Table of Contents (Version 3.0) Read Me First .................................................2 Introduction ...................................................6 Quick Start to Recording with GarageBand .........8 Strategize Your Recording Session .................. 10 Choose a Recording Method ........................... 11 Recording Software Instruments..................... 14 Recording Real Instruments ........................... 33 Fix a Section ................................................ 69 Understand GarageBand Effects...................... 73 Learn GarageBand Tips and Tricks .................. 82 Listen to the Sample Songs............................ 87 Learn More .................................................. 94 Appendix A: GarageBand MIDI Drum Sounds ... 97 Appendix B: Troubleshooting.......................... 99 Glossary .................................................... 103 About This Ebook ........................................ 110 Featured Titles ........................................... 114 ISBN: 1-933671-12-2 READ ME FIRST Welcome to Take Control of Recording with GarageBand, version 3.0. This ebook covers GarageBand 3.0, though most of its contents also apply to GarageBand 1 and 2. (If you’re using an earlier version of GarageBand and want to read a previous edition of this ebook, click the Check for Updates button on the cover to downgrade to an earlier version.) Even if you’ve experimented with GarageBand’s audio loops and basic mixing features, you haven’t really tuned into the program until you’ve plugged in a guitar, keyboard, or other instrument and laid down some live tracks. This ebook covers all aspects of recording in GarageBand, from setting up your equipment to recording and editing tracks. This ebook was written by Jeff Tolbert, edited by Jeff Carlson, and published by TidBITS Electronic Publishing. NOTE This ebook covers recording music with GarageBand. If you’re looking for information about recording and creating podcasts, please see Andy Affleck’s ebook, Take Control of Podcasting on the Mac (http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/podcasting-mac.html). To get in touch or learn more about the Take Control ebooks, you can: • Contact us by sending email to [email protected] • See About This Ebook to learn about the author and publisher. • Read the fine print on the copyright page. • Find answers to general questions by reading the FAQ at http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/faq.html. • Buy another ebook by checking out our Featured Titles or by visiting http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/catalog.html. The price of this ebook is $10. If you want to share it with a friend, please do so as you would with a physical book, meaning that if your friend uses it regularly, your friend should buy a copy. The “Help a Friend Take Control!” button on the cover makes it easy for you to give your friend a discount coupon. Page 2 We may offer free minor updates to this ebook. Click the Check for Updates button on the cover to access a Web page that informs you of any available or upcoming updates. On that page, you can also sign up to be notified about updates via email. Onscreen Reading Tips We carefully designed the Take Control ebooks to be read onscreen, and although most of what you need to know is obvious, note the following for the best possible onscreen reading experience: • Blue text indicates links. You can click any item in the Table of Contents to jump to that section. Cross-references are also links, as are URLs and email addresses. • Work with the Bookmarks tab or drawer showing so that you can always jump to any main topic by clicking its bookmark. • In Adobe Acrobat Pro version 6 or 7, set your preferences to view Web URLs in a Web browser: choose Acrobat > Preferences, switch to the Web Capture pane, and choose In Web Browser from the Open Web Links pop-up menu. • The Glossary defines a number of GarageBand-related terms, which also appear in the text of the ebook in blue, italic formatting. You can click blue, italic text to move to the glossary page that defines it; you can then return from the Glossary to where you were reading using a menu command or keyboard shortcut, as noted in Table 1. Table 1: How to Quickly Navigate to a Previous Point in This Ebook Viewing Software Menu Command Keyboard Shortcut Adobe Acrobat 6 View > Go To > Previous View Command-Left arrow Adobe Acrobat 5 Document > Go To > Previous View Command-Left arrow Preview Go > Back Command-[ • Find more tips in the Take Control FAQ on the Web. Page 3 NOTE Listen as you learn! I occasionally give an audio example by linking to a song at the iTunes Music Store. You can click the link to connect to the iTunes Music Store. Then, double-click the song in the album list to play it. Printing Tips Although our layout is aimed at making online reading an enjoyable experience, we’ve made sure that printing remains a reasonable option. Please review these tips before you print: • Use the Check for Updates button on the cover to make sure you have the latest version of the ebook and to verify that we don’t plan to release a new version shortly. If you want to commit this ebook to paper, it makes sense to print the latest possible version. • Don’t throw out your PDF after you print! You must click the Check for Updates button on the cover to get future updates. The link must be accessed from the cover of your PDF. • For a tighter layout that uses fewer pages, check your printer options for a 2-up feature that prints two pages on one piece of paper. For instance, your Print dialog may have an unlabeled popup menu that offers a Layout option; choose Layout, and then choose 2 from the Pages per Sheet pop-up menu. You may also wish to choose Single Hairline from the Border menu. • When printing on a color inkjet printer, to avoid using a lot of color ink (primarily on the yellow boxes we use for tips and figures), look for an option to print entirely in black-and-white. • In the unlikely event that Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader cannot successfully print this PDF, try Preview; several readers have solved printing problems by using Preview. Page 4 Basics In reading this ebook, 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. Please note the following: • Path syntax: This ebook occasionally uses a path to show the location of a file or folder in your file system. Path text is formatted in bold type. For example, Tiger stores most utilities, such as Calculator, in the Utilities folder. The path to Calculator is: /Applications/Utilities/Calculator. 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. • 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. • Finding GarageBand’s Preferences: I often refer to preferences in GarageBand that you may want to adjust. To display the program’s preferences (not to be confused with the systemwide 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.” Page 5 What’s New in Version 3.0 I updated this ebook to cover new features in Apple’s recent upgrade to the program, GarageBand 3.0, as follows: • I added the Tascam US-122 to the section that describes setting up your input device, and I added a note explaining why I switched from the Mbox to the US-122. • I added a more detailed discussion of the Volume slider in Set up your track. • The Track Info window is now integrated into the main GarageBand window and is called the Track Info pane. I changed this throughout the ebook. • GarageBand now has the capability to import one song into another. I describe the process in Combine Two GarageBand Projects in One Song. • I added screenshots of the finished example songs to make the descriptions easier to follow. See Listen to the Sample Songs. • Finally, I updated many of the screenshots to reflect GarageBand’s new interface changes. Page 6 INTRODUCTION GarageBand is quickly changing 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 on our computers. Instead, GarageBand makes recording much more affordable. Sure, the program 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 rockand-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 ebook will have 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 bucketloads 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 is not 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. The audio quality isn’t as good 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 around in GarageBand a little already, you probably know all you need to feel right at home with this ebook. If not, I suggest that you read my other ebook, Take Control of Making Music with GarageBand (http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/garagebandmusic.html), to learn fundamental aspects of the program, such as arranging songs and using loops. To purchase the ebook at a discount, use the link on the Web page that appears when you click the Check for Updates button on the cover of this ebook. Page 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 an electric guitar or microphone, into your Mac, in order to generate electrical signals that GarageBand digitizes as sound waves. 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. • Decide whether to use Software Instruments or Real Instruments in Choose a Recording Method. Record Software Instruments: • Do you have the equipment you need? Learn about MIDI Gear and find out what’s required for using Software Instruments. • Review Set Up Your MIDI Keyboard for information and troubleshooting on getting connected. • Check out Record Your Tracks to get your ideas into the computer. • Tweak your parts so they’re just right in Edit the Performance. 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. • Set Up Your Input Device to get yourself connected and ready to record. • Get a killer sound out of your guitar or bass, eliminate hum, and record a great performance; read Record an Electric Instrument. • Learn about microphone placement and how to best use a mic to record vocals, instruments, or anything else in Record with a Microphone. Page 8 Rerecord a section: • Make a mistake? Have no fear. Check out Fix a Section to learn how to repair your errors, including how to correct pitch and timing. 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. 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. Check out the sample tunes: • I created two songs to highlight many of the techniques described in the ebook. Listen to the Sample Songs and read descriptions of how I made them. Page 9 STRATEGIZE YOUR RECORDING SESSION GarageBand is tailored to many possible 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 the particular recording dictate 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 secondary—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 a buzzing guitar 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 product: 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 ebook. If you’re recording Software Instruments using a MIDI keyboard, your goal helps decide how many takes you record of a particular track and how carefully you edit notes and imperfections. If you’re recording vocals, a high-quality recording means more time spent placing microphones for the best tone and fidelity, and more takes to make sure you’re in tune and singing at your best. Some techniques in this ebook pertain to all uses, while others apply only to more finished recordings. No matter where you stand on the continuum, you can benefit from a little knowledge of audio recording techniques. Your projects will sound much better as a result. Page 10 CHOOSE A RECORDING METHOD GarageBand offers two recording methods: Software Instruments and Real Instruments. The casual listener may not be able to tell the difference, but they involve two completely different ways of working. Software Instruments Software Instruments use MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) data rather than actual sound waves to create a track. MIDI is a digital language used to connect synthesizers, computers, and other electronic instruments. MIDI information includes details about the note played, its velocity (or volume), and any vibrato or pitch bending that was applied. NOTE One catch with Software Instruments is that you can record only one Software Instrument track at a time. Even though GarageBand now offers multitrack recording, that applies only to Real Instrument tracks. You can’t plug in more than one MIDI device at one time. MIDI is a flexible format that can open up many options that would otherwise be unavailable to you when recording tracks. For example, not many people own drum sets. Even if you do, you may not have three or four microphones available to record a professional sounding drum track. Maybe you want a flute in your song. Do you have a flute? You could probably rent one, or put a sign up at the local music school asking for flute players, but it would be so much easier to play the part on your keyboard. MIDI makes all this possible. NOTE When you record a MIDI part, the resulting performance is called a MIDI sequence. GarageBand’s playback may sound like an audio recording, but it’s actually just a series of instructions. Unlike a recording made to an audiotape, a MIDI sequence is totally editable after the fact—you can correct mistakes and change notes long after you performed them. Real Instruments With all this talk of MIDI and its versatility, you may think recording live audio is totally passé. It’s not. In fact, it’s preferable in many circumstances. You just can’t simulate the subtlety and nuance of a live Page 11 guitar track with a MIDI keyboard. Live tracks have a certain, well, live quality to them that just can’t be faked. Real Instruments require several things. First, as you might expect, you need a real instrument. This can be something traditional like a guitar, a piano, or your voice, or it can be something more mundane like a box of cereal or a wine glass. The second thing you need is a way to get the sound of your instrument into GarageBand. For this you need one of two things—a microphone or a pickup. Microphones convert sound waves in the air into an electrical signal that can then be amplified and fed into GarageBand. Pickups, on the other hand, respond to vibrations in a solid substance—guitar strings, the bridge of a violin—and convert those vibrations into an electrical signal. SIDEBAR WHAT’S A PICKUP? In the simplest terms, pickups are electronic devices that enable musicians to “plug in” instruments; usually, they’re plugged into amplifiers to make the instruments louder, but they can also be plugged into mixers or other devices—even directly into your Mac! You’ll encounter several different kinds of pickups; the best known are magnetic pickups, usually seen on electric guitars and basses. The pickup creates an electric field around the strings, and the strings disturb it when they’re played, generating an electric signal. Piezo (pronounced “pee-ay-zoh”) pickups are also common on stringed acoustic instruments: they contain crystals (usually quartz, barium lead, or barium titanate) that generate an electric signal when put under stress. Other types include optical and transducer pickups, and even MIDI pickups that convert played notes to MIDI data. Although pickups are a tremendous convenience, each type has its strengths and weaknesses for recording and/or performance, especially when trying to capture a “true” acoustic tone. Magnetic pickups can buzz and don’t capture an acoustic sound; piezos tend to “quack;” transducers feed back; and MIDI pickups are notoriously finicky. Table 2, on the next page, summarizes some of the pros and cons of Real and Software Instruments. Ideally, both are available: a MIDI keyboard for certain tracks, and a microphone and/or instrument with a pickup for others. Page 12 Table 2: MIDI vs. Recorded Audio Recording Method MIDI (Software Instruments) Live Recording (Real Instruments) Pros Cons • Wide variety of instruments available. • Ability to add, edit, and delete individual notes, as well as note volume, timing, and duration. • No noise added during recording. • Tempo can be changed without affecting quality. • MIDI files take up significantly less hard disk space. • No need to move mics around to find the best sound. • Notes can be “drawn” rather than played on a keyboard. • Ability to record anything you want, even non-instruments. • Varying mic choice and placement results in endless variation in sound. • Record up to eight tracks at once, with the right equipment. • Ability to capture all the subtleties of a live performance. • Tracks sound more exciting, more alive. • Real Instrument tracks are generally more economical in processor use than Software Instruments, allowing you to use more tracks. • Certain instruments not available, at least in GarageBand. • Easy to over-edit tracks, making them sound sterile and uninteresting. • You can record only one MIDI track at a time. • Impossible to capture all the subtlety of a live performance. • Software Instruments use more system resources than Real Instruments. • MIDI recordings often sound “fake” or “wrong,” even when recorded by professionals. • You must possess the instrument in question and be able to play it. • Getting a good, clean recording of certain instruments can be difficult and time consuming. • Many mistakes can be fixed only by rerecording the section. • Any noise or hum that occurs during recording is on the track forever. • Tempo can be changed, but your audio quality may suffer. • Audio tracks can quickly eat up hard disk space. Page 13 RECORDING SOFTWARE INSTRUMENTS Software Instruments are great tools for testing out ideas and working on your compositions, even if you plan on rerecording some of the tracks later with real instruments. And don’t let your guitarist friend give you grief—there’s absolutely nothing wrong with creating a song entirely from Software Instruments (see The Software Instrument Song, later in the ebook). Learn about MIDI Gear When it comes to MIDI, you must choose between a more expensive and more sophisticated MIDI instrument, and a cheaper and less flexible MIDI controller. Here’s an overview of each option: • MIDI controller: A MIDI controller may look like a full keyboard, but it doesn’t make sound itself or have any built-in instruments. Most MIDI controllers feature piano-like keyboards, but you can find MIDI controllers that act like wind instruments, guitars, and drum kits, too. Musicians use MIDI controllers to control other MIDI-capable devices such as synthesizers, samplers, drum machines, and Macs—sometimes concurrently. Since a MIDI controller can generate only MIDI data and not sounds, it’s similar to a computer keyboard, which can’t do anything but send data that your computer interprets as letters and numbers. Likewise, a MIDI controller generates only information such as what key you pressed and how hard you pressed it. Many modern MIDI controllers connect directly to your Mac via USB, simplifying the setup process and saving you money. • MIDI instrument: A full MIDI keyboard, synthesizer, or other instrument is capable of generating both an audio signal and MIDI data. You can record the audio signal by plugging a 1/4" cord into the line out jack on the back of the instrument. GarageBand treats this signal as it would any other Real Instrument. On the other hand, if you connect the instrument using a MIDI cable, GarageBand treats the instrument like it was a MIDI controller generating MIDI data. To use this data, you need to create a Software Instrument track just as you would with a MIDI controller. Page 14 NOTE If your controller or keyboard doesn’t feature a USB jack, you’ll need to buy a USB-MIDI interface. These are available fairly cheaply and are quite easy to set up. MIDI Keyboard Options MIDI keyboards and controllers come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny one-octave units to giant behemoths with full piano keyboards and keys that feel like real ivory. Here are some available options: • Unweighted action: Also called synth action, these devices feature simple plastic keys that function merely as on/off switches. Some people prefer unweighted action because they can play faster without key resistance. • Weighted action: A more sophisticated option that feels like a real piano. The keys feel heavy and offer resistance as you play. A third option, semi-weighted, is also available. It offers some weight and resistance, but not as much as an actual piano. • Pitch bend: Many keyboards include a wheel, joystick, or ribbon that can raise or lower the pitch of a note. Pitch bending can mimic electric guitar solos and trombone slides, among other sounds. • Modulation: A modulation wheel or joystick is generally used to add vibrato to a note. Many instrumentalists add vibrato to long sustained notes—the modulation wheel is an easy way to mimic this on a keyboard. • Sustain: Many keyboards accept a plug-in sustain pedal that functions just like the sustain pedal on a piano. • Aftertouch: Some more expensive keyboards respond to the pressure of your fingers after the note is initially struck. This can affect how the sound changes on longer notes and how the sound fades once the key is released. However, not many controllers offer aftertouch, and it’s irrelevant for our purposes because GarageBand doesn’t currently support it. • Touch sensitivity: Also called velocity sensitivity. The keys respond to how softly or aggressively you play. Most software instruments are designed to take advantage of velocity. See the sidebar on the next page for more details. Page 15 Some Software Instruments don’t use velocity at all. Organs are a good example—the keys on most real organs are simple on off switches and don’t respond to the nuances of a performance. VELOCITY GarageBand’s Software Instruments respond to how you press the key on your MIDI controller, which is known as velocity. The faster you press a key, the louder the note sounds. This gives a performance more verisimilitude by mimicking real-world instruments. (I say “faster” rather than “harder” because velocity technically measures speed. When you strike a key harder you’re also pressing it faster, and the key sensors measure speed. However, since we tend to think of pressure and not speed when playing, I’ll use the terms “harder” and “softer” from now on when referring to velocity.) In some cases, the actual tone of the note changes when you press a key harder. Create an Electric Piano track and listen to the notes get brighter and spikier when you play more energetically. In other cases, the playing style changes when you strike the keys harder. When you play the Steel String Acoustic guitar softly, you hear a standard acoustic guitar sound. If you play more forcefully, you begin to hear the strings buzzing against the frets, as they would on a real acoustic guitar. If you hit a note at the maximum velocity, GarageBand plays a two-fret slide up to the note you struck. Another fancy thing about the acoustic guitar generator is that as you move between notes, the software throws in high-pitched string squeaks to add more reality to your performance. Very cool. NOTE If you’re not ready or willing to buy a MIDI keyboard, a couple of options are available. You can use GarageBand’s built-in keyboard (Window > Keyboard, or Command-K) but it’s less than ideal (though you can enlarge the window now). You must play notes by clicking the mouse, which makes it difficult to end up with anything musical, and all the notes play at full velocity. I prefer Musical Typing (Window > Musical Typing or Shift-Command-K), which allows you to use your keyboard as a sort of low-rent, one-and-a-half-octave piano keyboard. The cool thing about it is that it includes rudimentary velocity, pitchbend, and modulation control, so you can actually impart some musicality to your playing (but with difficulty). Page 16 Set Up Your MIDI Keyboard Setting up a MIDI controller or keyboard is fairly simple under Mac OS X. As long as you have updated drivers for your device and everything is plugged in properly, you shouldn’t have much trouble. Follow these steps to set up your MIDI keyboard for the first time: 1. Download the latest drivers for your keyboard or interface from the manufacturer’s Web site. Follow the installation instructions. 