How to record a full track with GarageBand

GarageBand can be found in many Apple products. It is a free, simple and functional music creation program with many ready-made presets. It is easy to master to try yourself in music and learn how to compose full-fledged tracks. Many musicians write music to it for themselves and friends, there are examples of commercial recordings (Grimes, Rihanna, Usher). This article will teach you how to create your own tracks in GarageBand in 10 easy steps.

Before you start
Before starting work, the cook sharpens a knife, the guitarist tunes the guitar, and the home producer updates the software. To get the best results, it’s worth updating:

The program itself – open the AppStore, click on the updates tab and select GarageBand.
Sound libraries. This will help make the program more stable, add new sounds and open up more possibilities for the musician. You can update libraries one at a time by clicking the down arrow next to the tool. Or, you can update everything at once using the menu (GarageBand – “Sound Libraries” – “Download All Available Sounds”).
Step 1. Creating a project
At the first start, a window appears with a choice of actions. In addition to working with projects, the program offers a school of guitar and piano lessons, and in the store you can download courses for other instruments.

To get started, you need to create a new empty project. By clicking the More details option, you can select:

The tempo of the song. This is the foundation of everything. Historically, many hits were recorded at 120 bpm. This is one of the most popular tempos and is therefore the default. But you can always tap your own by clicking on the “Tap Tempo” button.
Key. At the Philharmonic before the concert, a woman comes on stage and announces: “Shostakovich, Symphony 11, G minor.” The last phrase denotes the tonality of the piece: tonic (i.e., the main tone in which the song is built) and scale (major or minor).
The size. 2 \ 4 will look like a march, 3 \ 4 – like a waltz, 4 \ 4 – the most familiar ear, it is set by default.
Sound input and output devices. Typically an external or built-in sound card .
If the number of introductory settings is confusing, you can just create a new project and understand everything in practice. Along with mastering the program and the basics of music theory, it will become clear that work on a track begins with the choice of its tempo, key and size.

Step 2. Interface
When you start a new project, the program offers to create one of four tracks:

Virtual instrument – a plug-in that emulates the sound of a piano, violin, flute, guitar and everything that is in the sound library.
Audio from microphone or line-in – to record a voice or live acoustic instrument.
Audio from guitar or bass – to record electronic instruments and process with an amplifier emulator (ampsim).
Virtual Drummer – Easy to set up drum machine with presets from different genres of music
The program interface is intuitive: a space bar starts and stops playback, a big red button is responsible for recording. A visual representation of the part appears next to the track name and the instrument icon during recording.


Step 3. Virtual Instruments
GarageBand offers a wide variety of instruments to use in your projects: synthesizers, electric guitars, bass guitars, orchestral instruments, drums, and even vocals.

Moreover, the program is able to turn an ordinary push-button keyboard into a midi-keyboard, so you don’t even need special devices to control all the variety of instruments. The virtual keyboard is invoked by pressing “Command key + K”. In the case of mobile devices, these will be black and white piano keys or a guitar neck.

Of course, all notes will be of the same volume (set by the “Sensitivity” parameter), you will have to work with dynamics after recording. Therefore, if the process is delayed, you can look towards two-three-octave midi-keyboards – they take up little space on the table and seriously speed up the process of creating music, especially if there is a music school behind you.Keyboard MIDI Arturia MiniLab mkII 13 099 *
Step 4. Track the microphone
This is not only a vocals track, as you can record acoustic guitar, violin, double bass, drums and any other acoustic instrument using the microphone .

To hear yourself during recording, you need to hold down the signal monitoring button on the selected track. To prevent the click of the metronome from recording with the vocals or violin, you will need headphones. Even ordinary “plugs” will help in this matter, and if they are not enough, then you should pay attention to the closed covering headphones for recording. A studio microphone or recorder and a prepared room will help you get a good result .

Microphone Shure Motiv MV7-S 21 199 *
Step 5. Guitar track
This step may not be useful for those who don’t play guitar. But guitarists and bassists will be interested to know that GarageBand has a good guitar processor built in with many ready-made presets – from clean and overdriven to experimental. On the net you can find comparisons with real amplifiers to evaluate the sound quality, and here is an article on what you need for professional guitar recording.

In addition, the program allows you to fine-tune the amplifier, change the cabinet, microphone and its position.

GarageBand also has some pretty good emulations of iconic guitar and bass pedals that you can add to your pedalboard with a single click.

Finally, the program has a built-in tuner – it is important to tune the guitar before each recording session and tune periodically during it.

