CS 325 and Film 385AB: Introduction to GarageBand and iTunes

Garageband Logo

Highlights of this lab:

  • What is GarageBand and iTunes?
  • The GarageBand Environment
  • Creating Music with GarageBand
  • Exporting to iTunes
  • The iTunes Environment
  • Retrieving File Info
  • Converting Audio Files
  • Assignment

:: What are GarageBand and iTunes? ::

GarageBand "turns your Mac into an anytime, anywhere recording studio packed with hundreds of instruments and a recording engineer or two for good measure. It’s the easiest way to create, perform and record your own music whether you’re an accomplished player or just wish you were a rock star. And GarageBand is the newest member of the iLife family, so you can add your original music to your slideshows, your DVD menus, burn it to CDs or score your iMovie projects."

iTunes is "Recognized as the world’s best digital music jukebox (hmm, yes, I'd like to mention that this is right from the Apple website so bias = true!). Acclaimed as the leader against which all online music stores are judged. iTunes continues to delight, offering music lovers the easiest way to manage the music they own and the absolutely best way to discover and purchase even more music, as well as audiobooks."

:: The GarageBand Environment ::

Here is a picture of GarageBand's Environment:

:: Creating Music with GarageBand ::

This section will look at how to create music with GarageBand. Music can be created by manipulating the predefined audio clips that GarageBand offers as well as plugging in your own MIDI-compatable instrument and performing exactly what you want.

Adding New Tracks

Music in GarageBand is organized into tracks. To add a new track to your composition, click the plus button in the lower left. You will see this pop-up:

Choose a track type that fits your needs:

Viewing Track Info

You use the track info panel to select software instrument sounds, or to apply effects to real instruments.
 To view a track's info, click on the "i" button. If it is already open, the button looks like this: blue "i" in a circle. The track info panel will open on the right side of the Garageband.  You can close the Track Info window by pressing the button again.

Simple Track Info

By default you will see a simple view. To see detailed settings for an instrument or effect, click on "Details". There you can customize things to your heart's content. If you are happy with your changes you can save them to use again later. 

Using the Default Audio Clips

GarageBand comes with a number of audio clips called Apple Loops that you can use to build or enhance your project. To access them click on the "eye" button, i.e. Apple Loops Icon. The loops panel will appear at the bottom of the environment:


Click on a category to see some loops. You can refine your selection by clicking on other categories. If you don't see what you want, click the reset button and try again. To add a loop to your song, simply drag it onto the timeline. You can repeat a loop by clicking and dragging its upper right corner.

Loop List

Take a look at the loops - they have some important features:
You can create your own loops from both software instruments and real instruments. Simply trim down the part you are interested in looping, and click Edit | Add to loop library.... If that sounds like too much work, you can loop anything in place just like a real Apple Loop.

Recording Your Own Music

Software Instruments

There are several ways to control a software instrument in "real time". 
Try setting a start point in your song and playing along. Once you are happy with the result, you can record by pressing the red record button.

You can also enter and edit notes with the keyboard. Click on the scissors icon to see the editing view. You can click on and drag notes to change their pitch, timing and duration. You can also add notes by Command-clicking. If you want to create a blank canvas to enter notes, then Command-click on an empty bit of a software instrument track.

Real Instruments

To record a real instrument you can use the built-in microphone or you can plug in an instrument. Select which one you want by going to GarageBand | Preferences... | Audio/Midi

Under Audio Input select Built-in Microphone or Built-in Input as needed. If you have an external USB recording mixer or microphone, you should find it listed here. However most USB recording devices are automatically detected by GarageBand and it will ask if you want to switch to using them.

Select a real instrument track. You can exeriment with effects using a live monitor - look in the info panel toward the bottom. Be careful though - monitor will cause feedback if you aren't wearing headphones.

When you are ready to record, make sure your real instrument track is selected and your play head is correctly positioned, then press the red record button.

Repeating Playback

To playback a section of your composition, be it just to find the right notes and practice, click on the "circled arrows", the rightmost button in location G (Again, see above). You will notice a yellow bar above the time line. This can be expanded or shrunk for whatever sections you want to repeat. Newer versions of GarageBand will let you use this feature to audition several takes so you can choose the very best one.

:: iTunes ::

After you are done your musical masterpiece you may want to capture it so you can play it on any computer and share it with your friends. You do this with the Share menu. You can save directly to disk, which is fine, but if you are going to share the song with someone else, you might to add some information and maybe even art to the song. To do this you can share to iTunes. 

Getting an MP3 of Your Song with iTunes

Share the song with iTunes

In iTunes, you need to set up what file type you wish to convert your files to. To do this follow these steps:

:: Working With Media File Info ::

To see and edit your songs information (MP3 tags)  right click on the song and choose Get Info. From here a dialog will pop up. The most important bits are:

:: Assignment ::

For this lab assignment:

What to submit:

This is due at the beginning of your lab next week.

:: Online Source(s) ::