2. Plug the keyboard or the USB-MIDI interface into your computer. 3. Restart your Mac. 4. Open /Applications/Utilities/Audio MIDI Setup. Click the MIDI Devices tab to display that pane (Figure 1). Some keyboards include built-in support for Mac OS X—if an icon appears with the name of your device, you’re all set. Skip ahead to Record Your Tracks. FIGURE 1 The MIDI interface icon with two arrows, one facing up and the other down, represent the MIDI-in and MIDI-out connectors on your keyboard or interface. Page 17 NOTE Even though it’s all one piece of equipment, the Audio MIDI Setup utility may see your USB MIDI controller or instrument as two separate items, one being the built-in MIDI interface, and the other being the actual keyboard you play. In that case, you may need to virtually connect the keyboard to the built-in interface to get a working MIDI connection. 5. Click the Add Device button on the toolbar. A generic MIDI keyboard icon appears. If you like, double-click it to change its icon; this is totally optional and won’t affect performance. 6. Drag from one arrow on the interface icon to the corresponding arrow on the keyboard icon. Do the same with the other. You should now see two virtual cables connecting the keyboard and the interface (Figure 2). FIGURE 2 The interface connected to the virtual keyboard. Your keyboard should now play in GarageBand. Page 18 NoTE Technically, you need to draw only the inbound connection from the keyboard to the interface. GarageBand doesn’t support MIDI out, meaning you can’t control another MIDI device through GarageBand. Therefore, the outbound MIDI connection is irrelevant. 7. Click the Test Setup button, and then play a key on the MIDI keyboard. The MIDI-in arrow on the interface icon should turn red and you’ll hear a “ping.” If you don’t receive any response, try pressing the Rescan MIDI button; quitting and restarting Audio MIDI Setup; or unplugging and reattaching the MIDI or USB cable. I’ve found that MIDI connections can be a bit finicky. After the initial setup, you should only have to plug in your keyboard and start up GarageBand. OOPS If you’re still not getting a signal from the keyboard, check to make sure your speakers are plugged in and turned on. If the steps above don’t work, restart your computer. If that fails, make sure you’ve downloaded and installed the latest drivers for the keyboard. Otherwise, your best bet is to contact the manufacturer or the store where you bought the keyboard. Hardware problems do occur—the first MIDI controller I bought had a bad USB port. Of course it took me two days of reinstalling, restarting, and hair pulling to find this out. Record Your Tracks Once everything’s set up correctly, recording a Software Instrument track in GarageBand is simple. If you’ve followed the procedure in the previous section and you’re getting sound out of the keyboard, you’re 75 percent there. All that’s left to do is choose a sound and hit the Record button. Select a Software Instrument sound Follow these steps to create a new Software Instrument track and assign an instrument sound: 1. Create a new track in GarageBand by clicking the Add Track button (the plus sign to the lower left of the timeline), or choosing Track > New Track (Command-Option-N). Page 19 2. In the New Track dialog that appears, select the Software Instrument tab. 3. Choose an instrument family in the left column and a specific instrument sound in the right column. TIP You can preview the sounds while the New Track dialog is still open. This capability is handy, as it allows you to play your part or simply noodle around until you’re happy with your choice. 4. Click OK to close the New Track dialog. Your new track appears at the bottom of the timeline. Fine tune your instrument Each Software Instrument relies on what Apple calls a generator to make its sounds. You don’t need to settle for the presets GarageBand provides for you. Instead, access each Software Instrument’s generator and tweak its settings to create the exact sound you want by following these steps: 1. Double click the track header (in the Tracks column of the timeline) of the Software Instrument you want to edit. Alternately, click the track to highlight it and choose Track > Show Track Info (Command-I). 2. For the purposes of this demonstration, select Organs in the left column and Classic Rock Organ in the right column of the Track Info pane. 3. If the Details section isn’t showing, click the Details expansion triangle. The first item in the list is entitled Generator. The first pop-up menu selects the generator and the second selects specific presets. In this case, the generator is Tonewheel Organ. NOTE Some Software Instruments use effects for their sound in addition to a generator. Be aware of this as you tweak instrument sounds. You may want to uncheck the effects while you fiddle with the generator. Conversely, you may be able to get the sound you’re looking for by tweaking the effects and leaving the generator alone. Page 20 4. No preset exists for this particular sound, so the second pop-up menu reads Manual. Depending on the generator, you can choose from any number of presets. Some of them share common generators and some are unique sounds (for example, each of the presets in the Guitar category uses different generators, while all the Organs seem to use the same generator and merely vary the settings). Try different presets to hear how they sound. 5. Choose the preset Jazz Organ. Play a little and notice how the tone is a lot mellower now. 6. Click the button with the pencil to open the Tonewheel Organ settings. As you can see, you can edit seven different parameters. Play with the settings until you find a sound you like. NOTE Software Instrument sounds use one of two types of generators. Some use samples of Real Instruments and some are generated artificially using a software synthesizer. The sampled instrument sounds are created using recordings of notes played by the actual instruments they’re supposed to represent. For example, a vibraphone sound is made by recording an actual vibraphone playing individual notes. These recordings are then mapped to the keyboard, so when you play a middle C on your MIDI keyboard, you hear the recorded vibraphone playing a middle C. GarageBand creates synthesized sounds artificially, using an algorithm to generate the tones. This is obviously true of the synthesizer sounds, but it’s also the case for the electric piano, clavinet, and tonewheel organ sounds. They may sound realistic, but they’re actually well written mathematical formulas. Synthesized tones work well for some types of acoustic instruments (like flutes and some organs), as well as for purely artificial sounds like visiting UFOs, or sounds resembling a cross between a duck call and a dentist’s drill. However, sampled tones work better for reproducing most acoustic instruments, like pianos, horns, and drums. Sampled instruments tend to sound closer to their real-life counterparts, but all those samples take up much more storage space than a synthesized tone. Page 21 SIDEBAR THE VOLUME ENVELOPE Some Software Instruments include parameters called “attack,” “decay,” “sustain,” or “release.” Together, these parameters make up what’s called the volume envelope. The volume envelope (sometimes called the ADSR Envelope) determines how quickly a sound reaches its maximum volume and returns to silence. The envelope consists of four parameters: • Attack: The time it takes a sound to reach maximum volume • Decay: The time it takes the initial peak to die down • Sustain: The level at which the note is held for the duration of the key press • Release: The time it takes for the note to fade to silence after the key is released Figure 3 shows one possible volume envelope. Notice how it has a fairly fast attack and a loud initial peak (also called the transient). The note sustains at a lower volume, and once the key is released, the sound fades slowly to silence. FIGURE 3 A sample volume envelope. Page 22 Start with a beat If you’re starting a song from scratch, you probably want a beat to play along with. GarageBand gives you two choices: a drum track or the built-in metronome. The one you choose depends on the song, but I generally prefer a drum track—the rhythm is usually a bit looser and more groovy. The metronome (often called a click track in professional recording situations) is rather stiff, which may affect your performance. NOTE You may not want a beat at all. That’s totally fine. If your piece is acoustic guitar and vocals, there’s no reason to play to a click track if you don’t want to. If you do, you’ll lose some of the spontaneity of your performance. More ambient, environmental pieces generally won’t have much of a beat either. However, if you’re playing a piece that you want to embellish later with drums, percussion, GarageBand loops, and even other instrumental parts, it may be difficult unless you have some sort of rhythm to synch up to. Using the metronome or a drum track helps keep your performance in time with the tempo you set when you created the song; any loops you add later will automatically play at this tempo as well. If you want to use a drum track, the easiest place to start is with a drum loop. Follow these steps to add a drum loop to your song: 1. Click the Loop Browser button, which is marked with a picture of an eye. 2. Click any of the buttons in the second column to choose from the available drum and percussion loops. 3. A list of available loops in that category open on the right. Preview your options by clicking the name of the loop. Click it again to stop it. When you’ve made a choice, drag the loop up to an empty area of the timeline. 4. You can make your drum region as long as you want by clicking the upper right corner of the region and dragging to the right. Page 23 TIP For more on using loops, see my other ebook, Take Control of Making Music with GarageBand (http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/garageband-music.html). If you’d rather use the metronome, toggle it on by choosing Control > Metronome (Command-U). A check mark on the menu indicates that the metronome is active. You can choose whether the metronome plays only when you’re recording or during both playback and recording. Go to the General preference pane to select one of the two options. TIP Another cool trick that makes recording easier is the Count In option. When you choose Control > Count In, GarageBand starts playing a measure ahead of the playhead location, giving you a little time to get ready before you have to start playing. If you’re starting from the beginning of the song, the metronome plays alone for a measure. If the metronome is off, GarageBand sits silently for a measure. Record a track Recording a MIDI track is simplicity itself. Once you’ve chosen a sound, follow these steps to begin recording: 1. Move the playhead to the point where you want to begin recording. If you want to start at the beginning of the song, press the Go to Beginning button (Z). 2. Press the Record button (the round button with the red dot) and start playing. 3. Press the Play button to stop recording. That’s it! TIP GarageBand 2.0 introduced the capability to adjust GarageBand’s velocity sensitivity. Open the Audio/MIDI preference pane and adjust the Keyboard Sensitivity slider. More means GarageBand acts as though you’re playing harder than you actually are; Less does the opposite. This feature is handy if you’re having trouble performing a delicate percussion part or if you want to play a ripping electric piano track. Page 24 Record using a cycle region If you’re like me, there are parts you want to play but you can’t quite get your fingers to be in the right place at the right time. I never took piano lessons as a kid, and I’m just not able to jump around between the chords well. There’s a solution for people like us—we can build up our tracks piece-by-piece using a cycle region: 1. Create a cycle region in the location you want to record. You can make it as long as you want, but it might be easier to keep track of what you’re doing if it’s shorter. NOTE HOW TO CREATE A CYCLE REGION To create a cycle region, click the Cycle button (C) (Figure 4, top). Then, drag within the cycle bar to create a cycle region covering the measures in which you want to record (Figure 4, bottom). FIGURE 4 To create a cycle region, click the Cycle button (top) and drag in the cycle bar (bottom). 2. Break your part into manageable chunks—maybe do the main melody in the first pass, some harmony notes in the second pass, and the bass notes on the third pass. Practice the parts so you can play them easily. 3. Hit the Record button and start playing the first part. When you reach the end of the cycle region, the playhead jumps back to where you started and GarageBand continues recording. 4. On each successive pass, play a different part. GarageBand saves them all in the same region. You can also sit out as many passes Page 25 as you want so you can hear what you’ve recorded. As long as you don’t stop playback, all your passes will be saved. TIP Beware when using this method. If you want a piano part to sound realistic, don’t play too many intertwining parts. Sure, most of us have ten fingers, but we can only use them to do so many different things at once. Unfortunately, if you mess up or decide you want to add more later, you can’t simply press record and continue building up the part. Each time you hit the Record button, GarageBand wipes the cycle region clean and starts from scratch. So don’t stop recording until you’re sure you’re done! If you do decide you’d like to add more to your part after you’ve stopped recording, use the method described in Fix a Section. TIP If you press play to start playing back a cycle region and then press record, GarageBand lets you record a region on top of what’s already there. The new recording covers the existing region, but you can hear them both on playback. This seems to be a bug, so I’m not sure how stable the final result is—but it’s a nifty trick. Recording drum tracks Recording Software Instrument drums is a special case, and requires a little more explanation. Each note on the keyboard controls a different type of drum hit. The usual suspects are there—bass drums, snares, high hats, toms, and various cymbals—as well as more exotic percussion sounds as well—bongos, timbales, claves, bells, and even whistles and snapping fingers. The GarageBand drum kits offer a surprising number of drum sounds. Appendix A: GarageBand MIDI Drum Sounds lists all the sounds found in Rock Kit. Most of the other kits feature similar instrumentation with slightly different timbres. Some of the names may seem bewildering to non-drummers—it may help to play along on the keyboard so you can connect the sounds with their names. The easiest way to create a drum track is to build it up gradually using a cycle region (described previously), or to record different drums on different tracks. With both of these methods you can concentrate on Page 26 getting each piece right, although I much prefer the latter method, as it affords a lot more flexibility. To record a drum part using different tracks, follow along here: 1. Choose File > New (Command-N) to create a new song. 2. Choose Track > New Track (Command-Option-N) to create a track. 3. Select the Software Instrument tab. In the first column, choose Drum Kits, and in the second column pick Hip Hop Kit. 4. Toggle the metronome on by choosing Control > Metronome (Command-U). Make sure a checkmark appears next to the menu item. Toggle Control > Count In on as well. 5. Press the Record button (R) and play the closed high hat (F#1 on your MIDI keyboard) at each tick of the metronome. Play for at least 4 measures and then press the spacebar to stop recording. 6. Double-click the region you created to open the Track Editor. Click and drag to select all the high hat notes, and press the Fix Timing button. I often use Fix Timing on high hat parts so they stay in time. Close the Track Editor by clicking the Track Editor button (labeled with scissors). 7. Select the Hip Hop Kit track and choose Track > Duplicate Track (Command-D). Make sure the new track is selected and toggle the metronome off. 8. Hit the Go to Beginning button (Z) and press Record again. Play the bass drum (the C1 key) on the first and third beats, and the snare (the D1 key) on the second and fourth beats of each measure. (Yes, this is a boring drumbeat, so feel free to elaborate if you like.) Here’s an MP3 file of the high hat part, the simple drumbeat, and then a more intricate beat: drumtutorial.mp3. Page 27 TIP If recording your own drum parts is not one of your abilities, use loops instead. GarageBand ships with plenty of drum loops, and plenty more are available in Apple’s Jam Packs and other add-on packages. Since drums are purely rhythm instruments, they’re much harder to single out, and it’s unlikely anyone will even know you used a loop. (Not that there’s anything wrong with using loops!) By far the most difficult aspect of drum parts is staying in the groove when movement is restricted to your fingers. It’s easier to play drums when you can use your whole body. Concentrate on the beat when you’re playing and practice your part several times before you record. NOTE You can buy MIDI drum pads that allow you to actually play a drum part with sticks. They aren’t cheap, but they make recording drum parts significantly easier and more natural. TIP I can usually get a good feel for a few measures, but then I lose it. The following method works well for longer drum parts: 1. For each separate part, record as much of it as you can, but stop when you feel yourself losing the groove. 2. Listen back to what you just played and identify the place where you lost the groove. Delete everything after that point. 3. Duplicate the track and move the playhead back a few measures before this deletion point. This gives you a head start so you can get into the groove again. 4. Start recording the new track. Again, play as much as you can until you lose the groove again. Go back to Step 2 and repeat until you’ve recorded the whole section. Page 28 SIDEBAR GET YOUR GROOVE ON A groove can be an elusive quarry. In its simplest terms, a groove consists of two things: rhythm and accent. Rhythm describes where the notes are placed in time, and accent expresses their emphasis and volume. If you’ve recorded your own drum parts and they don’t groove or flow, consider these guidelines: • A drum machine plays its beats perfectly in time. It’s exact and precise and sounds extremely sterile. A real drummer, on the other hand, toys with the rhythm, playing slightly ahead of or behind the beat to create a more natural flow—a groove. Typically, high-energy songs (such as Never Recover by The Cardigans) have some beats and accents slightly ahead of the beat, while some laidback, relaxed songs (such as Silence Kit by Pavement) have certain beats and accents slightly behind the beat. • The other thing a drummer does more effectively than a drum machine is to accent various beats to create an ebb and flow to the rhythm. Listen to how Stewart Copeland of the Police makes a drum part pulse and groove, especially in the high hat. When you create your own drum parts, remain conscious of these elements, especially when you edit your beats. But the most important thing to remember is to feel the grove rather than think it. Edit the Performance You’ve recorded your track, but something’s not quite right. Maybe you’ve made a couple of mistakes, a few of the notes are too quiet, and one section just doesn’t work the way it should. Do you have to rerecord the entire thing? Absolutely not! A fantastic thing about Software Instrument tracks is how easily you can change your parts. Edit individual notes Often, the part you recorded will be mostly correct, with only a few notes out of place. You may have hit the wrong note, played a note slightly out of time, or hit one key too hard in the middle of a quiet passage. All these mistakes can be fixed easily without having to rerecord anything. Here’s how: 1. Select the region you want to modify and click the Track Editor button (Command-E). If you don’t see the region you selected, Page 29 double-click it in the timeline. The Track Editor jumps to the beginning of this region. 2. In the Track Editor, each note you played on the keyboard is represented by a gray or black bar (the shade of gray represents the velocity level). Click the bar you want to edit. It turns green, and GarageBand plays the note so you can tell if it’s the right one. TIP To help find the exact note, play the song with your finger poised over the spacebar. When you hear the note you want to edit, quickly tap the spacebar. The playhead should stop just after that note. 3. Your choices now are as follows: • Trigger a different note: Drag the bar vertically. Again, GarageBand plays the notes as you move the bar so it’s easier to tell when it’s in the right place. • Trigger the note at a different place rhythmically in the track: Drag the bar horizontally. If the Snap to Grid feature is enabled (Control > Snap to Grid, or Command-G), the note snaps to the ruler grid at various increments. This increment depends on how closely you’re zoomed in the edit window. On the other hand, if Snap to Grid is turned off, you can position the note wherever you want. TIP Notes are designed to snap to their current position, making especially small movements irritatingly difficult. Try the following: 1. Visually make a note of the bar’s location. 2. Move the note somewhere else and release the mouse button. 