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Take Control of Recording with GarageBand '09

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134 pages

This book explains how to use GarageBand '09 to create musical compositions with vocals, drums, guitars, MIDI keyboards, and even the kitchen sink! Seattle composer Jeff Tolbert shares his GarageBand know-how and years of recording experience to help you get the most out of your existing gear or purchase new equipment that fits your budget and style. You'll find out how to plan a recording session, and you'll learn real-world recording studio techniques, such as using a microphone effectively, getting the best sounds from your gear, applying effects like a pro, using the new Electric Guitar track and the new stompbox effects, recording multiple tracks at once, and fixing mistakes easily. Two example songs demonstrate many of the techniques discussed.




Bonus! Linked-in audio lets you listen to examples while you read about them, and a glossary covers many recording-related terms. Remember us when you're famous!



Questions you'll find answers to include:

  • How do Real Instrument and Software Instrument tracks differ?
  • How can I make my GarageBand recordings sound less lame?
  • How do I best record a vocalist?
  • How do I use the multi-take recording option?
  • I don't have an electric guitar. Can I still use the new Electric Guitar track?
  • How do I use the new stompbox effects and how are they different from the old GarageBand effects?
  • How can I change an effect over time in a track?
  • What should I know about punching in?

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Check for Updates Make sure you have the latest information! TidBITS Publishing Inc. Take Control of v1.0 Recording withGarageBand Jeff Tolbert Help Catalog Feedback Order Print Copy $10 '09 Table of Contents READ ME FIRST 4 Updates ................................................................................ 4 Basics................... 4 What’s New in This Edition....................... 6 INTRODUCTION 7 QUICK START TO RECORDING WITH GARAGEBAND 8 STRATEGIZE YOUR RECORDING SESSION 10 CHOOSE A RECORDING METHOD 12 Software Instruments.............................................................12 Real Instruments...................................13 Pros and Cons of Different Recording Methods ...........................14 RECORDING SOFTWARE INSTRUMENTS 16 Learn about MIDI Gear................................16 MIDI Keyboard Options..........................17 Set Up Your MIDI Keyboard....................19 Record Your Tracks................................22 Edit the Performance..............................31 RECORDING REAL INSTRUMENTS 35 Consider Your Equipment........................................................35 Set Up Your Input Device40 Set Up to Record...................................44 FIX A SECTION 82 Punch In...............................................82 Fix Timing and Pitch...............................................................84 Change Tempo......................................85 UNDERSTAND GARAGEBAND EFFECTS 87 Find the Effects.....87 Dynamic Effects ....................................88 Filter and Equalizer Effects......................91 Time-Based Effects................................95 Distortion Effects...97 Automate Effects...99 2 LEARN GARAGEBAND TIPS AND TRICKS 101 Double-Track Vocals and Guitars ...........................................101 Make Your Own Loops..........................102 Turn Your Guitar into a Bass.................103 Combine Two GarageBand Projects in One Song ......................104 LISTEN TO THE SAMPLE SONGS 107 The Software Instrument Song..............................................107 The Real Instrument Song....................109 LEARN MORE 114 Web Sites...........................................114 Books................................................115 Magazines..........115 Videos115 APPENDIX A: GARAGEBAND MIDI DRUM SOUNDS 116 APPENDIX B: TROUBLESHOOTING 118 Improving Performance ........................................................118 Audio Delays.......................................121 GLOSSARY 122 Using the Glossary...............................122 Terms ................................................122 ABOUT THIS BOOK 130 About the Author.................................................................130 Author’s Acknowledgments...................130 Shameless Plug...131 About the Publisher..............................131 Production Credits...............................132 COPYRIGHT AND FINE PRINT 133 3 Read Me First Welcome to Take Control of Recording with GarageBand ’09, version 1.0, published in April 2009 by TidBITS Publishing Inc. This book was written by Jeff Tolbert and edited by Jeff Carlson, with musical backup from Geoff Duncan. This book teaches you how to record real and software instruments, how to work creatively, and how to turn your recordings into a great-sounding piece of music in GarageBand ’09 (part of Apple’s iLife ’09 suite), also known as GarageBand version 5. Copyright © 2009, Jeff Tolbert. All rights reserved. If you have the PDF version of this title, please note that if you want to share it with a friend, we ask that you do so as