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Six Essential GarageBand Tools and Tricks for New Songwriters

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Mary Plummer, author of Apple Pro Training Series: GarageBand, is passionate about helping aspiring musicians and songwriters to overcome recording roadblocks and share their music. Learn how the combined power of GarageBand for iOS and GarageBand for Mac can help new songwriters to record their music and create great-sounding song demos.
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Introduction

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to over the years who love music, dream music, are practically haunted by music—yet, when asked what they’ve done about it, the answer too often is “nothing.” In this article, I’ll share some of my favorite tools and tricks for using GarageBand to bridge the gap between the music in your head and a finished song that you can share. We’ll explore how to overcome common roadblocks like these:

  • Recording rough ideas when you have them, instead of waiting until the “right” time
  • Finding the perfect tempo for your new song
  • Learning which buttons let you record scratch vocals simultaneously with guitar or keyboards
  • Finding GarageBand’s hidden features for showing recorded notes for songwriters who can only play by ear (they don’t read or write music)
  • Recording instrumental parts for your song, even with instruments you don’t know how to play
  • Instantly fixing timing issues with your recorded tracks

Being a songwriter isn’t necessarily about being a star and selling your music. That’s a different article. My focus here is on using GarageBand to overcome some of the common recording roadblocks that get in the way of making a demo and finishing a song. After all, the difference between songwriters and “song dreamers” is that songwriters record their music and have demo songs ready to play or share at a moment’s notice, whereas “song dreamers” only think about songwriting, keeping their music locked away in their heads.

If you have GarageBand for iOS on your mobile device and GarageBand for Mac on your computer, you actually have a powerful songwriting studio, complete with amps, touch instruments, and virtual session players.

Let’s take a look at some GarageBand features that are extremely helpful for new songwriters.

For starters, GarageBand for Mac includes handy prebuilt song templates to get you started with your new songs. For example, the Songwriter template includes all the tracks you need to record a basic song demo with drums, vocals, guitar, electric guitar, bass and piano/keyboard. Another recording issue can be recording to a metronome. Let’s face it, a click-track isn’t very inspiring, and recording with prerecorded drum loops can be monotonous. GarageBand’s Drummer is a huge improvement. This live-sounding virtual drummer can play any music style, vary performance intensity, and add fills and accents like a pro. Best of all: If you’re just starting out, the Songwriter template includes a Drummer track that’s ready to go!

Now let’s dive into some of the common recording roadblocks new songwriters face, and see how GarageBand can help you move forward to recording and finishing your songs.

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