3. Move it back to where it was, but keep the mouse button pressed as you move it into position. This allows you to make tiny rhythmic adjustments. Don’t get carried away: try to fix only notes that sound out of place, regardless of whether or not they look out of place. Page 30 • Erase the note: Press Delete. • Shorten or extend the note: Place the pointer at the end of the note. It will change to the resize pointer (a vertical line with a right-facing arrow). Drag the end of the note to change its duration. • Automatically line up the note up with the nearest grid line: Press the Align to [note value] button in the left side of the Track Edit window. This snaps all the selected notes to the closest grid increment. The grid defaults to 1/4 notes, but you can set the grid to anything from whole notes (1/1 note, or one note equals one measure) to 1/64 notes, as well as other options. TIP It may be tempting to select all your notes and align them to the grid. Presto: perfect timing! Right? Avoid this temptation! There’s no quicker way to make your song sound sterile and boring than to make every note land in exactly the right place. My recommendation is to use this feature occasionally on individual notes or small groups of notes that you’re having trouble with. I much prefer moving the notes closer to the grid lines manually, though. That way they retain a little bit of that natural feel, and it doesn’t sound like your song was performed by R2-D2. NOTE You can also edit your notes using musical notation. To do so, click the Notation View button (marked with a musical note) in the region column of the Track Editor. For much more on using notation view, see my other ebook, Take Control of Making Music with GarageBand (http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/garagebandmusic.html). • Change the velocity of the note: Move the Velocity slider to make the note louder or softer. You can also enter a number between zero and 127 in the Velocity text field. • Edit MIDI controller data: To edit modulation, pitchbend, or sustain data, choose the appropriate data type from the Display pop-up menu. You can move the control points, delete Page 31 them, and copy and paste them. To create a new control point, hold down the Command key and click. To delete a control point, simply select it and press Delete. TIP Beginning with version 2.0, Apple added two new types of MIDI data: Expression and Foot Control. Expression can be used to create volume swells and is perfect for things like strings and woodwind instruments. Many instruments in Apple’s Jam Pack 4: Symphony Orchestra (http://www.apple.com/ilife/garageband/jampacks/) take advantage of the Expression and Foot Control functions. You can use Pitch Bend to control Expression and the Modulation control to select between different playing styles—short (staccato) and long (legato) notes, trills, tremolo, and more. Now you can perform your latest concerto right in GarageBand. NOTE Made a mistake and don’t know how to fix it? See Fix a Section, later. Page 32 RECORDING REAL INSTRUMENTS Recording Real Instruments in GarageBand is a snap. Once your equipment is set up and you understand a few basic principles, it takes a matter of minutes to lay your ideas onto a track. But some preparation is required to get to that point. THE MOST One of the guiding principles of audio recording is to always get the IMPORTANT best sound possible when you record. The reasoning is simple: if you AUDIO TIP use a lousy microphone to record your acoustic guitar, you’re going to EVER get a muddy or thin sounding guitar track. No amount of equalization will fix it because you simply can’t add frequencies that aren’t there. Always strive to get the best sound possible when you record: use the best preamp you can afford, use good microphones and place them carefully, and make sure you have clean, strong audio levels throughout your signal chain. COUSIN OF THE MOST IMPORTANT AUDIO TIP EVER Trust your ears. If you try something I suggest (or anyone else suggests) and it sounds lousy, don’t do it! The buck stops at your ears. Maybe using a lousy microphone will sound cooler than you expect. What matters in the end is how the recording sounds, and especially how it sounds to you. Consider Your Equipment To record Real Instruments, the first thing you need is, well, a real instrument. I mean this more broadly than you might think. A real instrument can be anything from a high-end electric guitar to a tin can—and if a tin can isn’t handy, there’s always your voice (although with some people it’s hard to tell the difference). The term Real Instrument sounds somewhat intimidating and exclusive, but the GarageBand programmers only meant to distinguish it from Software Instruments covered earlier. Instead of recording MIDI data, Real Instruments record physical sound waves. Plug in To bring physical sound waves into your Mac, you need some extra equipment. This comes in two varieties: a direct signal from the electronics in your instrument, or a signal from a microphone. Direct Page 33 electronic signals can come from a variety of sources, but for most people the source will be an electric guitar pickup (see What’s a Pickup?). Without going into too much detail about guitar electronics, a pickup usually consists of magnets and wires that translate the vibration of a guitar or bass string into an electrical signal. A synthesizer with a line out or stereo outputs is another electronic signal source. It is possible to run this signal directly into your Mac, but the signal level is too low to get good audio fidelity (see the sidebar just ahead). You need a preamp to boost the signal to a usable level. A microphone puts out an even quieter signal than a guitar—a mic signal definitely needs to be boosted before it gets to GarageBand. SIDEBAR WHY YOU DON’T WANT A WEAK SIGNAL Given the right adapters, you can plug a guitar cable directly into your Mac and record in GarageBand. However, you’ll notice that the signal levels tend to barely reach the middle of the signal indicator (and the sound is fainter). A weak signal is bad for two reasons: • Noise: Every electronic device produces a bit of low-level hum or noise whenever it’s on. Think of fluorescent lights or your refrigerator. The lower the signal level, the louder the noise is in relation to it (see Figure 5, on the next page). So, if your guitar track is extremely quiet and you raise its volume to compensate, you’re also raising the volume of the noise. It’s far better to get the strongest signal you can when you’re recording to keep the noise to an absolute minimum. • Bits: Tracks in GarageBand are recorded on your hard drive in bits, or zeros and ones. Many, many times per second (44,100 to be exact), GarageBand looks at the incoming signal and stores it. Since GarageBand records in 16-bit audio, each slice (or sample) of sound is represented by a number from 0 to 65,535. If your signal is low, GarageBand can use only a small portion of this possible recording range (say, from 2000 to 5000), resulting in grainy, low-quality, noise-filled tracks. Ideally, you want to use as much of the available range as possible for the highest audio quality. Page 34 FIGURE 5 If your signal is too weak (left), it’s barely audible above the noise. Raising its level later also raises the level of noise. If the signal is too strong (right), clipping occurs. The middle signal is just right. Locate a preamp You could swing by Radio Shack and pick up a preamp for $20 or so, or you could go to a store that sells professional audio gear and lay down thousands of dollars. For most GarageBand users, something in the middle ($50 to $300) is most appropriate. The popular Griffin iMic will also work in a pinch as an inexpensive preamp, but only for guitars or other line-level instruments. Its signal is too noisy for use with a microphone, and it doesn’t provide enough signal boost. NOTE A dirt-cheap preamp will boost your signal, but its budget electronics will also color the sound, emphasizing certain frequencies and minimizing others, or introducing an excessive amount of noise. The idea behind a preamp is that it should provide gain without degrading the signal. If you’re using a $150 microphone to record your $600 acoustic guitar, you don’t want a mediocre $30 preamp muddying the signal. At the same time, we’re talking about GarageBand here, not a $2000 ProTools suite. If this is your first foray into recording, make do with something under $200; you can trade up to more expensive gear later. Page 35 NOTE EIGHT IS ENOUGH If you want to record more than one track at a time, you’ll need some sort of preamp or mixing board. However, you won’t be able to record more than two tracks at a time on anything that’s not a FireWire device. This is because the audio in jack on your computer (or on an iMic, if you don’t have an audio in jack) has only two channels—left and right stereo. Even if your preamp features eight inputs, GarageBand sees only two incoming signals if it’s connected via a normal audio in port. And USB doesn’t really have the muscle for more than two tracks out at a time. For the full GarageBand 3 experience, you need a FireWire interface that can handle eight tracks at once (and a fast computer with lots of RAM). For some hardware recommendations, hunt around in Apple’s GarageBand 3 discussion group (http://discussions.apple.com/forum.jspa?forumID=1120). Use a microphone The second possibility for getting sound waves into your computer is a good old microphone. Your Mac may have a microphone built into its chassis somewhere, but it won’t give you the highest quality audio you’ve ever heard. The same goes for the mic in an iSight. You’re much better off with a quality inexpensive microphone made specifically for audio recording. You can get a perfectly decent one for about $100. NOTE Another disadvantage of dedicated computer microphones is their built-in noise reduction, which means that the quiet parts of your audio will get cut out completely—not good for that delicate acoustic guitar song. This happens when you’re talking to someone on a cell phone and they want to share a song they’re listening to—you hear only the loudest bits of the song and the rest gets cut out. It’s terribly irritating and not at all what you want when you record audio. A decent microphone is incredibly versatile. You can use it to record your voice, any acoustic instruments lying around the house (pianos, guitars, violins, tubas, kettle drums, and so on), and pretty much anything else you can think of that makes a noise. Page 36 If you have a guitar amp (and a guitar with a pickup), you now have two ways to record your guitar. Recording the guitar directly into GarageBand will give you a cleaner, less-processed signal that you can then manipulate with GarageBand effects, but recording an amp using a microphone yields a recording with more character and ambience. Try both methods. You’ll probably find you like each for different uses. Set Up Your Input Device By and large, setting up a preamp is fairly easy as long as you don’t skip any steps. I’ll walk you through a few possible configurations; if you own a piece of gear not mentioned, chances are the setup will be similar. A number of preamps are available, of course, but to cover a useful range of price and quality, I focus on the following four devices: the Griffin iMic (next), the Behringer Eurorack UB502, the Tascam US-122, and the Digidesign MBox. iMic The Griffin iMic (http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/imic2/) is a USB adapter that allows you to plug many different types of audio devices into your Mac. It’s especially useful on iBooks and other Macs that don’t have an audio-in jack. You can use an iMic alone to boost a guitar or microphone to a decent recording level, but you’ll definitely achieve superior results with a better preamp. The iMic is simple to set up. It requires no software and you can begin recording in 5 minutes or less. Here are the steps: 1. Quit GarageBand if it’s running. GarageBand recognizes new equipment only if the gear is plugged in at launch. 2. Plug in the iMic. 3. Push the switch on the iMic toward the microphone icon. 4. Plug your guitar into the microphone input on the iMic. To do this, you need a 1/4" to mini adapter. If you’re using a microphone with an XLR cable, you also need an XLR to 1/4" adapter/transformer. 5. Open the Sound pane in System Preferences and select the Input tab. Select iMic from the list of input options and set the input level using the slider while you play some notes. You want the input level to be as high as possible without maxing out. If you find Page 37 you have the level cranked all the way up and you still aren’t getting enough signal, move the iMic switch to the speaker position. 6. Launch GarageBand. Then, in GarageBand’s Audio/MIDI preferences, choose iMic USB Audio System as the Audio Input option. 7. See Set up your track for more on fine-tuning the levels and getting a good signal. NOTE To use a microphone with the iMic you need an XLR to 1/4" adapter/transformer plus a 1/4" to mini adapter (see Figure 6 for illustrations of common cable types). This setup is cumbersome, doesn’t give you enough gain, and costs almost half as much as a cheap preamp anyway. Griffin themselves admit that this is not the best solution and recommend a dedicated preamp. It’s also worth noting that every device you add to your signal chain adds noise and degrades audio quality—another reason to use something other than an iMic for a microphone preamp. FIGURE 6 Common audio cable types: 1. XLR, or microphone cord 2. 1/4" guitar cord 3. 1/4" stereo cord (notice the two rings on the shaft—one for the left channel and one for the right) 4. Stereo mini cord 5. RCA cord, commonly used to connect home stereo components Page 38 That’s all there is to setting up the iMic. As I said, it’s not a professional quality setup by any means, but if you’re just making demos or quick recordings of ideas, it should serve you well. If your plan is to create more polished recordings, you’ll want to get some fancier gear. Behringer Eurorack UB502 The Eurorack series from Behringer is a set of remarkably inexpensive preamp/mixers that work well in tandem with GarageBand. Their only downside is that they only have audio outs, not USB, so you need either a Mac with an audio in jack or an iMic to pass the signal. And despite its six inputs, because of its audio-only connection, you can record only to two tracks at once with the Eurorack (see the note, a few pages earlier, Eight Is Enough). Like the iMic, setup is simple; here’s what to do: 1. Plug in the Eurorack’s power brick to turn the unit on. 2. The Eurorack offers two options for sound out from the mixer: Main Out or Tape Out. Each essentially gives you the same signal, but Main Out uses two 1/4" jacks and Tape Out uses two RCA jacks. I use a dual RCA to stereo mini cord, but a dual 1/4" to stereo mini cord would work just as well. Plug whichever cords you’re using into the Eurorack. 3. Plug the mini end into your computer (if you have audio in) or into an iMic (if you don’t). 4. From System Preferences, open the Sound preference pane and click the Input tab. Select Audio In or the iMic, depending on which you’re using. 5. While you’re in the Sound preference pane, click the Input tab and select Line In (or iMic USB Audio System) from the list of options. Set the input level using the slider while you’re playing some notes. The level should peak one or two bars below the maximum. 6. Go to GarageBand’s Audio/MIDI preference pane and choose Built-in Audio or iMic USB Audio System from the Audio Input pop-up menu, depending on which one you’re using. 7. See Set up your track for more details on setting levels and getting the sound you want. Page 39 Tascam US-122 The US-122 is an affordable, flexible unit that allows you to get highquality audio directly into your computer through a USB port. In addition to 2 channels of audio inputs (for either mic or instrument cables), it also has 16 channels of MIDI in and out, so it’s the perfect solution for someone who has a MIDI controller that lacks a USB connection. Installation and setup is easy: 1. Download the latest drivers from http://www.tascam.com/. Install the software according to the instructions and restart your Mac. 2. Plug in the US-122. 3. Launch GarageBand. 4. Go to GarageBand’s Audio/MIDI preferences and choose Tascam US-122 as the Audio Input source. TIP It’s probably a good idea to use the US-122 as the Audio Output source as well, but it’s not required. If you decide to do this, make sure you plug your speakers or headphones into the US-122’s Phones jack and that you turn up the Phones level on the unit as well. 5. Continue to the instructions in Set up your track. NOTE I ended up replacing my Mbox with the Tascam US-122. I wanted to use Logic as my high-end audio application instead of ProTools, and the Mbox often wouldn’t cooperate with other applications. For example, recording my bass through the Mbox into ProTools worked great, but recording into GarageBand resulted in a horribly fuzzy, distorted bass sound. I never figured out the exact cause of the problem, and I know others have used the Mbox and GarageBand with no difficulties. So my switch to the Tascam US-122 doesn’t mean the Mbox doesn’t work with GarageBand, but only that I had problems with my particular setup. Digidesign MBox The MBox is a more expensive option than the previous three. But it works with GarageBand (for the most part), and is a viable solution for someone who thinks they want to get into the more upscale world of Pro Tools at some point. Other than having to install software the Page 40 first time you use it, it’s even easier to set up than the other options I’ve covered earlier in this section: 1. Download the latest version of the Digidesign CoreAudio Manager from http://www.digidesign.com/. Install the software according to the instructions and restart your computer. 2. Plug in the MBox. 3. Launch GarageBand. 4. Go to GarageBand’s Audio/MIDI preferences and choose Digidesign HW (MBox) in both Audio Input and Audio Output. 5. Continue to the instructions in Set up your track. TIP I recommend restarting your computer each time you want to use the MBox. It may not be absolutely necessary, but I’ve experienced some weird problems using my MBox with GarageBand, and restarting solved them (at least temporarily). Also, you don’t specifically need to use the MBox as the audio output source, but I’ve found that GarageBand and the MBox cooperate better if you set things up this way. In addition, the MBox offers better sound output than your computer, so what you’re recording sounds cleaner and more accurate. Record an Electric Instrument Recording an electric instrument is different than recording a MIDI instrument. Here’s what you need to capture those power chords: • An electric guitar or bass, a keyboard with a line out, or any instrument with a pickup. • A 1/4" instrument cord. • A preamp. • One of the following: A USB or FireWire cord if your preamp has one of these connectors; or, a cord to connect the preamp output (most likely either 1/4" or RCA) to the audio-in jack on your Mac (mini plug). If your Mac doesn’t have an audio-in jack, you also need a Griffin iMic or something similar. Page 41 NOTE In the interest of simplicity, I use guitar as the example instrument in most of the steps ahead. Unless otherwise noted, all examples can be applied to any instrument with a 1/4" line out, including electric basses, keyboards with a line out jack, or any stringed instrument with a pickup. NOTE You can take two approaches to record an electric guitar or bass. One method is to plug the instrument into an amplifier and record the speaker output with a microphone. If you absolutely love the tone they get from your Marshall stack and won’t settle for anything else, this is probably the way to go. You’ll also have the advantage (or the disadvantage, depending on your perspective) of picking up some ambient room noise along with your guitar sound. The drawback to this method is that you’re stuck with the amount of distortion and ambience you record. You can add more, but you can’t take it away. However, you may end up with a more distinctive sound using this technique. The other method is traditionally called “going direct,” or recording directly into the sound board (in this case, into GarageBand via a preamp). You end up with a cleaner signal, but it tends to lack the character of miking an amp. This method is often used for bass, since many people prefer the clean, tight sound of a bass recorded direct. GarageBand allows you to use both methods. Try them out and see which you prefer for different situations. There is no right or wrong way to do it, only personal preference. TIP When you record direct, you can still use your external effects boxes (distortion pedals, Line 6 Pods, and so on). Just plug them into your signal chain between your guitar and your preamp. You won’t be able to remove the effect later like you can with GarageBand effects, but you can get some unique sounds this way. Be aware that adding more devices to the signal chain has a tendency to increase the noise level, sometimes considerably. See What’s All That Noise. Page 42 Now that all your equipment is set up, plug your guitar or bass into your preamp. Some of these devices have a number of 1/4" inputs that all look like they would accept a guitar cord. Which one do you choose? Your first choice should be anything called Channel 1, Line In 1, or Source 1. GarageBand defaults to Channel 1 & 2 (Stereo) on Real Instrument tracks so, to record a mono track (like most guitar or bass setups), you should choose the channel you plugged into on your preamp. If you often use the same setup, you can leave everything on your preamp dialed in the way you like it; you won’t have to do as much fiddling each time you record. NOTE If you play an instrument other than electric guitar or bass, a pickup is still an option for you. Many types of pickups and transducers are available for acoustic guitars, pianos, strings, woodwinds, and brass instruments. They generally clip onto the instrument, and use the vibration of the instrument’s body or the strings to generate an electrical signal. Search online or ask at your local music shop. Set your options Before you start recording, consider the following variables: • If you want to add loops or overdub drums later, you’ll want your audio to stay aligned to the beat ruler. If this is the case, add a drum loop to your song or enable the metronome by selecting Control > Metronome (Command-U). In GarageBand’s preferences, you can choose whether the metronome plays only when recording or during playback and record. NOTE DRUMS OR METRONOME? It’s a matter of personal preference whether you record to the metronome or to a drum loop. Each has its virtues. Recording to a loop gives you a more fluid groove to play along with, as long as it’s the groove you’re looking for. The metronome has a much more rigid pulse, but you can create the feel you want without having to dig around for a drum loop that fits. If you’re laying down drums first, MIDI or live, you’ll probably want the metronome. • Choose Control > Count In to have GarageBand start a measure before you want recording to begin. In the audio world, this is Page 43 called preroll. It allows you to get a feel for the beat before you actually have to start playing—always a good idea. Set up your track If you are new to recording in GarageBand, I recommend that you carefully follow my directions for setting up your track, since you may learn something you wouldn’t find out easily otherwise. However, you don’t need to perform all the steps every time you record. To set up your track, follow these steps: 1. Create a new Real Instrument track in GarageBand, either by clicking the plus sign button in the lower left corner, or by choosing Track > New Track (Command-Option-N). 2. In the New Track dialog, select Guitars or Bass (depending on which instrument you’re using, of course). 3. Pick a default instrument sound from the list in the right hand column. If you want to record the bare bones, stripped-down sound of your guitar with absolutely no effects applied, choose the first item in the list, No Effects. TIP The No Effects instrument sound is useful if you want an ultra-clean sound, but it comes in handy at other times too. If your machine is starting to bog down under the weight of many tracks in a song, it may help to add effects after you record. No Effects is also a useful place to start if you like creating your own sounds and experimenting with effects on your own. NOTE For some truly wild sounds, choose Effects from the list of Real Instruments. This list offers bizarre combinations of effects, and you’re guaranteed to sound nothing like the guitar player next door. Some of these combinations may inspire ideas you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. 