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Use the Editors or Guitar Tuner to show which notes you’ve already played

Suppose you play by ear, and you don’t know how to read or write musical notation. Or perhaps you play only one instrument, so you don’t know which notes to play or how to play them on another instrument. The bottom line is you need to record additional instrument parts for your song. But how?

This is where GarageBand really becomes a power tool for new songwriters. The solution to this complex but common problem is in two parts:

  1. GarageBand tells you which notes you’ve already played.
  2. GarageBand helps you to use those previous notes as a guide to play cool riffs on an instrument you don’t know how to play.

If you recorded a MIDI software instrument part (most likely a keyboard), you can go to the editors for that track to see which notes you played:

  • GarageBand for iOS: Select the green Software Instrumentregion in the track and tap Edit to open it in the editor. Tap a note in the editor to see the corresponding note on the vertical instrument on the left side of the editor (see Figure 9).

  • GarageBand for Mac: Double-click the green Software Instrumentregion in the track to open it in the editor. In the Score editor, click a note to see the name of the note (see Figure 10). In the Piano Roll editor, click a note to see the corresponding note in the vertical instrument on the left side of the editor (see Figure 11).

If you recorded an audio instrument using a microphone or input such as vocals, guitars, strings, or bass, the GarageBand Tuner will show which notes you played.

  • GarageBand for iOS: Create a new track and select Guitar Amp as the instrument (see Figure 12). On the Guitar Amp interface, tap the Tuner. Play or sing your instrument part so that the iOS microphone will hear it. The Tuner interface will show the name of each note as it’s played (see Figure 13).

  • GarageBand for Mac: Select the header for the track you want to play for the tuner. Click the solo button in the track header so you’ll hear only that track. Click the Tuner button in the control bar (see Figure 14). Play the part you’ve already recorded, so the Tuner will hear the output. The Tuner will show each note, regardless of the instrument that played it originally (see Figure 15).

    Figure 14

    Figure 14

You can also use the GarageBand tuner on your iOS device to show you the notes playing from your Mac, or vice versa. Once you know which root (primary) notes comprise your song, write them down so you can use them in the next section to record a new instrument part.

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