Step 6. Drum machine
GarageBand has come up with the easiest-to-operate, yet great-sounding drum machine. The user has access to a list of musical genres, each of which is played by several virtual drummers. Each has its own style, presentation and manner of play. It’s easy to switch between them to find out which suits the track best.

In the editing window, you can select grooves from presets, adjust the dynamics and expression (how hard the virtual drummer will hit the virtual drums). You can also adjust the volume of each element of the drum kit, increase the number of fills , or add swing . In this way, you can find the right groove for your newly composed musical phrase in a couple of seconds.

Step 7. Editing midi
Parts of virtual instruments are recorded in midi format. Moreover, not the sound itself is recorded, but information about it – note pitch, duration, volume, etc. After that, the resulting part can be fed to any virtual instrument, which is very convenient when choosing sounds for a song.

You can work with the midi part in the editor, which is usually called the piano roll. It can be called up by double-clicking on the area of ​​the part that needs to be edited, or by pressing the E hotkey.

In the part editor, you can manually adjust the duration of any notes, delete unnecessary ones, add missing ones, or even completely draw the desired part. There is also a quantize function that allows you to adjust the duration of notes automatically. It can be found in the “Region” tab, for correct operation you need to specify the desired duration of notes (the Time Quantize parameter). This feature makes it possible to bring your sketch curves to a decent result in seconds.

Step 8. Editing audio
Audio tracks are displayed in the form of a sound wave, from which it is intuitively clear where the sound is loud, where is quiet, and where there is nothing. The first rule is that even the loudest sounds should not turn into peaks that get out of the audio track. This is called clipping and causes distortion (crackling, grinding). To get rid of it, you need to tidy up the input signal level on the audio card. That is why external desktop audio cards with convenient input gain control are best suited for home producers.

The clean signal should not go beyond the field boundaries

External sound card FOCUSRITE Scarlett 2i2 3nd Gen 18 599 *
The second rule is that it is better to remove the silence before and after the game, since even the quietest signal contains noise in the amplification circuit.

If there is only one track, then it’s okay, but with several dozen you need to get rid of the slightest noise in order to maintain the clarity of the sound. Fortunately, trimming an audio track is very simple: just click on the edge and cut the track on the desired side.

Step 9. Working with loops
Loops are fragments of parts of various instruments looped over several measures: from drums and bass to guitars and even vocals. Many musicians use ready-made loops to speed up their composing. Pressing the O button calls up a library of loops with an easy-to-use browser for quick searches by instrument, genre, or description.

If the libraries have not been updated, then many of them will have to be downloaded individually. Next to each loop, the duration in beats is indicated, you can listen to them with a mouse click, and the fragment you like can be easily dragged with the cursor to the desired audio track. It is most convenient to operate loops using midi-keyboards and pad-equipped controllers: fragments can be linked to the pads and played like notes.

Keyboard MIDI IK Multimedia iRig Pads 8 750 *
Step 10. Mixing and mastering
GarageBand offers a huge number of presets to quickly mix your tracks. Just click on the track to bring up the list of presets. Hotkey B opens fine-tuning. There you can manually adjust the values ​​of the compressor, EQ, modulation, delay, and other processing plug-ins. It is also possible to connect external plugins.

Before exporting the final track, you need to put a limiter on the master bus (“Track” – “Show master track”), which limits the peaks of the audio signal and prevents clipping.

It flattens the sound wave and compresses the signal, as a result, it becomes quieter. Therefore, you need to manually raise its volume in the Gain field, and also reduce the signal at the output (Output Level) by half a dB, so that the limiter has some headroom. Studio monitors or headphones will be of great help in mixing and mastering . With them, it is much easier to hear changes in the dynamics of the signal and any distortion.

Wired headphones Beyerdynamic DT 990 (250 Ohm) gray 16 999 *
The limiter is the minimum required for mastering, but advanced users can take advantage of the compressor, equalizer, signal analyzer and other plugins.

In the Share menu, select Export Song To Disk to render the final result. In the window that appears, the name of the composition, the format and the audio quality are set. For rough drafts, mp3 will also work, but for streaming services or recording on a CD and distributing the future hit to friends, you will need audio in * .wav format.

Any long journey starts with a small step. To understand the basics, you don’t have to try to make hits right away – you just need to sketch something, but bring it up to rendering, and then try to do something more complex. GarageBand provides many more features – auto-tuning vocals, equalizing audio parts, sheet music, automation, and much more that is found in professional-grade DAWs. Curiously, it even lets you upgrade itself to Logic Pro.

There is enough room for growth to master the creation of compositions from recording to mastering and get a result that was not even dreamed of by home producers just 15 years ago. In the end, you can try yourself at making covers of hits on iPhone , some of which collect tens of millions of views.