you would a physical book: “lend” it for a quick look, but ask your friend to buy a new copy to read it more carefully or to keep it for reference. You can click here to give your friend a discount coupon. Discounted classroom and Mac user group copies are also available. UPDATES We may offer free minor updates to this book. To read any available new information, click the Check for Updates link on the cover or click here. On the resulting Web page, you can also sign up to be notified of updates via email. If you own only the print version of the book or have some other version where the Check for Updates link doesn’t work, contact us at tc-comments@tidbits.com to obtain the PDF. BASICS In reading this book, you may get stuck if you don’t know certain basic facts about GarageBand or if you don’t understand Take Control syntax for things like working with menus or finding items in the Finder. 4 Please note the following: • Menus: When I describe choosing a command from a menu in the menu bar, I use an abbreviated description. For example, my description for the menu command that activates the metronome is “Control > Metronome,” which refers to the Metronome command under the Control menu. • Path syntax: I occasionally use a path to show the location of a file or folder in your file system. For example, the default GarageBand install puts the GarageBand demo songs in the /Library/Application Support/GarageBand folder. The slash at the start of the path tells you to start from the root level of the disk. You will also encounter paths that begin with ~ (tilde), which is a shortcut for any user’s home directory. For example, if a person with the user name joe wants to install fonts that only he can access, he would install the fonts in his ~/Library/Fonts folder, which is just another way of writing /Users/joe/Library/Fonts. • Finding GarageBand’s Preferences: I often refer to prefer- ences in GarageBand that you may want to adjust. To display the program’s preferences (not to be confused with the system-wide settings found in the System Preferences application), choose GarageBand > Preferences (or press Command-,). Within that window, click a button at the top to display a pane for that category of preferences. Instead of giving detailed directions each time, I refer to each pane using an abbreviated notation such as “go to GarageBand’s Audio/MIDI preferences.” For The Sake of Brevity… You’ll see under GarageBand > About GarageBand that this program is called GarageBand ’09 in general, and that the latest version number (as of this writing) is 5.0.1. For the sake of brevity, I refer to it as GarageBand ’09 when I’m talking about this version and call it simply GarageBand the rest of the time. 5 Listen as You Learn! I occasionally give an audio example by linking to a song at the iTunes Store. You can click the link to connect to the iTunes Store. Then, double-click the song in the album list to play it. WHAT’S NEW IN THIS EDITION I updated this book to cover new features in Apple’s latest upgrade to the program, GarageBand ’09, as follows: • The most significant change to GarageBand, for our purposes anyway, is the new Electric Guitar track. I added a whole new topic, Use an Electric Guitar track (p. 58), as well as additional references to Electric Guitar tracks where appropriate. • In order to simplify the potential confusion around the multiple Real Instrument recording methods, I created a flowchart in Set Up to Record (p. 44). • I added the new stompbox effects several areas of the ebook, including Understand GarageBand Effects (p. 87), and Add some pedals (p. 61). • GarageBand will now automatically monitor your input volume and adjust it as necessary. I added a comment about it in the bullet item about Automatic Level Control (p. 50). • I made small edits here and there to reflect new names or functions for certain GarageBand features and deleted some items that are no longer relevant. • Finally, I updated the screenshots to reflect GarageBand’s new interface. 6 Introduction GarageBand has changed the way Mac users create music. Many of us thought we’d need to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to make decent recordings. Instead, GarageBand makes recording much more affordable. Sure, it doesn’t include some features of higher-end programs, but what it does for the money is simply amazing. Songwriters can make great-sounding demos to play for their bands or prospective record labels. Proud parents can record their children for friends and relatives. Those of us who never fulfilled our rock-and-roll fantasies in our youth have another chance. GarageBand’s recording process is easy and intuitive. Even if you have no experience in a recording studio, this book will get you working like a pro in no time. Whether you’re recording using a MIDI keyboard, an electric guitar, or with a vocalist using a microphone, you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to get great-sounding tracks. I show you bucket- loads of tricks you can use to get the best sound possible out of your equipment. Even inexpensive keyboards, microphones, preamps, and guitars will give you wonderful results. One thing to keep in mind: GarageBand isn’t meant to compete with top-of-the-line recording software such as Pro Tools or Logic Pro. The truly demanding user will discover its limitations. GarageBand can’t control audio as well as its high-end brethren, it gulps down processor cycles like they were candy corn, and you can’t apply effects to groups of tracks at once, among other things. But for the typical songwriter, home recording artist, or weekend rock-and-roller, GarageBand has more than enough mojo to get your ideas out of your head and into the real world. I assume that you’re somewhat familiar with GarageBand. If you’ve played with it a little already, you’ll probably feel right at home. If not, I suggest my other book, Take Control of Making Music with GarageBand ’09, to learn fundamental aspects of the program, such as arranging songs and using loops. 