Join Garrick Chow for an in-depth discussion in this video Connecting a keyboard controller, part of GarageBand Essential Training.
Now, let's take a look at how to connect the MIDI keyboard to your Mac for using GarageBand. The first step, of course, is figuring out which one to buy. If you're only planning on using a MIDI keyboard to play music with GarageBand, you can buy just about any keyboard on the market today. The only decisions you really have to make are how many keys you want the keyboard to have, and whether you want the keyboard to be a synthesizer. Calling a keyboard a synthesizer simply means that the keyboard is capable of producing its own sounds without being hooked up to a computer or MIDI device. The synthesizer has its own bank of sounds to play and either speakers or an audio output jack through which to play the sounds.
Keyboards that can't produce sounds on their own and are just used to trigger samples in programs like GarageBand are called controllers. Actually, GarageBand itself can be referred to as a synthesizer because it has built-in sounds. Now, professional level MIDI capable software you might have heard of, such as Reaper, Digital Performer, or Apple's own Logic Pro, can receive MIDI data as well as transmit it. Meaning, the software can be used to play music back to a MIDI device. So, if you wrote some music in Digital Performer, you could play it back through the keyboard using the keyboard's built-in sounds.
GarageBand, on the other hand, can only receive MIDI data and can't control any devices. So, if you plan on using your keyboard exclusively with GarageBand, all you need is a controller-type keyboard. Now, you might want to check your local music shop for some MIDI keyboards to see what's available. Generally, any MIDI keyboards these days will work with GarageBand. But to make things easier on yourself, you should make sure to pick up one with a USB interface, which pretty much all new MIDI keyboards have. If the keyboard is older and only has a MIDI interface, you'll need to buy some additional hardware in the form of a MIDI to USB adapter to make it work with your Mac.
To be positive that they keyboard you're getting will work with your Mac, you might want to just go directly to Apple's online store, store.apple.com, and from here you can click Shop Mac, Mac Accessories, and look for Music Creation. And you can check out the keyboards they have here. Now, as I record this movie, Apple carries just two keyboard models on their site. They're both from Line 6. And they just have a different number of keys available on them. Now, they also have several different audio input devices, cables, and microphones here that you can use with GarageBand. If this selection is a little too limited for you, you might want to check out other sites like Musician's Friend, sweetwater.com, or zZounds.
And I'm not endorsing any of these sites in particular, these are just some of the ones I usually check when I'm looking for gear. Once you've picked up your keyboard, plug it into your Mac and turn it on. GarageBand should recognize it right away, and you're ready to start playing. I've got a MIDI keyboard here, so I'm just going to plug it in. Once you've connected your keyboard, you can select or create a softer instrument track and choose any instrument to play with your keyboard. I can play the default track here, or I can create a new track to play any other instrument. So currently, I have the piano, Steinway Grand Piano, selected for this track.
So, I should be able to hear that instrument if I play some notes. So, if you can hear the instrument when you play, and if you also see a little dot lighting up when you strike the keys, and that'll be up here in the upper right-hand corner, you should be ready to play and record. There's that thought. Also here in this display, and also new to this version of GarageBand, it now shows you the name of the chord you're playing. So, there's a Csus2. G major. B-flat major. Asus4.
And dropping to an A major. Sometimes I just like mashing the keyboard to see what chord structure gets displayed. I don't get out much. Now, if for some reason the keyboard doesn't show up when you plug it in, you may need to install additional drivers, which either came with your keyboard on a CD or can be downloaded from the manufacturer's website. But that's unlikely if you have a recently manufactured keyboard. And in most cases, you shouldn't have any trouble at all connecting and playing, through GarageBand, any MIDI keyboard that was manufactured within the last couple of years.
- 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 the Share menu
- Controlling GarageBand remotely from an iPad