4. Directly below the list of instruments and sounds is the place where you choose your input source, the format (stereo or mono), and whether you want to monitor the track or not. Here is what you need to know about each one: Page 44 • Input: The input source in GarageBand depends on your interface. You can have up to eight channels coming in to GarageBand if you have the proper interface. The program defaults to Channel 1 & 2 (Stereo), so for a mono input (i.e., plugging in a guitar or bass with one patch cord, or plugging in one microphone), you should choose the channel you’re using on your interface. In some cases, an instrument may output a stereo signal—if you’re running your guitar through a stereo chorus pedal, for example, or if your keyboard features a stereo line out option. Nine times out of ten, though, an instrument signal is mono. NOTE If you do have a stereo signal coming out of your instrument, you need to send it to both Channel 1 and Channel 2. Many instruments with stereo output require two 1/4" guitar cords, one for each channel. If your instrument has a single stereo output, you’ll need a Y-cord or an adapter to split the stereo signal into two mono signals. • Volume: Use the volume slider to set the input volume of your track. Certain devices don’t allow you to use this slider. If it’s dimmed, set the input volume earlier in the chain (using your preamp or the Sound pane in System Preferences). NOTE With some devices, this slider has no effect on the input volume. My Tascam US-122 completely ignores the Input Volume setting in both GarageBand and in System Preferences. With the iMic and the computer’s built-in audio input, however, using this slider is the only way to set the input volume. TIP The volume slider is synchronized with the Input Volume slider on the Sound pane in System Preferences. Unfortunately, the slider in GarageBand doesn’t have an associated level meter, so you’re really just guessing when you set the input level this way. I prefer to use the slider in the System Preferences, because you can set the level much more accurately. Use the slider in GarageBand to quickly make minor adjustments if necessary. Page 45 • Monitor: Turn monitoring on if you want to hear your guitar, as well as the effects GarageBand is adding, while recording. If you’d rather not hear anything as you play, leave monitoring off. For the purposes of this tutorial, make sure monitoring is on. 5. Does the icon in the lower-left corner of the dialog not resemble your guitar? Click the icon to optionally select a new image to accompany your track. 6. Click OK to create the new track. NOTE MORE TRACK DETAILS Each Real Instrument can be manipulated with additional settings. Click the Details expansion triangle to see which are used by the particular instrument sound. You may want certain effects, such as delay and distortion, to be audible while you’re playing. It’s difficult to play a blistering solo with a clean, undistorted guitar while imagining how it will sound with overdrive. But in many cases you can leave off the chorus and reverb until after the part is recorded. I won’t get any deeper into effects here (see Understand GarageBand Effects), but if you want to tweak your sound so it’s just right, this is the place to do it. Remember, you can change the instrument sound at any point before or after you record. You’re actually recording your guitar without any effects applied. Page 46 OOPS… WHAT’S ALL THAT NOISE? If you plug in your guitar, bass, or keyboard and hear a nasty buzz, you’ve got electrical interference, also known as 60-cycle hum (at least here in the United States.). This may not be bothersome when you’re practicing or playing a gig, but the prospect of capturing that horrible sound as part of your recording may be more than you can handle. Here are some things you can try: • Unplug the cord and plug it in again: Jiggle it a little, too. • Move around the room: Turn your body at different angles. This often helps significantly. Believe it or not, facing magnetic north works wonders (for those with a compass). While you’re playing, try not to move much, if possible. • Move your computer and preamp away from other electrical devices or turn these devices off temporarily: Beware of vacuum cleaners, televisions, some lights, fans, air conditioners, refrigerators, microwave ovens, and other kitchen appliances. Turning them off or moving away from them may help. Fluorescent lights and computer monitors are especially noisy. If your computer is a desktop model and you use a CRT monitor, try turning it off while you’re recording. • Use a decent, relatively new guitar cord: The shorter the better. Avoid piling the excess cord up with all the other electrical cords—this only increases interference. If your cords must cross, keep it to an absolute minimum and do so at 90-degree angles. • Eliminate as many links in the signal chain as you can: Adding a lot of effects boxes (or even one) may degrade the signal and significantly increase noise. • Consider your guitar: Unfortunately, the best solution is the hardest. Much of the noise is probably coming from your guitar itself. Many off-the-shelf guitars and basses, even some expensive ones, are poorly shielded and grounded. The hum is especially problematic on guitars with single-coil pickups like Stratocasters. The solution is too complex to explain here, but the experts at GuitarNuts.com offer an excellent tutorial at http://www.guitarnuts.com/wiring/shielding/shield3.php. If you’re not up to doing a little soldering and rewiring, take your guitar to a music store or repair shop and ask to have it shielded. It’s money well spent. Page 47 Set levels Your guitar is plugged in; your track is set up. Now you need to make sure your levels are adequate. You want the levels to be as strong as you can get them without setting off the clipping indicators. Play something on your guitar to make sure you’re getting a signal. NOTE CLIPPING When the incoming signal gets too loud for GarageBand to handle, clipping occurs. Clipping literally means that the loudest peaks of your signal are chopped off, or clipped (see Figure 4, earlier). In the digital world, this is undesirable. Digital clipping is harsh and nasty sounding, and is something you always want to avoid. If you see the red clipping indicators on your preamp or in your track going off, turn down the gain on your preamp. Use a good pair of headphones and listen carefully to the source signal. Even if you’re not setting off the clipping indicators and the peak light on your input device stays dark, confirm the quality of the signal with your ears. I find that with certain preamps (especially with bass tracks), I need to lower the input gain on my preamp somewhat to get a clean tone. Trust your ears above all else! WARNING! When making your level adjustments, lower the volume on your Mac or external speakers so you don’t blow them out with a sudden burst of sound. As you set levels for a particular track, play the part you’re actually going to play. If you’re recording a rock song with lots of power chords, don’t set your levels by fingerpicking a pretty one-note melody. Likewise, if your bass part is a delicate set of arpeggios, don’t check levels with loud thumb slapping and popping. Different playing styles produce different volumes. Your goal is to make the loudest part of your track generate as strong a signal as possible without clipping: 1. Turn the volume on your computer or your speakers down fairly low so you don’t blow your speakers or set off a small avalanche. You can turn it back up later, but set your input levels first. Page 48 2. Set the track level to its default by Option-clicking the track’s level slider. The track level doesn’t actually affect the record level, so you can use this level while you’re recording to adjust the balance between your guitar and the rest of the song. But for now, set it to its default. 3. Turn up the volume on the guitar all the way. NOTE WHY DO I WANT MY GUITAR VOLUME ALL THE WAY UP? Believe it or not, the volume knob on a guitar doesn’t actually add volume (unless you have a guitar with active electronics). If your guitar had absolutely no knobs, the sound coming out would be the same as it is when all the knobs are at 10. The volume knobs are there only to reduce the signal. The tone knobs do the same, except they only affect certain portions of the frequency spectrum. Setting the knobs at 10 gives you the true and unadulterated sound of your pickups. It also sends a nice strong level out to the preamp, which is what you want. 4. Set the volume on the preamp to about half of its maximum. 5. Open System Preferences and go to the Sound preference pane. Click the Input tab and set the input level so the signal peaks just below the maximum. Certain preamps, like the MBox, don’t use the system preferences, so you may be able to ignore this step. TIP Try to keep the signal level as consistent as possible throughout the signal chain. In other words, don’t set your guitar volume to 3, and then set the preamp level so high that you have to reduce the level again in the system preferences. This only degrades the signal quality. 6. Now, play your part and slowly turn the preamp level up until it just begins to peak. Once it does, back it off a little. 7. Option-click the track level slider in GarageBand to reset it to its default level. Continue to play and look at the track level meter in GarageBand. Ideally, the levels should peak in the high end of the green or just into the orange and not set off the clipping indicators. If the levels are too low, you must turn something up. The guitar is already at 10, so that means either adjusting the preamp or the Page 49 Sound preference pane. Also check to see if more than one knob on the preamp needs adjusting. Some devices have individual input levels as well as a master level. OOPS… WHAT IF I’M NOT GETTING A SIGNAL? If your guitar is plugged in but you don’t hear anything, double-check the following things: • Turn on Monitoring in the Track Info pane and make sure the volume slider is up at a reasonable level (if it’s not dimmed). • If the track level meter isn’t moving at all, check to make sure the preamp is set properly and everything is plugged in where it should be. Also ensure that GarageBand is looking for the same channel you’re plugged into. I’ve often found myself plugged into Channel 1 when GarageBand was listening to channel 2. • If the track level meter is moving, a signal is getting into the computer. If you have a laptop with a built-in microphone, snap your fingers near the mic. If the level spikes, then GarageBand is getting its input from Built-In Audio, and not your external preamp. See Set Up Your Input Device for instructions on setting up inputs. • Make sure all the plugs are secured tightly, and are plugged into the right jacks. • Turn the volume knob on the guitar up all the way. • Check the input level on the preamp, as well as the main output level if there is one. Turn these levels up a little at a time, and test the guitar after each adjustment. If all the levels are cranked and you’re still not getting anything, turn the levels back down to about 2/3 so you don’t blow your speakers when you figure out what the problem is. TIP You may need to adjust the track volume or the main volume levels in the main GarageBand window. These don’t affect your recording levels—only the level coming out of GarageBand into your headphones or speakers. If you are trying for an aggressive guitar part, try turning the track level a little lower to encourage you to play with more élan. Shooting for a more mellow mood? Try the opposite. Your goal is to achieve a comfortable balance that helps you play your best. Page 50 8. Click the Record button and play through your part for a few measures. Are all the levels strong? Can you hear what you need to hear through your headphones or speakers? Is there a delay between when you play and when you hear the output? (If you hear a delay, read the tip below.) This is your test run, so make sure everything feels right. Play back what you recorded to make sure you’re getting a clean signal. Turn off all effects temporarily and listen to the part again. You can get a distorted-sounding signal even if you’re not setting off any clipping indicators. You haven’t mixed your song yet, so experiment with the levels of the other tracks until you’re comfortable with what you’re hearing. Hearing more drums, for example, may help you stay in rhythm. TIP WHY IS MY AUDIO DELAYED? You may notice when you’re recording that the audio you hear coming through your headphones or speakers is slightly behind what you are actually playing. This is known as latency, and in extreme cases it can make it impossible to play your part in rhythm. Follow these steps to try to reduce the latency: 1. Open the Audio/MIDI preferences pane and select Minimum Delay when Playing Instruments Live. If this is already selected, don’t despair. Try selecting Maximum Number of Simultaneous Tracks and switching back. GarageBand seems to lag for no apparent reason, and switching back and forth often fixes it. If not, try quitting and restarting GarageBand, (or restarting your Mac). 2. If you still experience latency, mute some tracks and turn off some effects. Try using the absolute minimum you need to play your part effectively. 3. Lock some of your tracks (for details on this procedure, see Appendix B: Troubleshooting). This takes some load off the processor and should solve your problems. Page 51 SIDEBAR TUNE YOUR GUITAR (OR BASS) If a guitar is even slightly out of tune when you record it, you’ll have to listen to it that way for the rest of eternity. If you’re planning to do anything with your GarageBand recordings—release them on CD, send them to a record label, play them for your musically inclined friends—you want your guitar to be in tune. Yes, you’ve been playing guitar for years and you know how to tune your instrument. I’ve been playing for 20 years and I thought I knew how to tune as well, but my life was forever changed by an excellent article, “Guitar Tuning Nightmares Explained,” by Jack Endino in TapeOp magazine (thanks, Jack!). You can read the full article at http://endino.com/archive/tuningnightmares.html. Here is how I recommend that you tune your guitar: 1. Open the GarageBand tuner by clicking the tuning fork in the time display, or press Command-F (see Figure 7). 2. On your guitar, select the pickup closest to the neck, turn the volume all the way up and the tone knob all the way down (yes, down). This minimizes many of the upper harmonics that can confuse the tuner and make the needle jump all over the place. 3. As you tune, pluck each string above the 12th fret. This is usually the one with two dots on the fretboard. Again, this minimizes the upper harmonics and emphasizes the fundamental. Slowly turn the tuning peg on the guitar until the note spends most of its time in the green portion of the tuner. Always tune up to the proper note, never down. 4. Try to pluck the notes with the same force you will be using when you play the track. Fast, hard picking tends to make the note sharp at first. This effect is accentuated on the lower strings, especially the low E string. If your part is fast, with lost of short notes, tune so the initial attack is in tune. If the part is slower with more held notes, tune so the sustained part of the note is in tune. FIGURE 7 Click the tuning fork icon to open the GarageBand tuner. Page 52 Let’s record already… This is it: time to record. Don’t worry, this part is significantly easier than the setup. All you have to worry about at this point is playing your part well. Hit the Record button (R) and record a take. The wonderful thing about recording on your computer is that if it’s right, fabulous; if not, just delete it and try again. TIP A decent pair of headphones is a great investment for any small home studio. Get a pair with good, even frequency response that faithfully reproduces what comes out of the computer. Ideally, they should cover your ears. If you can afford a pair of fully-sealed headphones, that’s even better, because they prevent bleeding to a microphone. This is especially true when recording vocals, but it can occur anytime a microphone is anywhere near your head. For great headphone recommendations, read Dan Frakes’s TidBITS reviews: • Music to Your Ears: 2002: http://db.tidbits.com/getbits.acgi?tbart=07012 • Music to Your Ears: 2003 http://db.tidbits.com/getbits.acgi?tbart=07479 You may record a take that you want to keep, but you want to try again to get one that’s even better. Duplicate the track by choosing Track > Duplicate Track (Command-D). Make sure you mute the original track before you start recording again. With this method, you can record and save numerous takes of the same part. But beware: your disk can fill up fast this way. At some point you’ll want to listen to your takes, pick one or two to save, and delete the rest. NOTE Hopefully everything will go smoothly, but there’s always a chance you might run into trouble while recording. If so, see Appendix B: Troubleshooting for tips on how to solve various common issues. Page 53 Record with a Microphone Microphones are amazing. With a microphone you can take any sound and add it to your song. Think about it: you can bring any sound into your computer. Your voice, your cat’s voice, the dishwasher, a wooden spoon hitting a plastic bucket, the robins in the tree outside the window, and yes, traditional instruments, can all join the party. Anything your ears can hear a microphone can hear as well (and sometimes more). This opens up a whole world of possibilities to you. Choose a microphone Microphones come in all shapes and sizes, and range in price from about $20 to many thousands of dollars. Needless to say, the more you spend the more you get, but you can purchase an extremely good all-around microphone for about $100 that will serve your GarageBand needs admirably. TIP If you were to buy just one microphone to use for almost everything, it would be hard to go wrong with a Shure SM57. It’s arguably the most popular mic in use. The Sennheiser e835 is similar, but it has better response in the high end, which makes for crisper recordings. For more mic recommendations (and a lot of other mic-related information), check out http://www.tweakheadz.com/microphones _for_the_home_studio.htm. Many types of microphones are available, but for general all-around recording work, a dynamic mic is your best bet. For one thing, they’re the most affordable. They’re also sturdy, easy to use, and work well in most situations. The downside is that they have a more sluggish response than other types of microphones, meaning they have a harder time picking up quiet signals and subtle nuances. But in the GarageBand world, they do an excellent job. If you have a dynamic mic and you’d like a second option, the next step is a condenser mic. Condensers are much more sensitive than dynamic mics, which means they pick up more subtleties, but they also distort easily if the source gets too loud. And if you shuffle your feet while you’re recording your vocal take, you’ll hear it loud and clear on the final recording. It’s a little creepy what even a budget condenser mic picks up. Page 54 TIP If you are extremely budget- and time-conscious, try the $50 USB MicFlex from MacMice (http://www.macmice.com/micflex.html). It’s affordable, respectable sounding, and extremely easy and convenient. The flexible neck contorts into pretty much any position you want, and you can use it with or without the weighted base. I’ve found it’s a great way to capture those late-night vocal inspirations without having to go through all the rigmarole of setting up your mic stand, plugging in the preamp, running the cord from the mic to the preamp…. It’s a bit sensitive to large volumes of air, so definitely use a windscreen (see the sidebar Build Your Own Windscreen, later). You won’t be able to get particularly intimate, close recordings with the MicFlex. But it’s great for quick demos. Another thing to keep in mind is that most condensers either need batteries or what’s called phantom power—external power, generally coming from the preamp. You also have to be more careful with condensers—they’re much more delicate than dynamic mics. A last variable to consider is the polar pattern of the microphone. An omni-directional mic will pick up everything in its vicinity regardless of what direction it’s pointed. A cardioid, or heart-shaped mic, has a more focused pattern and primarily picks up sound in front and to the side, but not behind. For a general-purpose mic, the cardioid pattern is a better choice, due to its superior isolation. Select a room Deciding where to record is important when using a microphone. Depending on the shape of the room and the angles of the walls, various rooms will emphasize various frequencies differently. These resonant frequencies can build up and color your recording quite significantly. I could get all mathematical and explain why this happens and what you can do about it, but instead, I suggest you put the instrument in the room you want to record in and play. If it sounds good, wonderful. If it sounds lousy, try a different place in the room (perhaps move toward the middle or one corner), or a different room altogether. You can’t make something sound better than it does when it hits the mic. Remember: start with the best sound you can. Page 55 NOTE You may think that because your voice sounds great when you sing in the shower, the bathroom would be the best room in the house to record. This isn’t necessarily the case. Bathrooms are generally small and highly reflective, resulting in a short, pronounced echo known as slapback (often used in rockabilly recordings). If you record a great vocal track in the bathroom and decide later that you don’t like the echo, there isn’t anything you can do to remove it. Better to record in a more acoustically neutral environment and add echo later. TIP If you find that a room sounds too “live”—too reverberant and bright—try tossing rugs across the floor or over a table between the instrument and the wall. Or, try opening or closing interior doors. The idea is to minimize standing waves—sound waves that bounce back and forth between opposing walls and unduly emphasize certain frequencies. Another option is to create a box around the mic with pillows or furniture to isolate the mic from room reflections. Learn about mic placement Microphone placement is an art unto itself. Moving a microphone even a millimeter can significantly change the sound it picks up. In this section, I offer a few tips on using a microphone to record common instruments. But in all cases, no matter what I or anyone else says about where the microphone should be placed, trust your ears. If you read somewhere that you should place a microphone 6 inches away from an amplifier, pointing at the speaker at a 45-degree angle, try it. If it sounds awful, put it somewhere else. Even if it sounds fine, try a few other spots—they may sound even better. Mic an electric guitar or bass amp Do you absolutely love the way your guitar sounds when it’s plugged into your amp? Have you painstakingly tried to recreate this sound in GarageBand with little success? Why not go straight to the source and mic your amplifier? Miking the amp speaker is also a great way to get variety in your guitar sounds—in a song with two guitars, you can record one guitar straight into the preamp and the second by miking the guitar through the amplifier. The two tracks will have different sonic qualities that will help to distinguish them in the mix. Page 56 Miking a guitar amp is not terribly tricky, but here are a few tips: • Move the microphone around: Loud, distorted guitars often sound great with the mic a few inches from the speaker cone, giving a more meaty tone. A less distorted guitar might sound better with the mic a few feet back, resulting in a warmer sound. • Try different angles: Straight on will give you a more crunchy tone, while more of an angle will sound warmer. If your amp has an open back, try putting the mic back there as well. • Tilt the amp back, or place it on a chair or a table: This minimizes reflections from the floor that can muddy the sound. Or leave the amp flat on the floor if you like the density of the tone. • Play with the amplifier volume: Often, guitars are recorded with the amplifiers cranked up so they distort. This is a possibility. Try others. Louder isn’t always better. TIP Don’t forget to use your ears again to listen to the track in context, with the rest of the recording. Something may sound great on its own, but it has to work with the track or all bets are off. Mic an acoustic guitar The key to recording stringed acoustic instruments lies in understanding how they produce sound. The strings vibrate, but in themselves don’t generate much power. The volume comes from the sympathetic vibration of the instrument’s body. Placing a mic right on top of the strings not only puts the mic in your way, but also results in a sound full of string noise—clicks and squeaks that you probably don’t want as the dominant sound. Most of the following recording tips are for acoustic guitars, but they work equally well with banjos, mandolins, violins, and other acoustic stringed instruments: • Try this first: A good initial “standard” placement is to place the mic 4 to 12 inches from the strings at a 90-degree angle to the top of the guitar, aiming it at the fret where the neck and body join. The angle of the microphone now acts as a kind of equalizer: tilt it a little toward the sound hole to get more bass; tilt it a little away from the sound hole to get more treble. Page 57 • Don’t point the mic directly at the sound hole: The volume of air moving out of the guitar causes a boomy, woofy sound, similar to what you hear when your local TV weatherman is standing outside on a windy day. • Place the mic so it picks up all the strings evenly: If the microphone is pointing at the top of the guitar, it will pick up mostly the bass strings and less of the higher strings. SIDEBAR CLOSE VERSUS DISTANT MIKING When placing microphones, anything within 6 or 12 inches of the source is considered close miking. Anything farther away is distant miking. