Join Garrick Chow for an in-depth discussion in this video Understand the GarageBand layout, part of GarageBand Essential Training.
- [Instructor] Before you start making music in GarageBand, it's important to first take some time to get to know the interface, especially if this is your first entry into the world of recording audio on your Mac. Now if you've previously worked on a GarageBand project, that project should open up when you open GarageBand. Otherwise you'll see this window, and from here you can create new projects, open existing projects, access the built-in music tutorials, or purchase additional lessons. I'll talk more about some of these other options in upcoming movies, but for now I'm just gonna double-click the Songwriter project, and that opens up a new project which, in this case, has been set up with some basic tracks that should be useful for songwriters.
And I'll just use this as an example to walk you through the GarageBand layout. For the most part, everything in GarageBand happens in this single window that we see here. This window is organized into several different areas and additional areas, and sometimes separate windows, can be open when you need them. But for the most part, you'll be spending the majority of your time in this single window. If you've worked with other audio editing applications, some of these buttons should look familiar. At the top of the window for example, we have the transport controls, and that's for controlling playback.
Rewind, fast forward, stop, play, and record, all work the way you would expect them to. The button here on the far right is the cycle button, which is used to repeat a selected selection of your project over and over again. As we'll see later, this is useful when you need to review a specific section, or when you want to record multiple takes of a part you're recording. To the right of that we have this display area. This is where you find information, like which bar and beat of your project you're currently on, the tempo, or beats per minute of the entire project, the key, and the time signature.
So if I click the play button, you'll see the bars, beats, and division displays change as the song plays. (solo drum beat) So now we're at bar three, beat one. This display area can be toggle between a few different states. Right now we're seeing the default beats and project display, but if I click over here to the right, I can choose beats and time, which replaces the tempo, time signature, and key display with the time code of where my playhead is in the song.
So I'm currently five seconds into the song. And this is the playhead right here. So when I click play again, you'll see the playhead move, and the time in the display indicates where we are in terms of the bar and beat, and the time. (solo drum beat) or if you want you can just display beats, or just the time. Depending on how you're working in your project, you might wanna see different info at different times. I'll switch back to beats and project for now.
To the right of the display, we have a set of three buttons. The first one is the tuner. In order to use it I need to first select a real instrument track, meaning a track for an instrument that can be tuned, for instance like this guitar track. Now I can click that tuner button and that opens up in its own window. And you're free to move this around as needed. I don't actually have a guitar connected right now, but we'll take a closer look at tuning in an upcoming movie. Next to the tuner, we have the counting and metronome button.
And these are tools for helping you come in at the right time, and to keep the beat while you're recording. We'll see these in action later as well. Continuing to the right, we have the master volume slider, which is for adjusting the overall level of your project. (solo drum beat) And you'll notice that you see the level meters inside the master volume slider while the song is playing, so you can make sure your project's volume isn't too loud or too quiet.
To the right of that, we have three buttons that toggle up in different panels, here on the right side of the main window The first one opens up the notes panel for jotting down any notes or reminders about the project to yourself. Next we have the loop browser, where you'll find a huge collection of pre-installed musical snippets that you can drag into your projects. You can use loops to do everything, from adding little touches of different instruments and rhythms to your projects, to creating complete songs assembled entirely from Loops. We'll be looking at loops extensively in the next chapter. And third button here opens up the media browser.
And this is where you can access the music, sounds, and videos stored on your computer that you might wanna add to your GarageBand projects. Notice that you can only have one of these three panels open at any time. Let's jump back to the upper left-hand corner here and take a look at these buttons. The first one here is the library button, which opens and closes this panel here on the left. The library panel is contextual. What you see in it depends on what you have selected. Currently I have this Natural Strum track selected, which is a guitar track, so you can see Acoustic Guitar selected here.
If I click Modern Stack, which is a bass guitar track, I see bass guitar amps that I can select and modify. And with the drummer track selected, I see the various built-in drum sets I can use. So that's the library button. Next to that is the quick help button. When that's enabled, rolling your mouse over most objects brings up info letting you know what that object is used for. For example I can roll over this new track button here to see what that is, or over the track icons themselves.
Notice it also says to press "Command + /" for more info. Doing that opens up the GarageBand help file for the specific feature your mouse is currently over. I'll just close that for now. And I'll turn off the help button. The next button is to toggle the smart controls, open and closed here at the bottom of a window. I'll talk more about the smart controls throughout this course, but basically this gives you access to the settings of each instrument, amp, or effect you're working with, as well as a separate EQ for each track. And this last button here opens up the edit pane, which is used for editing selected recordings.
I'll go ahead and close that for now. I'll also close the library as well. So, the last area is this main area of the GarageBand window. This is the track pane. It contains these horizontal rows, referred to as tracks, and each track represents an individual recording. When you play back your song, each track is played simultaneously. Generally, the order in which the tracks appear is the order in which they were recorded, but you can easily change the order by dragging them up or down. You can see that each track has its own set of controls.
Some tracks have more or fewer controls, depending on the type of track it is, but they each have the same basic controls. First we have this speaker with a slash through it. And this is the mute button. Clicking this button mutes that track so that it can't be heard. It's useful to click this button when you wanna quickly hear what your song sounds like, without a particular instrument in the mix. So if I were to play the track, I can then mute the drums. And bring them back.
Next to mute, we have the solo button, and clicking this button mutes every other track but this one. Notice when I click that all the other tracks mute buttons start flashing. So this is commonly called soloing the track. And you can mute and solo multiple tracks, which you may wanna do while mixing your song. For example, there might be a time when you just wanna hear the percussion tracks, so you would solo them together. If you wanna mute or solo multiple tracks in GarageBand, you can click them individually, like so, or if the tracks you wanna mute or solo are in order with each other, you can click the mute or solo button on the first track, and then keeping your mouse button down, drag down and touch each track you want to mute or solo.
This also works the same way in reverse to unmute or unsolo. So this is a good reason to keep similar or related tracks together in your project. It makes it much easier to mute or solo them together. Next to the mute and solo buttons, on what are called real instrument tracks, we have the input monitoring button. And that's used when you wanna be able to hear the instrument you're recording through GarageBand as you're recording it. For example, if you're recording an electric guitar, you wanna be able to hear what you're playing if you're using GarageBand's built-in amps. If you're recording a real amp with the microphone, you'll probably be able to hear your guitar out of the air and you won't need to hear it through GarageBand as you're recording.
You can toggle the input monitoring on and off with this button. Next we have the volume slider for the track. Each track has its own volume control, which lets you determine how loudly or softly the track is played back in relation to the other tracks. This is a crucial part of mixing your project. And lastly we have a pan dial, which allows you to decide whether the track comes primarily out of the left speaker, or the right speaker, or equally out of both in a stereo mix. You can turn dial by clicking on it and dragging up or down. You can double-click both the pan dial and the volume slider to manually input a value.
Or if you want to set them back to their default locations, just hold on the Option key on your keyboard, and click either control. Alright, so that's a quick overview of the GarageBand interface. Again, we'll be spending a lot more time in all of these areas throughout this course, but now you should have a decent understanding of the lay of the land and we can move on from here.
- 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