Reset next to Keyword Layout.
Now, the other way to navigate loops is by switching from this button view to column view. This view is useful if you find it difficult to navigate the button view. In column view, you can start by clicking on a category, like All, which essentially gives you all the choices that appear in button view and more and you can select from genres, instruments or moods. You can also find your favorites here as well. But basically, just continue selecting to the right until you find the loops you want. Now, in column view, you can't combine search terms like guitars and melodic like you can in button view, but column view is for those times when you want to browse the loops in a nice, organized fashion.
And you can still specify what scale you want the loops to be in, and you can still use the search field. I mostly use the button view myself so I'm gonna switch back to that. All right, one last thing about browsing for loops. Depending on the key of your song, you may not be seeing certain loops listed in the loop browser. That's because by default, GarageBand doesn't display loops that aren't within two semitones of the key of your song. And what I mean by that is, as I mentioned earlier, GarageBand automatically transposes the keys of loops to match the key of your song. So if you song is in C, but the loop is in say, D, it will transpose the loop to C.
And by default, it only does this with loops that are close enough to the project's key, because transposing a loop more than two semitones might give you weird-sounding results. So it hides those loops from appearing in the loop browser. Thus, for example, if I select Guitars again, we see that there are 242 items available. But if I come up to the display up here, and I switch the key to say, A flat major, now there are 273 items available. And you might notice that this makes some buttons unavailable and makes other previously grayed-out buttons available.
Now if you wanna be able to see all loops, regardless of how close to your song's key they're in, you can go to Preferences to Loops, and here uncheck Filter For More Relevant Results. Now I'm suddenly up to 8,645 loops. But be prepared to possibly here some weird-sounding loops if you happen to pick one that has to be transposed really high or low, relative to your song's key. Also while you're in loop preferences, you might wanna check Display Original Tempo and Key, which, as you can see, reveals columns for the tempo and key the loops were recorded in.
This can help you to determine whether to sample a loop, because again, if it's too far away from your song's key and tempo, it might sound a little strange when you drag it into your project. Just gonna turn that off for now and turn Filter For More Relevant Results back on, and I'll close Preferences. So that's a rundown of how to browse for loops in GarageBand.
- Creating a new project
- Adding tracks
- Working with loops
- Recording software instrument tracks
- Getting real sounds into your Mac
- Recording and compositing multiple tracks
- Arranging, editing, and mixing your project
- Sharing your music with others