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages; which you choose depends entirely upon the effect you’re trying to achieve. Here are the differences: Close miking: • Fuller, tighter sound: highs and lows tend to be more pronounced at close proximity. This is known as the “proximity effect.” • Less room ambience on track: the microphone picks up more of the instrument and less of the room reflections. • More separation when recording in stereo. • Subtle differences in placement are much more noticeable with close miking. Distant miking: • More room ambience: this is fine if the room sounds good, but if not, you’re stuck with it. • Mics are not in the way of the musicians. • Easier to pick up groups of musicians, like backup vocalists or string sections. • Easier to control dynamics: highs and lows are more pronounced at close proximity; the dynamics even out somewhat. One other thing to keep in mind when placing mics is depth of field. If you mic everything in your song from two inches away, everything in the song is going to be competing for that slice of space two inches behind the speaker cone. Spread things out by recording some tracks using close miking and others using more distant miking. Your mix will boast a lot more depth, and tracks won’t compete so much. Page 58 • Try different distances: Close miking will result in brighter recordings with fewer harmonics. More distant miking gives a rounder, warmer tone with more harmonics and more room ambience. TIP If you have two mics and an interface with two or more inputs, you can record two distances at once. Record with one mic up close and one farther away, and then choose which one you like better when you’re mixing (or combine the two). • Consider the type of music: Some songs sound better with a bright, close-miked guitar, and others are more suited to the warmth of a guitar recorded from several feet away. • Use two mics: Try recording acoustic instruments in stereo or with multiple mics, especially if they are the main instruments (see Record a stereo track). This results in a full, rich sound that nicely fills out the recording. If you’re recording an acoustic instrument as a backing track that won’t be prominent in the mix, don’t bother recording in stereo. The subtlety will be lost and may actually muddy the mix and compete with other instruments. • Use a pickup and a mic: If your guitar has a built-in pickup, consider recording the built-in pickup on one channel, and recording your guitar with the microphone on the other channel. Again, blending the two signals will often produce a great guitar tone. Mic a piano There are a million ways to mic a piano. The trick is choosing a method that sounds suitable in the context you’re working in. In some settings—a jazz tune, a quiet ballad—the warmth and subtlety of distant miking may be more appropriate. In a rock song or in a context where the piano needs to cut through the mix, placing the mic (or better, multiple mics) closer to the strings might be more effective. Consider the following: • Be careful when close-miking a piano: If you place the mic in the middle of the soundboard, you may not pick up as much volume from the low and high strings. Of course, if you don’t plan on playing the low and high strings this isn’t a problem. Page 59 • Record in two passes: Another option with one microphone is to mic the lower portion of the soundboard and play the left-hand part, and then move the mic to the upper strings and record the right-hand part on a different track. • Record in stereo: If you do have two microphones, recording the piano in stereo often works beautifully. You can use one mic for the low strings and one for the highs, or you can try one close mic and one more distant to capture some room ambience. Mic drums Miking a full drum set is a tricky operation. Professional recording engineers often use one microphone for each individual drum and a pair of stereo mics for the cymbals. Even for a small drum kit, this can quickly add up to six or eight microphones. I doubt that you have this sort of arsenal at your disposal, but it is possible to get a decent drum sound with one or two carefully placed mics. It’s not going to sound like Steely Dan, but it won’t sound half bad. Here’s some basic advice: • Mic from above: One mic placed overhead captures quite a bit of the cymbals and the snare, but little kick drum. • Mic from the front: One mic in front of the kit has lots of kick, but little snare. • Mic the whole setup: One distant mic will capture the full kit, but the sound won’t be tight or punchy. • Use two microphones at once: Two microphones give you a more balanced sound. One mic is devoted to the kick drum, and the other can be placed either close to the snare or overhead. If the song is mostly kick and snare, go for close-miking the snare; if the drummer spends a lot of time on the cymbals or the toms, an overhead mic might work better. Mic small ensembles When recording a horn section or a string quartet, it often works to record the entire ensemble at once with one or two microphones. Position the players equidistant from the mic or mics. Musicians in ensembles are usually able to balance volumes among themselves, especially if they’ve played together before. Since you’re recording at a distance, it helps to work in a good-sounding acoustical environment. Page 60 If you have space, consider positioning your mics in front of and somewhat above the ensemble (maybe 8 to 10 feet in the air), spaced about 9 inches apart for a perceptual stereo spread. When recording horns in particular, make sure the microphone can handle large volumes of air. A cheap or delicate microphone will overload, or worse, break when placed too near the bell of a blaring trumpet. Record vocals Think of your favorite song. If it has vocals, nine times out of ten (if not all ten times), the vocals are the most important part of the song. As human beings, we tend to focus on other human beings, whether it’s visually, aurally, or otherwise. This puts an extra burden on the vocals, both in terms of the performance and the sound quality. Set the mood The first variable—performance—depends primarily on the singer, and you can make the singer more comfortable and perhaps inspire a better performance. Even if you’re recording yourself, don’t neglect little touches that can bring out more emotion in your performance: • Light candles or burn incense. • Set out a glass of bubbly water or a cup of herbal tea. • Arrange some flowers in a vase. Of course, if you’re attempting to capture a different emotion (anger, jealousy, dystopian angst), perhaps go easy on the flowers and instead toss some dangerous-looking industrial machinery on the floor. The point is, do whatever you can to set the appropriate mood. It’s also a good idea to have a music stand holding a neat, legible copy of the lyrics. Momentarily forgetting a line in the middle of an otherwise flawless performance can dampen the morale of even the most seasoned singer. Have a pencil handy too, for last-minute changes. Place the microphone Just as with recording other instruments, mic placement is an important variable, both for the singer’s comfort and for the sound of the recording. Close-miking a singer captures more of the dynamics of the performance and sounds more intimate. Placing the mic a foot Page 61 or more away adds warmth and ambience, and smoothes out the dynamics—ideal if the song calls for abrupt shifts in volume. When close-miking a singer (or any other source that generates large volumes of air), it’s best to use a windscreen, or pop filter. This blocks some air from blowing directly into the mic and thereby prevents popping and distortion that can mar a recording. It can also help keep the singer at a consistent distance from the microphone. The sidebar on the next page tells you how to fashion your own budget windscreen. Here are some ideas for mic placement: • Pointed straight at the singer’s mouth, 6–8 inches in front: This is a good starting point. The space between the microphone and the singer adds a little bit of warmth and ambience. Use a windscreen. • Close: Good for very intimate-sounding vocals. Not good for vocals with wide dynamic shifts. Use a windscreen. • More than a foot away: Works well for singers that move around a lot. Captures more of the room sound, so make sure you like the acoustics of the space you’re recording in. • Pointed down at the singer’s nose: It looks weird, but it’s great for people with nasally voices (like yours truly). The front of the microphone should be parallel to the bridge of the singer’s nose and pointed roughly at the tip of the nose. None of the air coming out of the singer’s nose gets recorded, therefore, no nasal tone. Move the mic back a little for more ambience and to get it out of the singer’s way. • Placed parallel to the chest, aimed up at the singer’s mouth: Great for singers who like to lean into the mic. Also captures some of the resonance of the chest cavity. TIP If the song features distinct loud and soft sections, try recording each section on its own track. Record the quiet section using a close mic for intimacy, and the loud section from farther back so the singer can really belt it out. Page 62 SIDEBAR BUILD YOUR OWN WINDSCREEN You can buy windscreens at most music stores for $25 or so, but you can build one yourself for about $3. Here’s what you need: • Stockings. I use knee-highs. They come four to a pack and they’re the perfect length. You’ll want to replace them occasionally. • A wire coat hanger or similar heavy-gauge wire. • A pair of pliers. • A small diameter hose clamp. It should snugly fit your mic stand. Assembly is simple: 1. Use the pliers to straighten the coat hanger. 2. Bend one end of the coat hanger into a 6-inch diameter circle and twist the end back on itself. The hanger should look like a giant lollipop (Figure 8). 3. Pull one of the stockings over the loop so the toe seam lines up with the edge of the circle. Stretch the stocking as far as you can away from the loop and poke the straight end of the wire through the middle of the stocking. 4. Tie a knot in the stocking to keep it taut around the loop. 5. Place the hose clamp around the mic stand and clamp the free end of the windscreen to the mic stand. You should be able to comfortably bend the screen in front of the microphone. FIGURE 8 Bend the coat hanger into a lollipop shape like this. Page 63 Give the singer a pair of headphones, preferably the most acoustically closed pair you have. Old Walkman-style headphones tend to leak a lot of sound out the sides, and this can get picked up on a mic and bleed onto your vocal track. In extreme cases, this can cause feedback and potentially damage the singer’s hearing. Large, 1970s-style headphones that fit tightly around the ear are preferable. To help the vocalist sing on key, have her move the earpiece off of one ear, and try plugging the open ear with her finger. That way she’s able to hear the song in one ear and herself in the other. Rock musicians who perform with earplugs may be more comfortable this way. TIP Follow these additional tips for even more amazing recorded vocals: • Warm up: Sing scales or sing the song for 10 minutes before recording. • Choose the right time of day: Some people sing better in the morning, some in the late afternoon. Check with singers to find out when they sing their best and schedule accordingly. • Hold something: If the singer is a guitar player and is used to holding a guitar when he sings, let him. Or if he prefers to hold the mic rather than use a stand, try it. • Take a break: Sometimes it’s just not happening. Suggest that the singer take a walk, have a snack, or do a crossword puzzle— anything to take his mind off the song. • Record a reference track: Record the vocal line on piano or guitar so the singer can sing along to it. This may help his pitch. • Double-track the vocal: Try recording a second vocal track and mixing it with the first to thicken up the sound. For even more effect, have the singer step back from the mic for the second vocal, or turn the microphone around and have him sing into the back of it. It’s different, but it works. • Consider a shock-mount: A shock-mount suspends the microphone using elastic bands or springs so thumps and rumbles from bumping the mic stand and foot tapping don’t get picked up by the mic as easily. • Watch your cables: make sure the mic cable isn’t underfoot. Tapping feet can transmit vibration to the mic. Page 64 Record a stereo track If you own a preamp and two microphones, you have the ability to record in stereo! Stereo recording is especially effective on prominent instruments. If your song is acoustic guitar and vocals, recording the guitar in stereo gives you a much bigger, richer sound than a mono guitar track. Other instruments that can benefit from stereo recording are pianos, small ensembles, and organs with rotating speakers. When recording stereo tracks, you ideally want to have two matching microphones. The closer the microphones are in sound, the more accurate your stereo recording will be. With the proper equipment, recording a stereo track is simple: 1. Set up your microphones. The sidebar on the next page, “Stereo Mic Configurations,” outlines common stereo setups. 2. Plug one microphone into the Channel 1 input on your preamp, and the other into Channel 2. 3. Create a new Real Instrument track in GarageBand. Choose the appropriate instrument type. 4. To the right of the Input header, select Channel 1 & 2 (Stereo) from the pop-up menu. SIDEBAR WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE TWO IDENTICAL MICS? I’ve made a number of decent-sounding pseudo-stereo recordings with two completely different mics. Try it and see how it sounds. Record each mic to a separate track. Then pan one hard left and one hard right. If that sounds strange or imbalanced, bring the panning in on both tracks so they blend more in the center. This gives a stereo feel, but also helps balance the different sounds the two mics capture. It’s certainly not a true stereo recording, but it’s a good compromise, and it’s a lot cheaper than shelling out for a pair of stereo mics. You can also fake this by duplicating a mono track, applying different effects to each copy, and panning them to different places. Page 65 NOTE Beware of the temptation to record everything in stereo. For minor instruments or things that you’re going to pan off to one side of the mix, it’s total overkill. And in many cases, an overabundance of stereo tracks will make your final mix sound muddy and indistinct. For more information about panning and mixing, see my other ebook, Take Control of Making Music with GarageBand (http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/garageband-music.html). SIDEBAR STEREO MIC CONFIGURATIONS With two microphones available, you can record more depth by capturing the audio in stereo. Here are two common configurations: • X/Y pattern: The two mics cross in an X above or in front of the source (Figure 9). Because of their proximity, this set up minimizes phase problems between the two mics. For a wider stereo image, increase the angle between the two mics—but beware of creating a “hole” in the middle of the sound. • Spaced apart: The two mics can be parallel to each other or angled in toward the source. The parallel setup will generally give you a wider stereo image. To increase this even further you can place a baffle between the mics. FIGURE 9 X/Y Pattern (left); spaced mics with a baffle (right). Page 66 WARNING Beware of a little bugaboo known as phase cancellation. If you record a stereo track with two mics that aren’t quite equidistant from the source, the signals can cancel each other out (Figure 10). You can minimize this by placing the second mic three or four times as far from the source as the first. This way, the extra room ambience in the second mic will minimize any phase issues. FIGURE 10 The peaks of Signal 1 line up with the troughs of Signal 2. When combined, the result is silence! Record multiple tracks at once Probably one of the coolest features of GarageBand is the capability to record multiple tracks at once. With the proper equipment (and enough people to play the instruments), this is a piece of cake: NOTE Remember, if your preamp has only two channels, you can record only two Real Instrument tracks at once—no more. And no matter what kind of fancy interface you have, you can never record more than one Software Instrument track at a time. 1. Plug your instruments into your input device. Depending on your device, you can use guitars, keyboards with 1/4" outputs, mics, and anything else you can think of (your stereo, for example). 2. Create a new track for the first input. 3. Choose the appropriate channel (or pair of channels for a stereo track) from the Input pop-up menu. 4. Turn monitoring on if you want it, and adjust all the knobs and sliders as described in Set up your track and Set levels. 5. Do the same for all the other tracks, making sure that each track is on its own channel or channels. Page 67 6. Now here’s the cool part: Click the Record Enable button on each of the new tracks to arm the track for recording (Figure 11). If you can’t enable a track for recording, make sure it’s not sharing an input channel with another enabled track, and that you’re not trying to record on more than eight tracks at once. 7. Click Record, start jamming, and make beautiful music together. FIGURE 11 Click each track’s Record Enable button to start doing some serious multitrack recording. Use your imagination Now that you have a microphone or two, don’t be afraid to use them to record anything you can think of. Why restrict yourself to traditional instruments? Record toy xylophones, refrigerators, squeaking hinges, or anything else that comes to mind. Homemade percussion is an especially fruitful area of exploration. Plastic tubs, cardboard boxes, and tables and chairs all make excellent drums. You can fashion maracas and shakers from cans and jars filled with rice or dried beans. Fill bottles or glasses with different levels of water for a makeshift xylophone. Think of a sound you want to create and then figure out how you can achieve it. Another avenue for unique sounds is using interesting variations on speakers and microphones. Play your guitar through a boom box. Get a crappy old broken microphone and record something through that. Go to flea markets and garage sales and buy old, weird instruments, even if you don’t know how to play them. Sometimes doing things the wrong way is the best route to inspiration. Remember the golden rule: it doesn’t matter how you get a sound—if you like the result, that’s all that matters. Page 68 FIX A SECTION As with anything, every once in a while we all make mistakes. Fortunately, you don’t need to rerecord the entire track to fix your mistakes. You can redo a small section of a track, and starting with GarageBand 2.0, you can even fix timing and pitch. Punch In In the audio world, rerecording a portion of a track is called punching in. It’s a great way to rescue a performance that has one bad section. TIP When you punch in on a Real Instrument track, you need to duplicate all the conditions of the original recording or the repair will sound different. If you put your mic in another place or set the knobs on your guitar differently, you’ll hear it on the recording. Here’s how to punch in and a fix a mistake: 1. Select the track with the error. 2. Make sure Control > Snap to Grid is turned on, and align the playhead with the beginning of the section you want to replace. 3. Choose Edit > Split (Command-T). 4. Do the same at the end of the region with the mistake. 5. Select this new region and delete it. 6. With the same track still selected, choose Track > Duplicate Track (Command-D). 7. Select the new track. 8. Align the playhead where you want to begin recording. This way, you can start recording as far in advance as you like without damaging the original track. This gives you a chance to feel the groove and warm up before you get to the punch-in point. 9. Hit Record (R) and play your heart out! TIP When punching in, it helps to start recording a few measures early to allow yourself to feel the part before you need to start playing. Page 69 10. If you’re happy with the new take, move it up to the old track or simply leave it. I prefer to move it, to keep excess tracks to a minimum. You can also crop out part of the new take and move only that portion. Remember that dragging a region over an existing one replaces the portion of the old one (see Figure 12). FIGURE 12 Dragging a new region over an existing one replaces the old region. Notice that the existing region is cropped flush with the new one. NOTE The GarageBand help files recommend a different method for rerecording, using a cycle region. I’ve found that method to be awkward and potentially dangerous. If you begin playing before the cycle region starts, or you hold notes past the end of the cycle, GarageBand extends the new region you are creating and erases the measure preceding or following the cycle region (see Figure 13). I suggest using the method featured in this section instead. FIGURE 13 I started playing too early, so the new region I created wiped out a chunk of the preceding region. Page 70 Fix Timing and Pitch Did you play a wonderful sax solo, but mess up the rhythm on measure 37? Is your singing full of emotion and energy, but you’re a little sharp through the entire chorus? Never fear, GarageBand can help you fix it. Enhance Tuning and Enhance Timing can tame those out-of-tune notes and wayward beats. Here’s how: 1. Select the track that contains the offending region. If you messed up in only one specific spot, isolate it with the Split command. Place the playhead at the beginning of the section and choose Edit > Split (Command-T). Do the same at the end of the error. 2. Double-click the region with the mistake to open it in the Track Editor. 