GarageBand/The Main Window

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This is a read-up on the various buttons, panels, and controls that make up GarageBand's interface.

Getting Started[edit]

After GarageBand has fully loaded, choose "File > New"

This menu pops up when you choose to create a "New" file from the "File" menu.
  1. Here you fill in the name you want to give your new song.
  2. With the drop menu you can choose the location you want to save your song file.
  3. You can set the tempo or speed of your song beforehand. The speed is measured in beats per minute and this amount is shown in the box below next to "bpm". The tempo can be altered at a later point in production.
  4. Here you can set the time signature of your song, or, in other words, the beats per measure. Use the menu to choose between the different times. 'Note' that the time you choose will affect the number of loops you will be able to use in your project. If you are new to GarageBand, a 4/4 time is a good place to start.
  5. In addition, the tonality of your project can be chosen beforehand. This is another option that limits the number of loops you can use.
  6. When you are done with choosing your settings, click "Create" to start working on your new project.

The Working Area[edit]

In this field of the GarageBand interface you can move around your loops and recordings, you can add new instruments, change their volumes and pan them to the left or to the right.
  1. In this column from top to bottom you see the different tracks or instruments used in the song.
  2. This is the Mixer column in which you can use the knob to 'pan' the sound of this track to the left or to the right, or use the slider to raise or lower the track's volume. When you play the song back you will see the volume dials above the slider going up from green to yellow to red. The volume is best if this dial's maximum lies within the yellow zone and not in the red.
  3. In this area you see all the loops and recordings that you are using in your song. Within this plane you can adjust your 'sound fragments' so they fit nicely with the other tracks by looping, shortening, lengthening and positioning them.
  4. With this slider you can change the scale of the plane under number 3. Slide it to the right to see the loops and recordings in detail and to the left for a very global view of your song.
  5. This is the cursor. This is from where GarageBand plays back your song when you press "play". Reposition it to make the song play from a different place or use the buttons in the 'buttons bar' below.
  6. In this example there are only 4 instruments in use, but still many more tracks can be added to this song. When recording you have to select the track you want to record in. To select the track, click on it and the instrument icon will illuminate like the 'Shaker' in the example picture.

When recording or mixing in GarageBand it is important to know what the buttons in the first column mean.

Gbbuttons1.jpg
  1. This first button indicates that if you press record you will record for this track. Therefore, when you select a track this button turns on for that track.
  2. Use this button to mute this track.
  3. Use this button to single out this track. This mutes all the other tracks.
  4. Use this button to lock this track to prevent changes made to it.
  5. When this button is pressed a more detailed panning and volume-adjusting mode is shown. With this you can reduce the volume of that certain track or raise it at any point in the song. This also counts for panning, though when learning the basics of GarageBand we can ignore this function.

The Button Panel[edit]

Button pnl.jpg
  1. Use this button to add a new track to your project.
  2. This button opens up the detailed information on the track that is currently selected.
  3. These buttons open the 'bottom panel'. The 'eye' will show the 'loops bank' and the 'scissors' open an even more detailed look at the time selected within the track for detailed sound editing. In this tutorial we only look at the 'loops bank.'
  4. This is the record button. When pressed GarageBand will start recording either what is played with a USB keyboard or what is plugged into the sound input of the computer such as a guitar or microphone.
  5. Use these buttons to move through your song. The first button will place the cursor at the start of your project. There are 'back' and 'forward' buttons that move the cursor either one measure back or forward. The middle button is the 'play' button. The last button can be used to loop certain sections. Feel free to try it out but this tutorial won't explain this function.
  6. This is a panel that shows at what measure or at what time the cursor is. To switch between time or measures click on the small clock or the musical note in the bottom left corner of this panel. This panel also shows the tempo of your project. By clicking on it a slider will open up with which you can change the tempo.
  7. This slider shows the overall volume of the piece. Again, the best volume is in the range of the green/yellow area of the dials above the slider.