Saturday 13 August 2016

Digital Immersion (Term 3, Week 3) - Garageband!

Today we are learning how to use Garageband, with help from a Point England School teacher Rob Wiseman, who in a previous life was a music teacher and audio buff. I took screenshots and screen recordings as we went so I could blog them, as I had zero knowledge to connect to with Garageband and I just knew I would forget everything if I didn't write it down..

He talked us through 
how to get into Garageband 
(which is more complicated than it sounds)
When you open Garageband, you get this screen.

Each of the different buttons shows a different screen when you go into it, so you really need to know what you are wanting to do before going in to it. We went into the 'empty project' button.

Then this opens, and you have to select what kind of music you are going to create - we went with Audio (the microphone). 

It opens up like this. The far left hand box is called your library, the middle 'box' is where your tracks layer up, and the black box on the right is where your waveforms live once you have added audio.

What to do before you do anything!
Change all your settings! Make it how you want.. (And get your head around what is what)

You can alter the key, which here is 'C major', and you can also change the beats per  minute, which here is 120. The Music note and metronome icon on the left hand side mean that it is in 'beats and projects' mode, and can be changed to 'time' mode by clicking it and selecting time.

Rob explained that our laptops will automatically be on 'System Settings', and the audio quality will be better if we go in and change the settings to reflect what microphone/headphones you are using - even build-in output/microphone is better then using System Settings.  (Access this by going Garageband/Preferences).

Each layer of the audio file you are adding is called a 'track' and looks like this in the middle-left of your screen. If you have multiple tracks, you can mute one or more by clicking the mute button, or only allow the noise through headphones. The green bar shown is the volume you are recording - you should aim for the audio to be around that little ball, or slightly higher. 

The '1,2,3,4' on the right hand side gives you a 4 count count-in, so you have time to prepare and take a breathe before starting to talk. The speed of the 4 count will be at the speed of the number of beats, for example mine is set at 120 bpm. If you select the other buttons on the left-hand side, such as the metronome or the tuning fork, you can have those sounds to guide your audio recording.

When recording audio, it creates the waveform alongside your track. The larger the wave, the louder it is; the smaller is it, the quieter the audio is.

Recording Audio

Firstly we just played around with recording...

Then we actually recorded ourselves reading a children's book.
 As you can see, I actually missed a page in the book and had to add that section in. It was hard to try and make my voice the same volume and pace! I also (purposely) took lots of deep breathes, read it wrongly etc so I then had to practice editing those parts out.

Editing in-track

The button on the far right-hand side with the camera and music note icons allow you to easily access all the audio and movie files on your computer, and drag them into your open project. You can also easily drag-and-drop from your desktop.

To 'cut' or 'split' the audio file, put the playhead where you want to cut, go to 'edit' and select 'split regions at playhead'. Also de-selecting 'Snap to Grid' makes editing audio easier. 

For super-fine editing, select the region you want to edit, double click or press 'E' and a separate, more detailed editing box pops up at the bottom. Hold your cursor inside the bottom half of the audio track, and it will turn into a cross, allowing you to click and drag sections of the audio to then edit.

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 11.05.30 am.png
By clicking any track and hitting ‘B’, you bring up the smart controls at the bottom of your screen. The reverb and ambience on the right hand side, when dialled up a little bit can make your audio sound much better e.g. giving the illusion of space between the voice and the microphone, which makes the voice sound better.

Compressor - mediates your wave volumes to make them more even.

By keeping a track selected, you can change the voice by playing around with the 'voices' inside the library. If you have exited the library, press 'Y' to bring it back again.

Well, that was a very detailed note-taking of our Garageband lesson with Rob! Here are some shortcuts for Garageband version 10 that Rob gave us. Thank you so much Rob, I literally knew none of this without you! And thank you viewers who made it to the end haha, hope you learnt something new!


  1. This is an extremely helpful summary of Rob's session Ashley. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. Thanks Dorothy! I wanted to use my blog post both as a reflective tool for my own learning, and a place where others can learn detailed tit-bits about Garageband as well. :)


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