3. Depending on your mistake, choose Enhance Tuning or Enhance Timing in the Advanced column of the Track Editor, and drag the slider to the right until you like what you hear. NOTE Don’t expect miracles. Moving the slider too far to the right can easily result in artificial-sounding audio with abrupt transitions between notes and stuttering glitches in the sound. I recommend that you use these tools only as a last resort. You’re far better off rerecording the section. Change Tempo Have you recorded your whole song and realized it’s too slow? In GarageBand 2.0 and up, you can change the tempo of your song to match the recorded regions to the new beat. That’s right, even your Real Instrument recordings adjust to the new tempo. NOTE Again, this doesn’t always work perfectly. You may find your audio sounding “warbly” after you change tempos. Apparently this is a bug, and doesn’t happen all the time. If you encounter it, quit GarageBand without saving the tempo change, restart your machine, and try changing tempos again. You may have better luck the second time around. If you open an old GarageBand 1.x project in GarageBand 2 or 3, any Real Instrument regions you recorded with the earlier version appear Page 71 orange (not purple, like version 2.0 and 3.0 recordings). Orange regions don’t have this tempo scalability, at least not yet. It is possible to convert them to purple regions fairly easily, and then can scale them as though you recorded them with version 3.0. Here’s how: 1. In the track you want to convert (or on another Real Instrument track), record a short segment of silence. Place the playhead a few measures away from any audio you want to save, hit record, and then stop after a few beats. 2. Move this region next to the region you want to convert, either before or after, it doesn’t matter (see Figure 14). FIGURE 14 Move the empty purple region next to the orange region you wish to convert. 3. Select the empty purple region and all the other regions on that track you wish to convert. They don’t necessarily need to be contiguous. Choose Edit > Join (Command-J). 4. When the message “Non-contiguous audio regions require the creation of a new file!” pops up, click Create. Voilà. You now have a purple region where once you had only orange. Change tempo and this region will change with you. NOTE Recorded Real Instrument regions also must be purple in order to change their pitch. To change the pitch of a region, open its Track Edit window. The left-hand column contains the region pitch slider. Move the slider right or left to raise or lower the pitch of the region. But beware: raising or lowering the pitch of a region too much can make it sound artificial. Your voice may end up sounding like the Chipmunks or the guy who sings the Monster Mash. Use this feature carefully. Page 72 UNDERSTAND GARAGEBAND EFFECTS Effects alter the sound of a track in a wide variety of ways. You can make a track fit better in the mix, separate two similar-sounding tracks, or give your song a certain quality—hard and edgy, dreamy and ambient, robotic and mechanical. Effects are like seasoning—you can’t turn meatloaf into lobster, but you can adjust its flavor quite a bit, and in extreme cases, make it completely inedible. Effects fall into a number of different categories. Dynamic effects alter the volume of the notes or of a specific portion of those notes. Filter and equalizer effects adjust specific portions of the frequency spectrum. Time-based effects, such as echo and chorus, duplicate notes and offset them by a certain amount to give the effect of space or of several instruments playing together. And distortion effects simulate overdriven amplifiers, speakers, or transistors. GarageBand’s effects reside in several different places within the Track Info pane. The simplest and most commonly used effects, like the Compressor, Equalizer, Echo, and Reverb, show up in the Details pane. To use the others, you must select them from one of the two pop-up menus below the Equalizer. The pop-up menus include two sections: the top section contains 15 so-called GarageBand Effects; the bottom section contains the more complex Audio Units Effects (as well as any plug-in effects you may have installed). All Audio Units Effects are designated with “AU” at the beginning of their names. For more details on using Audio Units Effects, follow the MacJams tutorial article available at: http://www.macjams.com/article.php?story=20040329063101758. To edit most of the effect parameters, click the effect’s Edit button, labeled with a pencil icon. TIP Most GarageBand effects come with useful presets you can select from the effect’s pop-up menu. The presets typically offer a range of settings from subtle to extreme, so the uninitiated can quickly get a feel for what the effect does. Page 73 TIP Effects can reside in one of two places: in the individual tracks, or in the Master Track. The Master Track is normally hidden, but you can access it by selecting Track > Show Master Track (Command-B). When you view the Track Info pane for the Master Track, you’ll find the settings for the global reverb and echo effects, which you can apply to each track with their individual sliders (see Echo and delay and Reverb, later in this section). You can also add compression, equalization, and one other effect to the entire mix. This is useful, for example, if you want to use reverb to make the entire mix sound like it was recorded in the same room. You may also want to apply compression to the entire mix to squish the dynamic range and make the song seem louder (see Reverb and Compressors for more on these two effects). Dynamic Effects Dynamic effects include limiters, compressors, and gates. They alter the loudness of your source signal: compressors and limiters even out the differences between the loud and soft parts; gates block any sound below a certain threshold and are most often used to control noise or hum. Limiters Limiters help avoid clipping, or signal overload, which can cause awful-sounding distortion. Limiters smooth out peaks above a certain threshold, and can help tame sounds such as drums and aggressive guitar parts. The cool thing about limiters is that they allow you to make a track louder without setting off the clipping indicators; however, applying a limiter too aggressively can make a track sound artificial (or like a small child playing with a stereo’s volume knob). AUPeakLimiter is the only limiter available in GarageBand. Compressors Compressors are similar to limiters, but instead of just lowering the peaks, they also raise the valleys, thereby evening out the quiet and loud parts of a track. Compressors are great for tracks that have quiet parts that get lost in the mix; for evening out bass parts; and for smoothing out highly dynamic tracks, like vocals. Page 74 GarageBand comes with several compressor options. The simplest by far is the default Compressor that shows up in Details section of the Track Info pane. One slider controls the amount of compression, and that’s it. A bit inflexible, but oh so easy to use! The other two compressors are Audio Units Effects: AUDynamicsProcessor, a more traditional compressor, and AUMultibandCompressor, which features a ridiculous number of sliders. The nifty thing about the multiband compressor is that it allows you to compress separate parts of the frequency spectrum differently—so you could compress only the bass frequencies and leave the rest of the sound alone, for example. TIP One fun trick to try with these fancy compressors is to set the threshold fairly low and play with the attack and release settings. You can get some super-funky “pumping” drums with this technique. Gates Gates, commonly called “noise gates,” selectively mute the quieter parts of a track in an effort to eliminate buzz and hum. Of course, it’s far better to record a track without any noise to begin with, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. GarageBand’s default Gate resides at the top of the Details section of the Track Info pane. Moving the slider sets the threshold—the higher you set the slider, the more noise you cut out. At some point you’ll probably start cutting out stuff you want to keep as well, so set the slider carefully. The AUDynamicsProcessor can also be set as a noise gate. It includes three presets to get you started: Light Gate, Medium Gate, and Hard Gate. Filter and Equalizer Effects Filters and equalizers enable you to add, subtract, or even eliminate specific frequencies. Most stereos include either a tone knob or dedicated bass and treble knobs—these are examples of simple equalizers. And while Vocal Transformer isn’t the same type of effect as the others, it alters the frequency content of the sound and fits well here. Page 75 Equalizers GarageBand’s simple equalizers, as well as some much more complex variations, give you control over minute portions of the frequency spectrum. • Default Equalizer: The default Equalizer sits just below the Compressor in the Track Info pane. Like many simple equalizers, it divides the frequency spectrum into three sections: bass, midrange (here called simply “mid”), and treble. This type of rudimentary equalization is often adequate if you have only minor adjustments to make. TIP A good rule to keep in mind when adding equalization is to pull before adding. Rather than adding more bass, try pulling the treble and mid frequencies and boosting the overall level. The response is smoother and you won’t degrade the audio signal as much. The default Equalizer has four controls. The first and last are selfexplanatory: Bass Gain boosts or cuts the lower end of the frequency range, and Treble Gain does the same to the high end. The Mid controls are slightly more complex. Mid Gain is like the treble and bass controls, but Mid Frequency lets you select a specific frequency you want to work with. The easiest way to use this feature is to boost the Mid Gain up about halfway, and then sweep the Mid Frequency slider until you find the area you want to affect. This is especially helpful for finding frequencies to cut—start by boosting the gain, find the frequency that is most bothersome, and then cut it with the gain slider. • AUGraphicEQ: This 31-band equalizer features sliders for each portion of the audio spectrum. Move a slider up to boost and down to cut. For less jarring adjustments, it’s usually a good idea to keep a fairly smooth visual curve in the sliders, but occasionally you might want to cut a specific frequency and not touch anything else. • AUParametricEQ: This equalizer is similar to the mid controls on the default Equalizer with one added function. The Q slider determines how wide the adjustment curve is. At a low Q setting, the curve is wide and affects a broad swath of the frequency spectrum. At a high Q setting, the curve is extremely narrow and affects only frequencies close to the center frequency. Page 76 NOTE Some of the other GarageBand effects feature built-in equalization. Most notably, Amp Simulation has four EQ sliders: the now-familiar Low, Mid, and High sliders, and one new one—Presence. Presence boosts or cuts a specific portion of the high-frequency spectrum (around 2.5 KHz) to give the impression that an instrument is right there next to you. A little presence can add crispness to the sound that makes it feel “in your face.” Filters Filters are like equalizers, except they affect only portions of the frequency spectrum. (Actually, if you want to get technical, equalizers are nothing more than a number of filters bundled together, each one shaping a specific range of frequencies.) • Treble Reduction and Bass Reduction: These two filters completely eliminate the affected frequencies. You can set sweepable cutoff points above or below which all audio is filtered out. If you want your drums to sound like they’re coming from your downstairs neighbor’s apartment, use Treble Reduction. If you want one of your guitar tracks to sound thin and trebly, add a Bass Reduction filter. • Automatic Filter: Despite the bland name, this cool toy sweeps through affected frequencies over time to create a pulsing or swooshing sound. One parameter that needs a little explanation is Resonance, which emphasizes overtones near the center frequency, making the filter sound sort of “boingy.” You have to play with it to fully understand how it works, but it can create some really wild sounds. • Auto Wah: This filter simulates classic wah-wah pedals, made famous in the 1960s by musicians like Jimi Hendrix. Wah-wah pedals allow you to manually sweep through the frequency spectrum, making your guitar (or whatever other instrument you choose) sound like one of the teachers in a Peanuts cartoon. Auto Wah mimics this by using a gate to trigger the wah effect—when the signal crosses a certain threshold, it initiates a new wah cycle. • AUHighShelfFilter: This filter boosts or cuts frequencies above an adjustable cutoff point. It’s a terrific way to add sizzle to a track, especially when the default equalizer’s treble control doesn’t give Page 77 you the control you want. AULowShelfFilter does the same for bass frequencies (except it affects tones below the cutoff point). • AUHighPass and AULowPass: Similar to the shelf filters, these two add a resonance slider. Be careful with this! Turn it up too much and you may shred your speakers or your ears. • AUBandpass: This filter is similar to AUHighPass and AULowPass, but you’re singling out a specific frequency band in the middle of the spectrum. If you want to isolate only the highmids, for example, use the bandpass filter. Vocal Transformer The Vocal Transformer alters the frequency content of a sound, although not in the same way as the other filter effects. Vocal Transformer is arguably one of the most fun effects in the GarageBand arsenal. Want to sound like a woman? A man? A child? A droid? Something out of your worst nightmare? Vocal Transformer is a great place to start. It’s surprisingly effective and can be loads of laughs. Time-Based Effects Effects like Chorus, Delay, and reverb fall under this category. They all duplicate the signal and shift it over time in some way or another. Chorus, flanger, and phaser shift the signal by small amounts to mimic the sound of two instruments playing simultaneously, or to create special effects. Delay and Echo offset the sound more drastically, so you’re able to hear the track and its echo separately. Reverb uses multiple echoes to simulate sound waves bouncing around a room. I’m also including Tremolo—fluctuation in volume over time— under time-based effects, although it functions differently than the other effects in this category. Chorus, Flanger, and Phaser All three of these effects shift the signal by tiny increments—so small that you can’t distinguish the original sound from its echo, you only hear the effect of the two signals combined. Here’s a rundown: • Chorus: This effect gives a track a little bit of shimmer. It can simulate two or more instruments playing together, or it can be used for a variety of special effects. For more subtle effects, keep the Intensity and Speed sliders toward the left side of their range. Page 78 GarageBand also features a number of chorus presets that offer a variety of good starting points. • Flanger and Phaser: Both effects are similar and share the same controls, although flangers are arguably more “musical” sounding. To my ears, the flanger sounds more like a supersonic jet streaking across the sky, and the phaser more like Jabba the Hutt. Having read this, you may think I’ve gone completely mad, but give them a listen. Set the controls for each as follows: Intensity in the middle, Speed at about 10 percent, and Feedback at 90 percent. Again, you’re given quite a few presets to try out. Echo and delay GarageBand’s echo and delay effects can help you sound like The Edge from U2, or like you’re playing in the Grand Canyon. The default Echo slider, which controls the amount of echo applied, is located near the bottom of the Track Info pane. If you want more control over the echo of the entire song, open the Master Track by selecting Track > Master Track (Command-B) and double-clicking the master track header. Edit its parameters by clicking the effect’s Edit button. Note that the Echo controls in the master track apply to the default echo parameters for all the individual tracks. There are some useful presets you can use as well. If you want more control over a specific track’s echo, use the Track Echo effect. Its controls are identical to the default Echo slider, and again, you’ll find lots of useful presets to try. AUDelay is a more sophisticated delay effect. One thing I like about it is that you can specify delay times in seconds. Using a little math, you can figure out what one beat is in fractions of a second and use that number to synch your delay up to the beat of your song. Reverb Reverb simulates sound waves bouncing around in an environment, like a small room or a cathedral. If some of your tracks sound too “dry” or “dead,” a little reverb might be just what you need. Reverb makes vocals sound warmer and smoother, and can help to blend tracks together, like a string section or backing vocalists. You can also use reverb to make a track sound farther away from the listener, especially if you roll off some of the higher frequencies. Page 79 You can find GarageBand’s default Reverb control at the bottom of the Track Info pane. Like the default Echo control, you can change the reverb settings in the master track, and these settings affect the default reverb on all tracks in your song. If you want more control over reverb on a particular track you have only one choice: AUMatrixReverb, which gives you much more control than the default reverb. WARNING You pay for reverb. Performing all the calculations necessary for accurately reproducing room acoustics places a great strain on your processor. Expect GarageBand to give up and stop playback if you add reverb to too many tracks. In fact, I always recommend deselecting the default reverb checkbox on all tracks that don’t use it. It’s on by default, but set to zero; even though you’re not actually using the effect, GarageBand seems to reserve processing power for reverb when the box is checked. Tremolo The Tremolo effect creates regular fluctuations in volume that can make you sound like Duane Eddy. You can also use this effect to pan your track back and forth between the speakers. Try out some of the presets for a good idea of the possibilities. Distortion Effects Distortion effects attempt to simulate the sound of overdriven amplifiers and other signal deteriorations. They include obvious candidates like Distortion and Overdrive, and also the more esoteric Bitcrusher, which simulates low-fidelity digital distortion. I also include Amp Simulation in this group, even though it does more than just distort the sound. Distortion and Overdrive Distortion simulates an amplifier pushed beyond its limits. Distortion has become a staple of rock music—it’s been difficult to turn on the radio since the late 1960s and not hear a distorted guitar at some spot on the dial. Overdrive is a subtler relative of distortion. In both cases, turning up the Drive function also increases the volume. You can compensate by turning the Output Level slider down. Page 80 Bitcrusher Bitcrusher simulates digital downsampling and bit reduction commonly heard in techno and in old-school video games. This type of distortion sounds quite different from classic analog distortion: it’s harsher, and depending on the sample rate reduction, emphasizes overtones in a unique and quite nasty way. Amp Simulation If you recorded your electric guitar directly into GarageBand, Amp Simulation is a great way to introduce some of the analog edge of a classic guitar amp. More than just a distortion effect, Amp Simulation attempts to mimic the sound of the whole amplifier, speaker cabinet and all. Most electric guitar amplifiers feature distinct and deliberate tones that are often as integral to a particular guitar sound as a guitarist’s choice of instrument and effects. GarageBand’s Amp Simulation tries to bring some of this distinctive tone to your tracks without requiring you to own (and expertly mic) a variety of classic guitar amps. TIP Don’t reserve Amp Simulation just for your guitar. Try it on other instruments too. It’s great for lo-fi vocal effects, and the occasional distorted drum (listen to a distorted drum in Come On and Love Me by Lenny Kravitz) or keyboard part can give your song an interesting twist. Bass Amp Apple added a bass amp simulator to GarageBand 2.0, surprisingly titled Bass Amp. It’s essentially the same as the guitar version, but with different models and different presets. The first batch of presets simulate different types of bass amps. The last three, titled Top Class DI, simulate D.I. boxes—direct injection boxes that bass players typically use when recording or performing live. D.I. boxes tend to give a cleaner, punchier sound than miking an amp. TIP I still use Amp Simulation for bass as well at times. Mix and match, and try different sounds for different situations. Page 81 LEARN GARAGEBAND TIPS AND TRICKS It’s no secret that GarageBand is entry-level music editing software. For the non-musician getting started, a peek at the controls and settings in Pro Tools or Logic Pro can fry synapses faster than a late 1960s road trip on the Rolling Stones’ tour bus. But at the same time, GarageBand can perform feats that aren’t immediately obvious. Double-Track Vocals and Guitars Double-tracking is an old technique for thickening vocals and other types of tracks. The idea is that you record two takes of the same part and lay them on top of each other. The resulting product has a thicker sound and a unique quality. Double-tracking can also hide minor tuning flaws in vocal tracks. The two versions blend together and mask the out-of-tune bits. To double-track a part, simply duplicate the original track (choose Track > Duplicate Track or Command-D) and rerecord your part onto the new track. TIP Double-tracking isn’t the only method of thickening a track. Other techniques include: • Add chorus (see Time-Based Effects). • Duplicate the track and offset the new track ever so slightly. It’s tricky to move a track by tiny increments in GarageBand, but it can be done. You need to zoom the timeline way in to do it. The trick to double tracking is that the two versions have to be as identical as possible, at least if you want the effect to be invisible. There’s certainly nothing wrong with playing the second part differently and panning the two parts away from each other. This will add thickness as well as a not so subtle stereo effect. Feel free to try adding reverb or other effects to the second track for variety. Make Your Own Loops The wonderful thing about GarageBand’s loops is that you can play them in any tempo and key that you want. Starting with GarageBand 2.0, it’s a cinch to do this with your own recordings as well: Page 82 1. Trim the track down to the portion you want to use as a loop. To do this, position the playhead at the start of the desired bit and choose Edit > Split (Command-T). Do the same at the end of the segment. 2. Make sure the desired loop is selected and choose Edit > Add to Loop Library. 3. Name the loop, select Loop or One Shot, and choose scale, genre, instrument, and mood descriptors. TIP Selecting Loop creates just that—a loop. It scales to the tempo and key of your song just like the loops Apple ships with GarageBand. One Shot is meant for things like sound effects and cymbal crashes that don’t need to conform to a particular tempo or key. That’s all there is to it! Look in the loop library to find your loop alongside the others. NOTE For more on loops and how to use them, see my other ebook, Take Control of Making Music with GarageBand (http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/garageband-music.html). Turn Your Guitar into a Bass So you have an electric guitar, but you don’t have a bass. You could play bass lines on a MIDI keyboard, but maybe you lack one of those as well, or you want a more natural-sounding bass part. Here’s a little trick to turn your guitar into a bass (virtually—don’t worry, no power tools are required and your vintage axe won’t be damaged): 1. Record your guitar playing the bass line an octave higher than you want it to sound when you’re finished. 