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Recording Multiple Tracks

The last recording feature you’ll explore in this lesson is recording to multiple tracks. For this feature, you’ll open the Keyboard project template. This is more of an experimental section to show you how to record to multiple tracks. One of the most common uses for multiple track recording is when you want to record a microphone with an instrument. In this example you’ll record a voice track with the built-in microphone while simultaneously playing and recording a software instrument track with the Musical Typing window. If you have a MIDI keyboard connected to the computer you can record with that device instead of Musical Typing.

You need an audio interface connected to the computer to record multiple audio instruments such as two guitars simultaneously. To record multiple software instrument tracks you will need to use an external audio interface or use the Audio MIDI Setup utility on your Mac to create an aggregate device.

What notes you play, and which Software Instruments you choose to record, will be up to you.

  1. Choose File > New. Click the New Project button in the Project Chooser and choose the Keyboard Collection template. Click Choose.

    The Keyboard Collection template opens.

  2. Save the project as Multi-track Recording Test to your projects folder.

    The project has the Smart Controls pane showing, along with many prebuilt empty keyboard tracks.

  3. Press B to hide the Smart Controls pane.
  4. Press Command-K to open the Musical Typing window.
  5. Select the first track, and then play a few keys on the Musical Typing keyboard.
  6. Press the Down Arrow key to select a track to hear how it sounds; repeat to audition additional tracks.

    This project template is preloaded with a lot of different Software Instrument keyboard tracks so you can sample and compare them.

  7. Select the track with the keyboard sound that you want to record. Click the Add Track button.
  8. In the New Track dialog choose the Microphone icon to create an audio track using a microphone. In the Details pane at the bottom of the New Track dialog, leave the default Input setting (Input 1). Select the checkbox “I want to hear my instrument as I play and record” if it is not already selected. Don’t worry about the other settings at this time. Click Create. You may see an Avoid feedback warning dialog that says you need to use headphones to avoid feedback. If so, click OK on the warning dialog.

    Next you need to set the input to your computer’s built-in microphone. The easiest way to do that is through the GarageBand Preferences.

  9. Choose GarageBand > Preferences. In the Audio/MIDI preferences pane, select Built-in Microphone from the Input Device pop-up menu. Your other Audio/MIDI preferences may differ from the screen shot depending on your system settings and equipment. Close Preferences.

    The new audio track you created should be in the timeline directly below the track you selected to record your musical typing.

    You already know that if you want to record to a single track you simply select the track and record. To record to multiple tracks, you need to arm them with Record Enable buttons.

  10. Choose Track > Track Header > Show Record Enable Button.

    Record Enable buttons appear on each track. The Record Enable button on the selected track is red to indicate the selected track is targeted for recording. However, since you are recording to two different tracks, and only one track can be selected at a time, you’ll have to arm the tracks. How? Just click the Record Enable button. When it turns red with a white center, it is armed to record even if the track isn’t selected. The Audio 1 Record Enable button will flash, while the Software Instrument track’s button remains solid red. Clicking the Record Enable buttons again will turn them off.

  11. Click the Record Enable button on the audio track you just created, and the track you want to use for recording musical typing so that both are armed (red).

    It’s also a good idea to monitor the input of your audio track so you can hear your microphone through headphones along with the musical typing.

  12. Click the Record button in the transport controls and play a few notes on the Musical Typing keyboard. At the same time, speak, sing, or whistle toward the built-in microphone.

  13. When you are finished, stop recording.

    The number of tracks you can record simultaneously is only limited by your audio input device.

Experiment with the different sounds. If you have a MIDI keyboard attached that is also an audio interface, you may be able to record more tracks simultaneously. In Lesson 5, “Recording and Editing Audio Tracks,” you’ll explore recording vocal tracks. In Lesson 6, “Working with Electric Guitars,” you’ll explore guitar recording.

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