Garage Band Tutorial pt 2

So you’ve got the basics down in Garageband, but you’re still looking to do a couple more complicated things.

How do I import pre-recorded media?
How do I loop a section of audio?
How do I fade sound in and out?
How do I pan sound?

Importing Audio:

To import external audio, go to Control > Show Media Browser
Locate the song/audio file you want on your computer and drag it into a new track.
Boom. You’re done. Now you can cut it up, mix it with other tracks, and add effects to it.
Or, if you want, take a section and loop it.

Looping Audio:

In order to loop a section of audio, hover your mouse over the end of a section, right near the edge of the audio sample. The cursor will turn into a kind of curly-que arrow. Click and drag the edge of the audio to however long you want the loop to run. Easy, right? Yes. But if this loop is going to be prominent in your overall audio, you’ll have to be careful with how accurately you loop, since any kind of extra sound that you might have left when you clipped the sample will make the loop run off-time and sound trashy.

Fortunately, if you click the button that looks like a pair of scissors in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen, you can open up an in-depth track editor that will allow you to select very small portions of your audio sample to delete and clean up so you may loop it nicely.

When open, the media browser and track editor look like this:

The orange audio is one that I’ve inserted from my Itunes folder (by dragging and dropping the file into a new basic track) and am in the process of selecting, and cleaning up a sample to be looped. If I were to loop the clip that I have here, I would delete the audio I took it from, or else, as I drag the clip to loop it, the audio files will layer over each other and (as with all Mac/Adobe programs) the one on the bottom will be “erased” by the loop I drag over it.

Fading sound in and out/Panning sound:

On the right side of the row of options at the bottom of each of your tracks (enable recording, muting, headphone only, lock track–left to right) is a button with a little triangle on it. Click this button and another bar will appear underneath your chosen track. As you can see in the picture, it will be blue with a line running along it. This lets you control track volume in sections, and you can achieve some nice fades and volume peaks with the tool.
In order to do this, click on the blue line. You will make a marker on the line that you can drag to any volume you want. The only caveat of this is, you need to manually create a fade with multiple markers–I believe there are four or five little markers in the fade of the above picture. If you don’t space the markers and do your fade gradually, the tool will just increase or decrease the volume of the whole track you’re working on. So, a good idea is to set a marker at the beginning and end of the section you want to fade, and adjust your volume levels for the fade-in or out, and then fine-tune how gradually the fade comes in or out with other markers in the middle working some kind of nicely shaped curve.

Panning a track works in pretty much the same way. All you need to do is click the pull-down menu that says “Track Volume” (from the little triangle in your track toolbar) and select “Track Pan.” The tool looks a little bit different–it’s just one line running along under your track. To make the audio pan to the left speaker, grab where you want on the line, and pull up. To make it pan to the right, pull down. Easy. You can achieve some interesting cross fades and oscillating panning effects with combining fade-ins and fade-outs with left-right panning across multiple tracks.

From here, there’s a whole mess of stuff that you can do with Garageband. The free program comes with pre-made loops, samples, instruments, effects, etc. that you can control with your keyboard. Explore some of the options you get when you select Track > New Basic Track and enable Musical Typing (Window > Musical Typing) –which allows you to play a “keyboard” with your computer’s keys. Make your own sounds and loop them over imported clips. Play chords over your podcast speech audio. Add nature sounds, underwater sounds, radio static/chatter, space-ish sounds, highly-synthesized beeps and bloops….the list goes on and on.

Have fun.

–Josh Barnes

~ by hobodreams on October 26, 2010.

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