2. Open the Track Editor and move the Region Pitch slider down to –12. This transposes the guitar loop down one octave. Your guitar should sound a lot like a bass. 3. To make it even more realistic, double click the track header to open the Track Info pane. Play with the following effects settings until you like what you get: • Turn on the Compressor and move the slider to about 30. Page 83 • Activate the Equalizer. Boost the bass a bit to cut the midrange. • Add some Amp Simulation. Try American Clean with a touch of gain. Turn the bass up, the midrange down, and set treble and presence to taste. Or, try one of the Bass Amp presets. Combine Two GarageBand Projects in One Song You may occasionally find that you want to import another GarageBand project into your current song. For example, you may have a project (or a portion of a project) that would work perfectly as the intro to the current song you’re recording. Or perhaps you have two versions of the same song that you want to combine into one (a la The Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever). With GarageBand 3.0 you can now do this with ease: 1. Open the Media Browser by clicking the Media Browser button in the lower right corner of the GarageBand window (see Figure 15). FIGURE 15 Click the Media Browser button to open (you guessed it) the Media Browser. 2. Select the Audio tab at the top of the Media Browser and select GarageBand/GarageBand to open your user’s ~/Music/ GarageBand folder in the Media Browser (see Figure 16). FIGURE 16 Select the GarageBand folder to access your GarageBand projects in the Media Browser. Page 84 NOTE If you store your GarageBand projects somewhere other than the default location, you may not be able to access them from within the Media Browser. In this case, you can copy the project into your Users/(your name)/Music/GarageBand folder and access it from there. 3. Double-click the project you want to import in the bottom half of the Media Browser. If you haven’t opened it from within the Media Browser before, GarageBand tells you the project was not saved with an iLife preview and asks if you’d like to open it in GarageBand so you can save it with an iLife preview. Click Yes. GarageBand opens the project and creates a mixdown. 4. Close this project and open the original song. 5. Open the Media Browser again and drag the song you just converted into the current project (see Figure 17). FIGURE 17 Drag the song you want to import into the timeline just like you would a loop. The song appears as an orange region with a small guitar icon next to its name in the timeline. This indicates it’s an imported project. To edit the imported song, do the following: 1. Double-click the imported region in the timeline. This opens up the Track Editor. 2. Click Open Original in the Track Editor. Page 85 3. Make any changes you want to the imported project, then save and close it. 4. GarageBand opens the project you started with, informs you that the imported project has been modified, and asks if you want to update the imported region. Click the Update Region button. That’s it. This process is a bit cumbersome if you are making frequent changes to both projects. It may make sense to finalize one of the songs as much as possible and then import the finished one into the other project. This will save you a lot of back and forth later on. Page 86 LISTEN TO THE SAMPLE SONGS I wrote and recorded two short sample songs to use as examples of the techniques in this ebook. The first uses only Software Instruments and the second uses Real Instruments (except for the drums). You might want to listen to the song files with a set of headphones to hear the different parts more clearly. The Software Instrument Song For the Software Instrument song, called “The 30 Percent Factor” (thirtypercent2.mp3), I began with the acoustic guitar part. It came to me while I was noodling around on my keyboard, so I recorded it on the spot. One of the nice things about Software Instruments is that that once you have recorded something, you can loop it just like a normal Apple loop. I repeated it four times and began coming up with additional parts. I used the Jazz Kit for the drums, and played the part on my keyboard. It’s a slightly unusual drumbeat, but it seemed to flow naturally from the guitar part and it came quickly. I didn’t need to record many takes of it before it felt right. The organ was next. So far the song had a fairly fast pulse, with two instruments playing predominantly eighth notes. I wanted to contrast that with some longer, slower notes, and organ seemed like the perfect instrument to use. I held a couple of simple two-note chords with a staccato figure at the end to tie it into the rest of the song and provide some punctuation. At that point, the song definitely needed some bass; there were absolutely no low frequencies at all. This was fine for the intro, but once the organ came in, I wanted the song to fill out more. I chose to use fretless bass, feeling that the rubbery-smooth sound of the fretless would complement the mellow atmosphere well. The descending slide is worthy of note: this is actually one key press. When you strike a note on the software fretless bass at maximum velocity, GarageBand plays a whole-note slide down. And when you play a note at just below maximum velocity, GarageBand plays the note with vibrato (listen to the first long note of the bass line). These little tricks help make your Software Instruments sound more realistic. Page 87 Next, it was time for the main body of the song. I’m particularly fond of funky electric pianos, so I added that next. I also added another drum track to juice up this section. I wanted something that sounded like handclaps, so I used the Jazz Kit again, but I added Distortion and Auto Wah. The distortion makes the drums sound bigger and noisier, and the auto wah gives them a squelchy sound that mimics handclaps very well. Each handclap is actually two separate notes: a snare flam (a snare drum hit with both sticks slightly off-time from each other) and maracas. When you add the distortion and the auto wah, it sounds like 20 people clapping together. For variety, I added a small break with a new chord progression. I dropped the handclaps during this section and added a drum fill to create some interest. Then, when the main part comes back in, I had the organ play a new, more active part to bring the song to a close. I finished the song by panning some of the instruments off to either side and creating some small fades to make the song flow more organically (see Figure 18). For example, I brought the acoustic guitar up slightly for the finale, and I faded the electric piano down a touch at several points so other instruments could come forward. FIGURE 18 The finished Software Instrument song. Page 88 The Real Instrument Song The second song I recorded for the ebook, “In Over My Head” (inovermyhead8.mp3), uses Real Instruments—guitars, bass, vocals, and percussion. I used many of the techniques described earlier, in order to give you an idea of how they sound in practice and to demonstrate what’s possible with a pretty minimal setup. Recording the basic tracks I started by creating the drumbeat using the Software Instrument drum set Rock Kit; this is the only part of the song that’s not a Real Instrument. I built the beat using the technique described in Recording drum tracks. When I was happy with the result, I added some reverb to punch it up and make the beat sound bigger. I locked the drum tracks to reduce the overload on the system. I also panned the high hat track off to the left a little bit; I knew I would balance it later with another piece of high percussion on the right. I recorded the acoustic guitar next, placing the mic close to the body just below the sound hole, pointed slightly down. I didn’t want to pick up the boominess from the sound hole, and I also wanted to avoid having too much low end in the mix, so I moved the mic until the guitar sounded crisp and jangly, but not too thin. The rhythm of this song is fairly choppy and staccato. Since I was playing chords with a lot of open strings, the strings tended to ring for a while and smooth out the beats, which I didn’t want. I tore a thin strip of rag and placed it behind the strings near the bridge (where the strings meet the body of the guitar). This muted the strings and dampened some of the ringing. I also wrapped another rag around the middle of the low E string—I wasn’t using this string and when I hit it accidentally it added a lot of bass thumping and booming. Wrapping the middle of the low E string controls the vibration a lot better than wrapping the ends, since the middle is where most of the movement occurs. I thought this lone, muted acoustic sounded a little plain for the three chords of the intro, so I recorded a second track of the same part, unmuted this time. This is basic double tracking at its simplest. When you listen to the final song, you can’t really tell that two guitars are playing. It seems to the casual listener like one lovely-sounding guitar, perhaps recorded in stereo. Page 89 I wanted to balance the acoustic guitar with a crunchy electric guitar, so I recorded that next. I ran my electric guitar straight into the preamp and used the Amp Simulation effect for the distortion. I chose the British Clean model, with the gain set about halfway and a lot of Treble and Presence. This gave me a nice jangly, overdriven tone that sounds a bit like the mid-1960s Kinks. The bass came next. Again, I recorded my electric bass directly into the preamp. I wanted a fuzzy sound with a lot of bass and midrange, so the track would blend into the mix and not stand out. I used the Amp Simulation effect again, this time set to American Clean with the gain slightly more than halfway. I adjusted the EQ until I got a sound I liked—kind of growly with a fat middle. With all the basic tracks recorded, it was time for vocals. I’m not much of a singer, so I asked my friend Lisa to come over and sing. I set up a microphone in my living room (complete with homemade windscreen). Lisa has a beautiful voice, so it wasn’t hard to get a good tone. I pointed the mic straight at her mouth and the windscreen kept her the perfect distance from the mic through numerous takes. I had to watch the levels on the preamp pretty carefully, because as Lisa became more relaxed and comfortable with the parts, her singing got louder. This is a pretty common occurrence with singers, so watch those levels! You don’t want to send the singer home only to find that the vocals are audibly clipping. The song includes three vocal parts—the lead vocal and two harmony lines. We recorded several takes of each part. In a couple cases, three of the four lines were perfect, but one needed to be punched in. It was quick and painless to duplicate the track and record another take on the new track. Since there’s so much time between each line, it was a simple matter later on to consolidate both takes onto one track. In the end, I had three vocal tracks, two of which were cobbled together from several takes. While I was putting these together, I remembered I had saved an early take of the vocals with Lisa giggling and saying, “That’s so cute.” I thought it would finish out the song nicely, so I cropped out the rest of that take and added the chatter at the end of the lead vocal track, as the other instruments were fading out. Page 90 I wanted to give the drums a little more life, so I recorded an egg shaker doubling the high hat part. If you don’t have one, go to your local music store and pick one up. They cost about $2 and are quite versatile. Depending how you hold it and how you shake it, you can get a remarkable variety of rhythms out of it. Recording the shaker is a piece of cake—you set up the mic and shake the shaker. Getting a good level isn’t a problem. In fact, I had to turn the track down quite a bit once I’d recorded the part. I wanted the shaker to sit unobtrusively in the mix and not call attention to itself. The final track I recorded was the lead guitar answering the third and fourth lines of the vocal. For this guitar track, I decided I would play through my amp and mic it. I have a pedal called the Blue Tube that contains a little vacuum tube that adds a nice, warm, overdriven tone. I ran the guitar through that and into my amp, which I close-miked slightly off to the side of the speaker cone. I didn’t have to turn the amp up terribly loudly to get a decent sound. Mixing the song After recording the tracks, it was time to mix. I didn’t do anything fancy on this tune, since I liked the way the tracks sounded on their own. This is yet another reminder of why it’s wonderful to spend time at the beginning making sure you like the sound that’s coming into GarageBand. If you position your mics carefully and concentrate on getting good levels and tone, you won’t have much left to do when it comes time to mix. On the other hand, if you’re sloppy and hasty when you’re recording, you’ll be disappointed with your tracks and will need to “fix in the mix.” The problem with fixing it in the mix is that you can never quite get it right, and it will never sound as good as a well-recorded part would have sounded. The first thing I did was add a little EQ to the tracks that needed it. Most of them got a little something tweaked, but pretty minimally. In most cases I used the AUParametricEQ effect, which allows you to adjust very specific frequencies. For example, on the main acoustic guitar track I used two instances of AUParametricEQ, one to boost the low mids for a touch more body, and one to add a little more treble for added presence and sparkle. On the bass, I used the parametric EQ to cut some of the treble frequencies in order to eliminate some of the string clanks. Page 91 I used the pan controls to spread things out in the mix and give the song a nice stereo feel: • I panned the two acoustic guitars off to each side somewhat to give the intro some space and breadth. • I panned the electric rhythm guitar opposite the main acoustic track to separate them during the body of the tune. • I moved the shaker to the right to balance the high hat on the left. • I left the bass, the drums, and the lead vocal in the center. • I panned the background vocals off to the right, one track at about 1:00 and the other at 2:00 (assuming 12:00 is the default, dead center position, like on a clock). • Finally, I placed the lead guitar off to the left to balance the background vocals. The last thing I did was add reverb to a few of the tracks. I added a touch of reverb to the lead vocal, and more on the two backing vocal tracks. Adding more on the backing vocals separates them from the lead vocal and makes them sit back in the mix slightly. I also added reverb to the main acoustic guitar track, which helps to round it out and give it a bit more fullness. Then I listened to the song about 20 more times to see if anything stood out or seemed awkward. I found that the lead guitar wasn’t working well—it sounded nasal and pinched. I tried EQing it, but it didn’t seem to help, so I rerecorded it with the mic farther from the amp. This worked well: I got something that fit in the mix more solidly and added a little more depth of field. TIP It’s always a good idea to listen to the song through several different sets of speakers. Run your Mac’s headphone output through your home stereo. Burn a CD of the mix and listen to it in your car. Often you’ll hear things you didn’t hear through your headphones or computer speakers. While you’re at it, listen to the song alongside other CDs that sound good to your ears. This can help reveal any equalization issues—too much bass, not enough high end, and so on. Page 92 Remember, it’s not that hard to get a beautiful recording as long as you spend some time and energy at the beginning of the process getting great sounds. And just because something sounds good on its own doesn’t mean it will sound good next to everything else. Certain things, like the lead guitar track in this song, need to be heard in the mix, with all the other instruments surrounding it, in order to see if it’s going to work or not (see Figure 19). FIGURE 19 The final Real Instrument song. NOTE For more on mixing, see my other ebook, Take Control of Making Music with GarageBand (http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/garageband-music.html). Page 93 LEARN MORE For additional information, consult these Web sites, books, and magazines. Web Sites Apple’s GarageBand Accessories Guide: A list of GarageBand accessories available directly from Apple. http://www.apple.com/ilife/garageband/accessories.html Apple’s GarageBand Discussion Board: One of the best sources for GarageBand information, tips, and answers. The archives are extensive and extremely useful. I learned a lot from the forum when I started using GarageBand. No question is too tricky, too unusual, or too stupid, and users are for the most part helpful and courteous. http://discussions.apple.com/forum.jspa?forumID=1120 Audio Recording Terms Glossary: A handy one-stop resource for definitions of audio terms. http://www.recordingeq.com/reflib.html GuitarNuts: If you’re interested in upgrading or shielding your electric guitar, this is the site for you. You’ll find more details than you ever wanted to know about guitar wiring. http://www.guitarnuts.com/index.php Home Recording Connection: Another site with information specifically directed at home studio owners. It’s a bit more expert than Tweak’s Guide, but still potentially useful for GarageBand users. http://www.homerecordingconnection.com/index.php iCompositions.com: Another site to share tunes. This one has a nifty, GarageBand-like interface. http://www.icompositions.com/ MacBand.com: A GarageBand song sharing site. MacBand also boasts a loop section, so users can share favorite bass licks or drumbeats. http://www.macband.com/ Page 94 MacJams.com: One of several sites where GarageBanders can post songs and share tips and tricks. They have forums, articles, a buyer’s guide, and a resource library, but their main strength is the huge library of user-contributed songs. http://www.macjams.com/ MacMusic.org: Features Mac-related music news, forums, software downloads, articles, and even a classified section. The site covers all aspects of music on the Mac, not just GarageBand. http://macmusic.org/ OS X Audio: In-depth coverage of all things Mac audio. It gets fairly high-end at times, but there’s still plenty here for GarageBand users. http://www.osxaudio.com/index.php Soundtrack Lounge: Technically a site for Soundtrack, GarageBand’s cousin designed for scoring films. There are forums for both applications, and users can share songs as well. http://www.soundtracklounge.com/ Tweak’s Home Studio Guide: A veritable warehouse of info for the home recordist. The site is full of discussions of processes, technologies, equipment, and philosophies specifically directed at the home studio user. Total newbies and more experienced home engineers will find it useful. http://www.tweakheadz.com/guide.htm Books GarageBand Visual QuickStart Guide by Victor Gavenda, published by Peachpit Press If this ebook wetted your appetite for even more information about every musician’s favorite new toy, the Visual QuickStart Guide is a great reference to turn to next. Harmony and Theory: A Comprehensive Source for All Musicians by Keith Wyatt and Carl Schroeder, published by Hal Leonard This book features simple, straightforward explanations of chords, scales, basic notation, and more advanced subjects as well. If you enjoyed the music theory and want to learn more, this is a good source. Page 95 Melody in Songwriting: Tools and Techniques for Writing Hit Songs by Jack Perricone, published by Berklee Press (Hal Leonard) If your interest lies more in the realm of songwriting, this book has a lot of advice on crafting great melodies and analyzes a number of hit songs to explain why they “work.” Recording Tips for Engineers by Tim Crich, published by Black Ink Publishing An absolute wealth of recording studio wisdom from a true studio veteran. A lot of the information in here has to do with using highpriced equipment and analog tape, but you’ll learn plenty about mic techniques, mixing strategies, and recording theory that serves GarageBand users as well as full-blown audio engineers. Magazines TapeOp: I absolutely adore this magazine. It’s definitely biased toward analog recording, but you’ll find much to learn from the audio gurus that populate its pages. Best of all, if you sign up on the Web, subscriptions are free! http://www.tapeop.com/ Electronic Musician: This magazine, on the other hand, leans heavily towards MIDI and computer-based music making. While they feature very little that is directly GarageBand-related, you’ll find plenty of tips and tricks that you can use in your GarageBand work. But beware, reading this magazine will make you want to go out and buy more toys! http://www.emusician.com/ Page 96 APPENDIX A: GARAGEBAND MIDI DRUM SOUNDS Table 3, below, shows the keys on your MIDI keyboard that map to drum sounds in the Rock Drums kit. In most cases, other acoustic drum kits are similar. The digital drum kits differ more significantly from this list, so you’ll have to experiment to find sounds you like. Table 3: Key Map for the Rock Drums Kit Key Instrument Key Instrument G#0 Open-closed high hat F3 High timbale A0 Snare roll F#3 Low timbale A#0 Pedal high hat G3 High agogo B0 Bass Drum 1 G#3 Low agogo C1 Bass Drum 2 A3 Cabasa C#1 Rim shot A#3 Maracas D1 Snare 1 B3 High whistle D#1 Snare flam C4 Low whistle E1 Snare 2 C#4 Guiro (high) F1 Low floor tom D4 Guiro (low) F#1 Closed high hat D#4 Clave G1 High floor tom E4 Wood Block (high) G#1 Half-open high hat F4 Wood Block (low) A1 Tom 1a F#4 Mute Cuica A#1 Open high hat G4 Open Cuica B1 Tom 1b G#4 Mute Triangle C2 Tom 2a A4 Open Triangle C#2 Crash cymbal 1 A#4 Egg Shaker D2 Tom 2b B4 Sleigh bells D#2 Ride cymbal 1 C5 Bell tree E2 China crash C#5 Gong (continues) Page 97 Table 3: Key Map for the Rock Drums Kit (continued) Key Instrument Key Instrument F2 Ride bell D5 Taiko drum F#2 Tambourine D#5 Bowed cymbal G2 Splash cymbal E5 Guiro 2 G#2 Cowbell F5 Udu A2 Crash cymbal 2 F#5 Metal drum A#2 Vibraslap G5 Cajon B2 Ride cymbal 2 G#5 Cajon 2 C3 High bongo A5 Goat hoof rattle C#3 Low bongo A#5 Rain stick D3 High conga (muted) B5 Tom with jingles D#3 High conga (open) C6 Finger snaps E3 Low conga Page 98 APPENDIX B: TROUBLESHOOTING Like most programs, GarageBand has its share of quirks and issues. The tips and workarounds below should help you remain productive and keep using the program to its full potential. Improving Performance It’s not uncommon for GarageBand to stop in the middle of playback or recording and greet you with confusing messages like “System Overload” or “Disk Is Too Slow.” If this happens to you, here are some suggestions: • Quit all other programs: Especially quit programs that perform background tasks such as checking for email. GarageBand is greedy; it wants all your computer’s attention. • Turn off FileVault: If you use Apple’s FileVault to encrypt your data, either turn it off or store your song files outside your Home folder. Remember that the Documents and Music folders are in the Home folder, and GarageBand automatically stores song files in the Music folder. • Maximize the buffer size: In GarageBand’s Audio/MIDI preferences, set the buffer size to Maximum Number of Simultaneous Tracks. • Lock your tracks: Locking tracks, especially Software Instrument tracks, greatly reduces the processor drain. When you lock a track, GarageBand renders it to disk, meaning that instead of having to generate instrument sounds and effects on the fly, all the program has to do is play the rendered track. It’s much easier for your poor