GarageBand/Getting Started

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Getting started scoring with GarageBand

Getting Started With GarageBand

GarageBand is very simple yet it produces professional quality sound. Best of all, GarageBand feels comfortable to use.

The secret of GarageBand

Because GarageBand is so simple, some of the tools are hidden. You have to search a little to find all the tools that you need to create film scores.

Software Instruments

To get started with GarageBand, we will concentrate on creating moods made with the virtual "software instruments" which live inside your computer.

1. Start by selecting a new track and select "Software Instruments". Then select "Musical Typing" in the menu and learn how to create musical notes.

2. Then try recording your musical keystrokes by clicking on the record button. Turn off the metronome if it annoys you.

3. Finally, try playing back your music by clicking on the rewind and then the play buttons.

Jam Pack:Symphony Orchestra/Boldt Packages

By itself, GarageBand is great fun!

But GarageBand can do a whole lot more if it has the musical instruments of a symphony orchestra.

It is Jam Pack:Symphony Orchestra and the Boldt Packages which makes GarageBand useful for filmmakers to create simple but effective film scores for their motion pictures.

That is what you need!!!!

Keep it simple!

When you start with GarageBand, you will quickly want to use all the wonderful features of this fantastic program. DON'T!

(1) Apple Audio Loops - NEVER!

GarageBand comes with pre-recorded sound files called "Apple Loops". You can access the Apple Loops in the Loop Browser.

Apple's audio Loops are wonderful for creating songs and for creating background music for multimedia and event video. But Apple audio Loops are not good for filmmakers who want to score dramatic productions. For now, never use Apple audio Loops.

  • Apple also has some MIDI loops. These loops are OK because you can modify them. You cannot change the notes of audio loops.

(2) Real Instruments

GarageBand allows you to record audio using a microphone. Therefore, you can record someone playing real musical instruments while watching the movie.

However, for filmmakers, the virtual software instruments are easier to use.

Therefore, I recommend that you start by using the software instruments rather than real musical instruments that must be with a professional microphone in a very quiet room.

(3) Most tools for musicians

GarageBand has many of the basic tools of musicians. However, you do not need them to create musical sound effects.

If you want, you can ignore the Tempo, the Time Signature, or the Key. Learn about them later.

The "Musical Typing" Keyboard

The most useful feature of GarageBand
GarageBand allows you to use your computer keyboard as a substitute for a MIDI keyboard. Professional musicians will never do this because the computer keyboard is not velocity sensitive. But for filmmakers, the musical keyboard is simply wonderful.
Getting started
To use the musical typing keyboard, just select it from the menu. While it appears on the screen, you can use your Macintosh keyboard as a piano.
Look at the two keys marked Velocity. You can adjust the velocity with these two keys. Later, you can adjust the velocity of the notes in the note editor.
Look at the two keys which move you down or up an octave. You will use these keys a lot.
The tab key works like the sustain pedal of a piano. This produces interesting sounds.

Velocity vs. Volume

Velocity is very much like volume

When you increase the velocity, the sound gets louder. When you decrease the velocity, the sound gets softer.

Therefore, people assume that velocity and volume are the same. In Jam Pack:Symphony Orchestra, they are not!

In Jam Pack:Symphony Orchestra, when you increase the velocity, not only does the sound get louder, the sound has a much stronger sound. The best example of this is the software instrument for Guitar.

Velocity equals "70"

Here is a Guitar sound at velocity of 70. As you would expect, the sound is faint.

Velocity equals "100"

Here is a Guitar sound at velocity of 100. As you would expect, it is stronger.

Velocity equals "127"

Here is a Guitar sound at velocity of 127. At this velocity, the sound is very different. The sound is not just louder but now the guitar sounds like the string is being rubbed (slapped) as well as plucked.

Note: The musical instruments in the Boldt Packages have only one kind of sound at all velocities.

Note: If you have trouble playing OGG files on your computer, look at the instructions at the Wikipedia help page for OGG files. Your instructor uses MPlayer to listen to OGG files.

Adding one musical notes

Simple ways to add notes
  1. To create music, click on record and press a key on the "musical keyboard".
  2. Use the pencil tool to add a note.
  3. Drag a midi file to an empty track.
The Pencil Tool
Since I am a computer nerd, I like to cut and paste. Therefore, I prefer to use the pencil tool to add notes to the timeline at the bottom of the screen. However, there are a few odd things you must understand before you can do this. You can only draw notes in a region. When you grab the pencil tool (by holding down the Command key), GarageBand does not automatically create a region for you. You must first click in the track (again holding the Command key down) to create a region. Once you create a region and draw one note, you can cut, copy, paste, stretch, move and adjust the notes as you wish.

Working with computer programs

GarageBand has its quirks

When you first begin working with a computer program like GarageBand, it never seems to work the way you want it to.

Even though GarageBand is easy to use, it sometimes works in strange ways.

The solution is to learn how the programmers prefer to work. When you get lost, just ask yourself, "What would a computer nerd do in this situation?"

Once you understand how the programmers think, GarageBand becomes very easy to use.

I think you will really enjoy this program.

A New Film Scoring Course

This course has been combined with a general course on film scoring. The new course is designed to work with GarageBand but it is more general, more complete, and hopefully more fun.
Please begin the new film scoring course.

Contact your instructor

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