Drummer is a brand new feature in GarageBand for Mac that allows you to choose dynamic virtual drummers to accompany your song. There are many customizable options for this feature, including drumming style, drum kit, and complexity. This video tutorial discusses how to use Drummer in GarageBand to create drum tracks in a whole new way.
If you're a song writer, you might be used to using Garage Band to create demos of the songs you write. And in the past, if you weren't a drummer, but wanted to add a beat to your song, you had the options of either loading up a drum track and tapping out parts by hand using either your computer keyboard or a MIDI keyboard, or you could browse for and drag in pre-recorded drum loops that best matched the style you were going for. But that all changes now that a brand-new feature called simply, Drummer, has been added to Garage Band. Let's create a new empty project to take a look at it. Notice one of the options here is Drummer, so I'll select that and click create.
So that creates a Drummer track and it adds two regions to the track. I'm going to turn off the counting metronome for this example. Now, these are an entirely new kind of region to Garage Band. They're neither audio regions, nor are they MIDI or softer regions. These are regions that dynamically change based on the settings you apply. At the bottom of the window is where we find the Drummer settings. Drummer is a feature that comes directly from Apple's professional audio editing workstation, Logic Pro 10, and with very few exceptions, the one here in Garage Band is nearly identical to the version found in Logic.
The Logic version contains a couple more ways to finesse and customize the drums you're adding, but as you're about to see, you still have a ton of customization options available here in Garage Band. Basically, Drummer is a tool for adding realistic drums to your projects, which you can highly customize to fit with your song. So you no longer have to rely on canned drum loops. With Drummer, you can instead choose a drum part's level of complexity, and which drums or percussion parts are being played. You can easily change the feel of each Drummer region so you can have different parts for verses and choruses and so on.
So let's take a look at how this works. I'll start with having the first Drummer region selected. With it selected, we can come down here to the Drummer editor. If you don't see the editor, just make sure the editor is open. And I'm just going to close the library for a moment so we can see the entire editor. And from this menu, we can choose the style of music that best matches the song we're recording. We can choose rock, alternative, songwriter and R&B. Now each style contains two or more virtual drummers, each with his or her own name.
When you first install Garage Band, it only comes with one drummer, Kyle, found under the rock style. Now when you choose another drummer, you'll be given the option to purchase and download all the other drummers. The good news is that if you pay for the in-app download, it's a one-time fee that gets you all the extras including not just the drummers, but also hundreds of additional loops and instruments you can use with your projects. You might have noticed in previous movies when I had the loop browser open, I still have little download buttons in the corner, as well as in the library here, we also saw a download button.
But I've already downloaded all the drummers into this copy of Garage Band before I started recording this movie. Now also be aware that if you do want to download all the extras, the download weighs in at over eight gigabytes, so make sure you do have storage space available. So, you select drummers by first picking a style, and then clicking a name. Clicking that drummer's headshot allows you to choose from the other drummers in that style. Now the drummer you pick sets the style for the entire track. You can only have one drummer track per project, and you can only choose one main drummer.
So I'm going to start the track playing and as I switch drummers, you'll hear the style change. (drum music, various styles) Now you might have noticed that each drummer has a text description letting you know a little more about the style of the selected drummer.
You might have also noticed that selecting the drummers frequently changes the kit type that's being used, and if I open up the library you'll notice when I select other drummers, the drum kit type changes. So if you find a drummer you like but you don't like the sound of the kit, you're free to select another kit while maintaining the drummer you selected. (drum music, various styles) But keep in mind that like the drummer, you can only have one kit selected for the entire track.
Let's go back to the rock style and choose Kyle again, just in case you're following along with me and you haven't installed the other drummers. So once you select your drummer and kit, which again effects the entire track, you can start customizing the performance of each Drummer region. The settings you adjust here in the rest of the editor window apply to the region you have selected. Notice when I click different regions, the settings down here change. So let's keep the first region selected, and let's start by looking at this grid area here in the editor.
Here I can either click around, or just drag this yellow dot to adjust the performance in terms of loudness and complexity. Notice it runs from simple to complex on the horizontal axis, and loud to soft on the vertical axis. So for example, maybe in this first region of my song, I want the drums to start with a simple beat and a little quieter. To preview this, I'm going to click the play button here in the editor, which will automatically loop the selected region. And that gives me all the time I need to adjust the sound without having to manually move the playhead back to the beginning of the region up here.