little overworked processor. When I see the dreaded red playhead or get system overload messages, I can make the problem go away by locking a couple of tracks. To lock a track, click the Lock Track button in the track header. The next time you press play, GarageBand makes you wait while it renders the newly-locked track(s) to disk, and then plays the song normally. Note that after you lock a track, you can still change its volume and panning, but if you want to make any other changes you must unlock it first. Page 99 NOTE Software Instruments (the green tracks) are particularly CPU-hungry. The computer synthesizes the sound on the fly, using software algorithms for the timbre of the instrument and MIDI data for the actual notes played. In Real Instrument tracks, on the other hand, all the computer has to do is play back previously recorded audio—a much easier task. • Reduce the load on your computer’s graphics processor: GarageBand’s beautiful interface comes at a cost—your Mac must render all those beautiful pixels on the fly, while simultaneously crunching all the data needed to create Software Instruments and real-time effects. Try the following to reduce the graphics load: • Reduce the size of the GarageBand window. The less the Mac has to draw, the less work it has to do. • Zoom out so that you can see the whole song. Constantly drawing the next part of the song as the playhead scrolls requires a lot of computational power. • Hide the track mixer column by clicking the triangle on the right end of the Tracks header. The bouncing colored lights on the level meters use CPU power too. • If all else fails, hide the entire program. Choose GarageBand > Hide GarageBand or Option-click the Desktop while your song plays. That way your Mac doesn’t have to draw anything at all. • Turn off unused effects: Examine your tracks carefully to see if any effects are turned on but set to zero. If so, turn the effect off by deselecting its checkbox. GarageBand uses resources to process active effects even if they’re not affecting the sound at all. Reverb in particular is especially processor-intensive, but it’s a good idea to turn off Echo as well if you’re not using it. • Use fewer Software Instruments: Software Instruments (the green tracks) are particularly CPU-hungry. The computer synthesizes the sound on the fly, using software algorithms for the timbre of the instrument and MIDI data for the actual notes played. In Real Instrument tracks, on the other hand, all the computer has to do is play back previously recorded audio—a much easier task. Page 100 • Convert Software Instrument loops to Real Instrument loops: Now that GarageBand lets you lock tracks to conserve processing power, this trick may not be as essential for some users, but it still deserves a mention. Hold down the Option key while dragging a Software Instrument loop into an empty part of the timeline to convert the loop into a Real Instrument track. You can also drag Software Instruments into an already existing Real Instrument track and it will convert automatically. But beware, once a Software Instrument loop has been converted, you can no longer edit the individual notes. Unfortunately, GarageBand doesn’t offer an easy way to convert an existing Software Instrument track into a Real Instrument track. Your best bet at this point is to lock the track. • Bounce down to fewer tracks: Again, this is not so crucial now that we have track locking, but bouncing is still a viable technique. To bounce down a group of tracks, first save a copy of your song, just in case. Then pick a group of instruments—say, all the percussion tracks. Make sure you like the balance among all the instruments in the section; you won’t be able to go back and turn the maracas down once you do this. Mute all the tracks other than the percussion section and export the song to iTunes. When the song opens in iTunes, Control-click it and choose Show Song File to locate the song in the Finder; then, drag this song file back into GarageBand into a new track. Your percussion section will take up only one track, and you can delete all the tracks you used to make it. Do this as often as you like. You can also use this method to convert a Software Instrument track to a Real Instrument track. In this case, export only the one track you want to convert and reimport it into GarageBand. It will use up fewer of your precious CPU cycles, but again, you won’t be able to edit the individual notes. Page 101 NOTE Bouncing down to fewer tracks is a practice that was used often in the early days of multitrack recording. Through most of the 1960s the top-of-the-line recording consoles had only four tracks. A band would record backing instruments—drums, bass, guitars or keyboards— onto these four tracks, which the recording engineers would then mix onto two tracks on another machine (one for the left channel of a stereo mix, one for the right). This left two open tracks for vocals or additional instruments. This process could be repeated several times, but after a while the sound quality would begin to degrade, much like making a photocopy of a photocopy. Audio Delays Depending on your input device, you may experience out-of-synch audio, called latency, during recording. The following suggestions should help get your audio back in synch: • Reset the Audio Buffer: Go to the Audio/MIDI preferences pane and switch the buffer size under Optimize For. This seems to reset the buffer and often eliminates latency issues. • Quit GarageBand: Quitting and relaunching GarageBand should help if resetting the buffer doesn’t do the trick. • Restart: If all else fails, restart. A fresh system can do wonders! Page 102 GLOSSARY Active electronics: An electric guitar with active circuitry has an on-board preamp that boosts the signal beyond what’s possible from the passive-circuitry in most guitars. AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format): A sound file format developed by Apple. Most Macintosh audio software can handle the AIFF format, and GarageBand exports files in AIFF format. Expect a GarageBand-exported AIFF file to consume about 10 MB of disk space per minute of song. See MP3. amplifier: A device that increases the amplitude of a signal, thereby making it louder. baffles: Pieces of sound-absorbing material used to block sound waves from entering or leaving a certain space. bass: The low frequencies of human hearing. See midrange, treble. bleed: A situation where audio from one device is unintentionally picked up by another during recording. For example, if a singer is wearing Walkman-style headphones to monitor the song’s instruments, the music could be picked up by the microphone she’s using. chord: Any combination of two or more tones sounded simultaneously. See harmony. chorus: An effect that simulates the sound of several instruments playing together in unison. Used to thicken a track or give it a more stereo feel, or when overused, as a special effect (listen to the bass on this Siouxsie and the Banshees song). clipping: Digital distortion caused when output levels are set too high. Every track, as well as the master output levels, has clipping indicators: red dots that light up when your output goes “into the red.” Clipping is bad, even if you think you can’t hear it. close miking: The technique of placing a mic within a foot or so of the source to pick up mostly the direct sound and minimize reverberations from the room. See distant miking. Page 103 condenser mic: A more sensitive (and more expensive) alternative to a dynamic mic. Unlike dynamic mics, condensers need a power source. They are also more delicate than dynamics, and they are better at picking up high frequencies. See dynamic mic. consonant: A chord or interval that is stable and pleasing to the ear. See dissonant. delay: An echo effect. U2’s guitarist The Edge is famous for using delay on many U2 songs. D.I., direct injection: Often used when plugging an instrument directly into a recording console or P.A. system, a D.I. or direct box changes the electrical impedance of the instrument signal to that of a microphone. dissonant: Any chord or interval that sounds unstable, tense, or harsh. Combining two loops in different keys sometimes results in dissonance. See consonant. distant miking: The technique of placing a mic far from the source so you pick up room reverberations along with the direct sound. See close miking. distortion: An effect that simulates an overdriven amplifier. Used almost constantly in some form or another in rock songs from the 1960s to today. dynamic mic: Generally the cheapest and simplest of microphones. Less sensitive than condenser microphones, but they’re also a lot more sturdy and are often better at picking up low frequencies. See condenser mic. dynamics: Variations in volume in a piece of music. effects: Any sound-altering device that’s added in the Details pane of the Track Info pane. These include reverb, echo, and EQ. See delay, EQ, reverb. EQ (equalization): A set of filters that lets you balance the bass, midrange, and treble frequencies of a track. It also includes the Bass Reduction and Treble Reduction filters, which cut all frequencies above or below a certain adjustable cutoff point. Page 104 fundamental: The primary note in a musical tone, as distinguished from the overtones, or harmonics. See harmonics. generator: The sound source for Software Instruments. For some instruments, the generator is a set of prerecorded samples; for others it’s a synthesized sound created by a computer algorithm. See sample, synthesizer. half step: The smallest interval commonly used in Western music; the distance between a black key and the adjacent white keys on the piano (or the distance between two adjacent white keys if there is no black key in between). See interval. harmonics: All musical tones consist of a fundamental, which is the primary tone heard, and a series of harmonic overtones, which are quieter but add to the overall tonal color of the sound. Harmonics always follow the same pattern, the first being one octave above the fundamental, the second a fifth above that, and so on. For more on the harmonic series, see the following Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonic_series_(music). See fundamental. harmony: The vertical dimension of music; the interaction of notes sounded simultaneously to produce chords. Harmony also refers to the progression of chords over the course of a piece of music. See chord. high-hat: A pair of cymbals, one face up and the other face down on a stand, arranged so that the drummer can control the space between them using a pedal. interval: The vertical distance between two pitches; the interval between a white key on the piano and the adjacent black key is called a half step. key: A selection of tones that gravitates toward a root note, or tonic. A song in the key of C is based on the notes of the C scale (all the white keys on the piano) and naturally gravitates toward C. Keys are commonly divided into major keys, which generally sound happy, and minor keys, which sound more melancholy. See root, scale. Page 105 latency: Latency is a delay between when you play a note and when GarageBand records it (and when you hear it in your headphones). In extreme cases, latency can make it impossible to play along with the song in proper time. level: The volume or loudness of an audio signal. loop: A short segment of music that can be repeated seamlessly over time. GarageBand ships with over 1000 professionally produced loops. measure: A rhythmic unit of organization. Most popular songs have four beats per measure, and in general the snare drum accents the second and fourth beats of the measure (the backbeats). melody: A series of notes with a pleasing and recognizable shape. In general, the most effective melodies are relatively simple and are easy to hum. microphone: A device that converts sound waves into an electrical signal, usually fed into an amplifier or piece of recording equipment. MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface): A digital language used to connect synthesizers, computers, and other electronic instruments. MIDI information includes details about the note played, its velocity (or volume), and any vibrato or pitch bending that was applied. midrange: The frequencies between the bass and the treble frequencies. See bass, treble. mixing: Adjusting the individual track volumes, panning, and effects to make parts of a song fit together harmoniously and effectively. MP3: A compressed audio format. Much smaller than the AIFF format, it typically requires about 1 MB of disk space per minute of song. See AIFF. mute: A button that lets you temporarily disable a track. note: Any single pitch or tone produced by a musical instrument. Page 106 octave: The most stable interval in Western music. An octave is the distance between two adjacent notes with the same name. These two notes sound like the same note, only higher or lower versions of each other. See interval. pan: A knob that lets you control the apparent position of a track between the left and right speakers. pickup: An electrical component on an instrument (most commonly a guitar or bass guitar) that converts the vibrations of the strings or the body of the instrument into an electrical signal. Not to be confused with a microphone, which converts sound waves (vibrations in the air) into an electrical signal. See microphone. polar pattern: A measure of how directional a microphone is. Unidirectional and cardioid mics pick up primarily what they’re pointing at. Omni-directional mics, on the other hand, pick up sound from all directions. Bi-directional or figure 8 mics pick up sound from two directions simultaneously—great for two singers, for example. preamp: A type of amplifier designed to bring a weak signal up to line level, the standard signal strength required by audio recording equipment. See amplifier. preroll: The option to hear a one measure count-in before recording starts. This helps you get your bearings and pick up the groove of the song. preset: A saved instrument sound or effects setting. Real Instrument presets consist of a predetermined set of effects. Software Instrument presets also include pre-established effects, and the generator has been set up for a certain instrument sound. Effects presets have settings already established for a particular result, for example the Equalizer preset Add Bass Clarity. See effect, generator. punching in: Recording over a short segment of a previous take, generally to fix a mistake. region: A contiguous segment of recorded music in a GarageBand track. A cropped segment of a loop is a region, as is a loop that repeats 20 times. resonant frequencies: The shape and size of a room determines how particular frequencies will affect it. In many rooms, several Page 107 frequencies resonate loudly and color the sound of anything playing in the room. Creative use of baffles and screens can help minimize these reflections. reverb: An effect that simulates an acoustical environment, such as a small room or a large arena. See effect. rhythm: The beat or pulse of a piece of music, including accented notes, measures, and all other aspects of musical time. root: The dominant note in a chord or scale; the note from which a chord or scale seems to originate. Also called the tonic. See chord, scale. sample: A recorded sound or musical note. Typically, samples are “mapped” to the keys on a keyboard, so they can be played like a piano or a synthesizer. A set of samples of a trombone, for example, could be played on a MIDI keyboard, and the performance would sound as if an actual trombone were playing the notes. See MIDI. scale: A series of notes progressing up or down in a stepwise fashion. The most common used in Western music are the major and minor scales. See key. slapback: A type of short echo frequently heard in rockabilly songs. Similar to the effect you get when singing in the bathroom. snare drum: A drum fitted with wires, or snares, on the bottom that produce a crisp, rattling effect when the drum is struck. solo: A button in GarageBand that lets you listen to an individual track by itself. It is useful for adjusting effects and EQ on a particular track. synthesizer: An electronic instrument, usually played with a keyboard, that artificially generates waveforms. These waveforms can be combined and manipulated by the synthesizer to produce complex sounds, either to mimic other instruments or to produce totally unique noises. tempo: The speed at which a piece of music is performed. Ballads have a slow tempo, whereas high-energy dance music often has a fast tempo. Page 108 texture: The interaction of melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic elements within a piece of music. A solo cello holding long notes is one kind of texture. A jazz band playing complex rhythms and harmonies while a saxophone takes a solo is another, completely different kind of texture. timbre: Tone color. A violin can produce certain musical timbres, whereas those produced by a piano are quite different. An electric guitar can produce lots of different timbres, depending on many factors (including the amplifier, the volume of the sound, and whether effects are being used). tonic: The dominant note in a chord or scale; the note from which a chord or scale seems to originate. Also called the root. See scale, chord. track: In GarageBand, each track usually carries a separate musical instrument. Each track is independent, and you can adjust its volume, pan, and effects without affecting other tracks in the song. transient: The loud initial peak that occurs in sounds such as drum hits and electric guitar strums. Synthesizer washes and other sounds that build gradually don’t have transient peaks. treble: The highest frequencies of human hearing. See bass, midrange. velocity: A measurement of how strongly a key on a MIDI keyboard is struck. There are 128 levels of velocity, 0 being the softest and 127 being the loudest. However, be aware that velocity doesn’t always control volume. windscreen: A screen placed between a microphone and the source that reduces or eliminates excessive amounts of air blowing onto the mic and causing noise and distortion. XLR: A common 3-pin connector used to connect microphones. If someone refers to a “mic cord,” they’re talking about a cord with XLR connectors. Y-cord: A cord with a stereo jack on one end and two mono jacks on the other, used for splitting a stereo signal into two mono signals. Page 109 ABOUT THIS EBOOK In contrast to traditional print books, Take Control ebooks offer clickable links, full-text searching, and free minor updates. We hope you find them both useful and enjoyable to read. About the Author Jeff Tolbert is a musician, painter, and graphic designer living in Seattle. He plays bass and guitar and is becoming passable at keyboards. He has played in numerous bands over the years, including What Fell?, the Goat-Footed Senators, the diary of Anne Frank String Quartet, 80 Bones, and the Fireproof Beauties, and with James Howard. He is currently playing bass with Tiger Zane. When GarageBand came out, Jeff got so excited about making music on his iBook that he went out and spent close to $1000 on music equipment and software. He now routinely stays up until the wee hours creating songs and textures to amuse and irritate himself and his friends. http://www.jefftolbert.com/ Author’s Acknowledgments First and foremost, I would like to thank my mother. (If I didn’t thank her I would never hear the end of it.) It’s probably also wise to thank my father and my sister. Without Jeff Carlson, this ebook would never exist. Jeff is a fine officemate and the one who introduced me to Adam and Tonya Engst, the wonderful and intrepid publishers of this and all the other fine ebooks in the Take Control series. Collect them all! A special extra-huge thank you goes out to Geoff Duncan, TidBITS technical editor and musician extraordinaire. If not for Geoff, much of the musical information in this ebook would be incomprehensible or outright incorrect. You rock, dude! I would also like to thank a few people not named Jeff. First and foremost, Lisa Gallo, the honey-voiced singer on “In Over My Head.” Page 110 Lisa, my friend, you’ve taken your first step on the road to rock-androll stardom. May the rest of the steps be as fun and as easy! My officemates always thank me in their books, so now it’s my turn to thank Larry Chen, Glenn Fleishman, Agen Schmitz, and former officemates David Blatner and Steve Roth. A more wonderful group of guys has never existed before on this green earth. And a special thanks to new officemate Kim Ricketts, whose baked goods are more wonderful than anything I’ve ever tasted! Thanks as well to Victor Gavenda, author of Peachpit Press’s GarageBand Visual QuickStart Guide. After writing the initial draft of my other ebook, I did a technical review of Victor’s book. The cross-pollination of ideas made both books better and more complete. Last, but certainly not least, thanks to Anna, Skyler, Jessica, Laura, Kyra, Coco, Elaine, Carl, Peter, and Alison—and, of course, John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Shameless Plug If you don’t have it already, be sure to get a copy of Take Control of Making Music with GarageBand, my first ebook in the Take Control series. It covers using loops, basic song composition, and mixing in GarageBand. http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/garageband-music.html About the Publisher TidBITS Electronic Publishing has been publishing online since 1990 when publishers Adam and Tonya Engst first created their online newsletter, TidBITS, about Macintosh- and Internet-related topics. TidBITS has been in continuous, weekly production since then. Adam and Tonya are known in the Macintosh world as writers, editors, and speakers. They are also parents to Tristan, who thinks ebooks about trains, clipper ships, and castles would be cool. Page 111 At the TidBITS Web site you can subscribe to TidBITS for free, join in TidBITS Talk discussions, or search 15 years of news, reviews, and editorial analysis (http://www.tidbits.com/). Production Credits • Cover: Jeff Carlson, http://www.necoffee.com/ • Take Control logo: Jeff Tolbert, http://jefftolbert.com/ • Editor: Jeff Carlson, http://www.necoffee.com/ • Editor in Chief: Tonya Engst, http://www.tidbits.com/tonya/ • Publisher: Adam Engst, http://www.tidbits.com/adam/ Thanks to Mom and Dad for picking up Tristan from school on Wednesday. Production powered by the Dire Straights. Page 112 Take Control of Recording with GarageBand ISBN: 1-933671-12-2 March 2006, Version 3.0 Copyright © 2006, Jeff Tolbert. All rights reserved. TidBITS Electronic Publishing 50 Hickory Road Ithaca, NY 14850 USA http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/ TAKE CONTROL ebooks help readers regain a measure of control in an oftentimes out-of-control universe. 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All product names and services are used in a an editorial fashion only, with no intention of infringement of the trademark. No such use, or the use of any trade name , is meant to convey endorsement or other affiliation with this title. Take Control of Recording with GarageBand is an independent publication and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Apple Computer, Inc. Apple, Finder, GarageBand, Jam Pack, Macintosh, Mac, and Mac OS, are trademarks or registered trademarks of Apple Computer, Inc. FEATURED TITLES Take control of computing with the Take Control series of highly practical, tightly focused electronic books! Written by leading technology authors, edited by TidBITS, and delivered to your electronic doorstep within moments of “going to press,” Take Control ebooks provide exactly the technical help you need. Click any image below or visit our Web store to add to your ebook collection! 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