Using GarageBand to Set the Tempo and Enable Count-In
Setting tempo, enabling count-in and metronome, and dragging in a drum loop
We've seen how to use Magic GarageBand to create a song from some preset genres to play or sing over, and we've seen how to experiment with Apple Loops to build up a song from scratch. We could take either of these approaches and continue from there within this course to build out a final song, but instead I'd like to create an acoustic instrument project. I am going to name it Easier to Find, that's the name of my song, save it in my Music directory. And my plan is to start with the metronome and a basic drum loop for a rhythm track and try to get a solid take of the acoustic guitar part.
So I need to set the Tempo of my song, which I know is going to be 154 BPM, and the Time Signature is 4/4 and the key of the song is A major. So I may as well set that here and click Create. Once I have the acoustic guitar part recorded, I'll start to over-dub additional real instrument tracks like bass, electric guitar and vocals, or maybe some additional percussion. For most of us, when we are recording music, it's helpful to play to a click or a metronome. GarageBand allows you to do this with its Metronome feature, which is located right here.
Whether you are playing back or recording, if the metronome is turned on, it will play quarter notes at the tempo your project is set to. You can always turn the metronome off or on at will by clicking this Metronome button, or by pressing Command+U. I find that I usually like to use the metronome as I lay down some of the initial rhythm tracks of a song, like bass or drums, or even my first guitar track, and then eventually end up turning it off, allowing the rhythm tracks I've already recorded to be my guide.
You do whatever works for you. The metronome can be on, it can be off. It doesn't get recorded. It's just a helpful way for you to keep in time with your song. GarageBand's default behavior is to start recording from the current position of the playhead when you press R. Sometimes that's inconvenient, especially if you are running your own recording session; it's nearly impossible to press Record and play on the first beat of the song at the same time. You may need a little breathing room. There is an easy way to have GarageBand count one measure of time for you before starting to actually record, and that is the Count-In feature.
Just select Count-In from the Control menu, or press Shift+Command+U, and watch what happens when I press R to record now. I am at bar 18. Actually, let me get exactly on bar 18. I am going to press R, the playhead jumped back one measure, counted four, and then began recording at 18. That gives me a full bar of time to get my pick in my hand and get ready to play, sort of start to feel the tempo, and then play on b eat 1. Okay, so I'll clear this track out. I am going to press Command+A to select all.
It happened to be on this track, so it's going to select every audio region in that track. Press Delete to erase those and press Return to put my playhead back at the beginning of the song. Now I need to lay down the drum loop to play to because as helpful as they are, for me, metronomes don't provide much in the way of feel. It might be 100% in time, but I want a little groove to play my acoustic guitar part to. I've installed the Rhythm Section Jam Pack so you may not have all these loops, but don't worry. If you don't have that jam pack installed, the loops I am using in this course will be included in the exercise files.
I am going to go to the Loop Browser by pressing Command+L, and I'll use the filters to dive down to Rock/Blues and Kits. And I can either scroll down, or I happen to know that the family of loops I am looking for starts with the word syncopated, so I can just search for that here and easily find them. S-y-n-c, Enter, bang! Here's my whole family of loops. I happen to be into this Syncopated Pop Drumset 27, so I am going to look for that here and drag that into my timeline and put it at bar 2 in a new track.
So here's my drum kit. I don't like the word, kits, for title, so I am going to click on the name to rename it. I am going to click in the upper-right corner and drag this loop out to about bar 40, but wait, what happened? I can't go any further. See this little triangle up here? This is what GarageBand thinks is the end of the song. This is something you can click and drag and position anywhere you want. That way if you were doing a mix down, you could have the song automatically end here, even if you have information after it, sort of a way for you to say, "this is my end for right now." So you can actually move that out manually, throw that out about 43. And if you want to zoom out to get a little more view of your timeline, so you have some space to work feel free to do that, and I am going to move this loop out to 40.
I am going to press Return to put my playhead back at the beginning and play. And when I do, listen for the four beats of metronome that will play before the drums start, and then when the drums come in, you'll hear the metronome and the drums playing together. You may have to listen carefully. For me, I'd like to hear the drums and the metronome, so I know where the time is, but I am really paying attention to the drums, and the metronome is helpful for my count in. (music playing) Metronome is nice to have with the syncopated part as well because the metronome is a very square beat on 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, even if the drum set is playing a very syncopated part on upbeats and offbeats.
So it's kind of nice to have both of those playing here. So I am going to pres Return one more time and put the playhead back to the top, and I am ready to start tracking the acoustic guitar part for this new tune.
Setting tempo, enabling count-in and metronome, and dragging in a drum loop provides you with in-depth training on Audio + Music. Taught by Todd Howard as part of the GarageBand '11 Essential Training
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