And you'll be able to hear the difference as I move the dot around. (drum music) Notice when I'm doing this that the loudness axis isn't just about changing the volume, but also the performance. When I drag it to the bottom of the grid, you'll notice that the snare part goes from a snare hit to a side-stick sound, and that the high-hat goes to more of a closed sound. (drum music) And when I drag up, the drums open up a lot more.
(drum music) So that's how this performance grid works. To the right of that, you can also specify which drums are being played. For example, maybe instead of a high-hat in this region, I want the drums to be heavier on the rack and floor toms. Now it sounds like this. (drum music) So you can trun the different subsets of drums on and off, and that includes the ability to choose a percussion instrument, like a tambourine, a shaker, or hand claps.
I'll select the tambourine. Now each subset of drums also has its own complexity slider. So for example, I could make the tambourine part more complex, take it all the way up to three, without effecting the performance of the other drums. So I'll start it at one, and we'll listen to what happens when I change it. (drum music) So I just turned the toms off there so hopefully you could hear the tambourine a little bit better.
Now if I wanted to change the tom pattern, I can increase its complexity, too. (drum music) Or I can just switch back to high-hat. (drum music) Now on the far right of the editor we have two dials. The fills dial is for determining how often fills are played. And the swing dial is for dialing in how much the feel of the song will stray from the straight beat.
I'll play the region again and I'll adjust the dials so you can hear the difference. (drum music) There was a fill. (drum music) There's another fill. (drum music) And another fill. Drag it all the way down. (drum music) And now I have a much straighter beat. (drum music) And you can actually see the region changing as I move these. (drum music) Here comes a fill.
(drum music) Now let's change the swing. (drum music) So as you can see, it's possible to come up with some radically different-sounding drum parts just by moving some dials and sliders. Now on the left of the performance grid are some presets. Selecting a preset changes the grid and other settings to the right.
Basically all the region-based settings. This can be an easy way to quickly try out some different feels, or you can use any of these presets as a jumping-off point, and then continue customizing the sound from there. (drum music) And again, I want to stress that everything from the presets list to the right are region-based settings and they only apply to the currently selected region.
When I select the second region in the track, I see that its settings are different. And that's what makes it possible to have so many different-sounding sections in a song. This way, you can design your drum parts for verses, choruses, bridges and other parts of your song very easily. If necessary, you can hold down option and drag out a copy to another part of the track if you want to repeat a section, or just to create a region to change into a different part. You can also trim and loop Drummer regions, just like any other region in your project.
Now one other way to effect the sound of the entire track is to open up the smart control panel. Here we have a mixer, compressor, and effects dials to tweak the levels of each drum, and the overall compression and effects. There's also an EQ pane for adjusting the frequency levels of the entire kit. So for example, I wanted more kick out of the kick drum, I might drag the lower frequencies up a bit. (drum music) I'll get more into the smart controls a little bit later.
Now also, if you use Garage Band's arrangement track, and we can do this by going to track, show arrangement track, and this is where you can create markers to indicate the different sections of your songs, like so. If you use this track, Drummer will automatically detect those sections, and then create separate regions for each section. Now to show you this I'm just going to close this project. I don't really need to save it. And I have a project on my desktop that I'll open.
And this is the Magic Garage Band project I exported from a previous version of Garage Band. But notice that it has sections. Intro, verse, chorus, and so on. I'm just going to mute the current drum track, and I'll add a Drummer track. And you can see just like that, it's automatically split into sections that I can now customize.
(fully put-together music track plays) Change the chorus that's coming up. (fully put-together music track plays) So it really is very easy to come up with these complex and great-sounding drum parts.
Now lastly, let me show you one more thing about Drummer. I'm going to delete all the regions out of the Drummer track so it's empty. Now if you ever do this either on purpose or by accident, you'll probably quickly notice that there isn't an obvious way to create a new Drummer region. Now one way would be to delete the entire Drummer track, and then create a new one, which will give you the two default regions, but alternately you can hold down the command key on your keyboard and place your mouse over the Drummer track. That gives you this pencil tool, and then you can click to create a new region.
And just do that for each region you want to create. Once you have regions again, you can alternately hold down option to drag out another copy of that region then you can shorten or loop regions as you like, and select any other region to customize it with the controls down here. So that's the new Drummer feature now found in Garage Band. It's an incredibly fun and useful tool for adding great-sounding custom drum parts to your Garage Band projects.
Note: You must have upgraded to OS X 10.9 Mavericks to download the latest version of GarageBand, but both updates are free.