7 Quick Start to Recording with GarageBand GarageBand offers a variety of ways to record music. Software Instruments use sounds generated by your Mac, using prerecorded samples or models of different instrument types; Real Instruments require you to plug an external sound source (such as a microphone) into your Mac; Electric Guitars also requires an external source and gives you access to GarageBand ’09’s new amp models and stomp- boxes. To use this Quick Start section, choose the heading that describes your situation or your interests. Then, follow its suggestions. Plan ahead: • Choose the best way to structure your recording time in Strategize Your Recording Session (p. 10). • Decide whether to use a Software Instrument, a Real Instrument, or an Electric Guitar in Choose a Recording Method (p. 12). Record Software Instruments: • Do you have the equipment you need? Learn about MIDI Gear and find out what’s required for using Software Instruments (p. 16). • Review Set Up Your MIDI Keyboard for information and trouble- shooting on getting connected (p. 19). • Check out Record Your Tracks to get your ideas into the computer (p. 22). • Tweak your parts so they’re just right in Edit the Performance (p. 31). Record Real Instruments: • Learn about microphones and electric guitars, and find the best (and cheapest) way to get a signal from your guitar or microphone into your Mac in Consider Your Equipment (p. 35). • Set Up Your Input Device to get yourself connected and ready to record (p. 40). 8 • Get a killer sound out of your guitar or bass, eliminate hum, and record a great performance; read Use a Real Instrument track (p. 45) and Use an Electric Guitar track (p. 58). • Learn about microphone placement and how to best use a mic to record vocals, instruments, or anything else in Record with a microphone (p. 62). Rerecord a section: • Make a mistake? Have no fear. Check out Fix a Section to learn how to repair errors, including how to correct pitch and timing (p. 82). Understand effects: • Add cool effects to your song to make it shine. Read Understand GarageBand Effects to learn, for example, the difference between a compressor and a phaser (p. 87). Go backstage with GarageBand tips and tricks: • Learn GarageBand Tips and Tricks such as making a guitar sound like a bass, turning your tracks into loops, and more (p. 101). Check out the sample tunes: • I created two songs to highlight many of the techniques described in the book. Listen to the Sample Songs and read descriptions of how I made them (p. 107). 9 Strategize Your Recording Session GarageBand lends itself to many uses. You can make a quick and dirty demo of an idea you had in the shower, or you can record your latest rock opera to sell on CD. Your intentions for a recording dic- tate how you set up and record. In a nutshell, imagine a continuum with speed, ease, and cheapness on one end, and quality of sound and performance on the other. Your plans for the final recording should determine where you stand on this continuum; here are some examples: • Speed: If you want to quickly plug in and record a brilliant song idea you just had, speed is of the essence. Sound quality is second- ary—use whatever is handy and easy, and don’t worry about small mistakes or imperfections. • Quality: If you’re making a final recording for a CD or an iMovie project, you want quality. You should use the best equipment you have and spend the time necessary to get everything right. Right doesn’t necessarily mean perfect—often slight imperfections are what give a song its life and excitement—but you don’t want wrong notes or an electrical buzz ruining your song. Work carefully to get good sounds and strong signals. • Middle of the road: If you’re recording a song demo to play for your band or working out ideas for a more finished recording later, you lie in the middle. You want the recording to sound nice so you can approximate the final product, but it need not be the final pro- duct: small imperfections are okay, and spending three days to get the perfect guitar sound makes no sense. Your ultimate goal determines how you use this book. If you’re recording Software Instruments using a MIDI keyboard, your goal helps decide how many takes you record and how carefully you edit notes and imperfections. If you’re recording vocals, a high-quality recording means spending more time placing microphones and preparing your space for the best tone and fidelity, and recording 10
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