Film Scoring/Butchering MIDI Files/Importing Beethoven into GarageBand

These instructions are designed for GarageBand 3 plus the sounds of a symphony orchestra.
GarageBand is easy and fast yet powerful enough to do film scoring.
Please, tell me if you find anything as good!

This course in music and filmmaking is:
Film scoring introduction for filmmakers
This lesson is:
Lesson #4 - Butchering MIDI files with GarageBand
The pages in this lesson are:
Page 1: Borrowing from classical MIDI files
Page 2: Importing Beethoven into GarageBand
Page 3a: Importing Starwars into GarageBand
Page 3b: Simplifying Starwars in GarageBand
Page 3c: Modifying Starwars in GarageBand
Page 4: Creating more sounds from Midi files - 6 points
Page 5: Create a musical cue for the motion picture "Graduation Day" - #2 - 20 points

Importing Beethoven into GarageBand

A simple example

I will show you a simple way to take chords from a piece of classical music.
I like Beethovan so I prefer to take chords from his works whenever possible.

Step #1

Step 1 - Locate the file on the Internet

The first step is to find a Midi file that you like.
Today, I am looking for Beethoven's 9th symphony, 4th movement. I found this music at:
Screen shot of the midi web page

Step #2

Step 2 - Drag to GarageBand

After I download the midi file, I go to the finder and drag the icon of the midi file to GarageBand. This tells GarageBand to Import the file and assign it to multiple tracks in GarageBand.
Note: If GarageBand does not accept the Midi file, I open the Midi file in QuickTime Movie Player and export the file as a Midi file (going from Midi file to Midi file). This cleans up the file and prepares it for GarageBand.
As the file is imported into GarageBand, it expands greatly taking up very many tracks.
Then I play the file.
GarageBand with the midi file

click on picture to enlarge

Step #3

Step 3 - Isolate the notes

I only want a small section of the music. Therefore, I must isolate the notes I want otherwise the file will be too large and awkward to work with.
To trim the file, I select all the tracks and put the play marker before the notes I want. Then I select SPLIT from the menu.
I do the same thing again at the end of the notes I am interested in. Now each track has three regions.
Don't worry about accuracy. Extra notes can be eliminated later. Better to have too many notes than not enough.
A track can be broken into regions

click on picture to enlarge

Step #4

Step 4 - Delete unwanted regions

After I have broken each track into regions, I carefully select the regions that I don't want and delete them.
For this example, this is all I have left.
Now, the file is much easier to work with!
The same tune reduced to a few chords

click on picture to enlarge

Step #5

Step 5 - Magnify the image

Now that I have elimiated everything except the chord, I magnify the image to full screen width.
I quickly see that many of the tracks have no notes. These tracks are empty.
I get rid of the tracks which are empty simply by deleting the entire track.
Now I see the notes more clearly in GarageBand

click on picture to enlarge

Step #6

Step 6 - Turn off ugly tracks

Now I have only the tracks with notes. However, most of the tracks are either not interesting or have instruments which I do not find interesting.
In GarageBand, you can turn off the track by clicking on the icon for silencing the track.
It is much easier to see without empty tracks

click on picture to enlarge

Step #7

Step 7 - Select better instruments

GarageBand uses general rules for importing Midi files. It assumes that all Midi files are designed for use with General Midi sound modules. Therefore, the imported file will sound good but not always great.
I can easily try each track using different musical instruments. I try either to find better instruments or to try to get totally different sounds. This part is really fun!
I have a whole symphony orchestra to select from

click on picture to enlarge

Step #8

Step 8 - The finished file

Once I try all the tracks and change the instruments until I like the final results, I eliminate the unwanted (unused) tracks.
To make some of the notes more realistic, I fade the notes out and sometimes I even fade the notes in so it sounds real.
Now I have the final GarageBand file.
Adjusting note levels in GarageBand

click on picture to enlarge

Step #9

Step 9 - Convert to OGG

I export the GarageBand file to an audio file. I open Audacity (or any audio processing program) and create a new page. I import the audio file and trim it if needed.
I save the audio file to my hard drive. Done!
The notes in Audacity

click on picture to enlarge

Title of two box section

Listen to the music

Listen to the final result. I have taking a long piece by Beethovan and extracted just one set of chords.
This might seem like a lot of work for just two notes. But two notes from Beethovan sound much better than two notes from me.
Thanks Beethovan!
Listen to this

Now to another example

The next page

For another example of butchering midi files, look at the next page of this lesson which shows how I imported and butchered a Midi file from Starwars.

Contact your instructor

Your instructor for this film scoring class is Robert Elliott.
You can email me by clicking here.