How to sequence songs in GarageBand

Turn a few musical sketches into a full song

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  • Intro 1
  • 01 Starting point 2
  • 02 Section B 3
  • 03 More sections 4
  • 04 Sequencing time 5
  • 05 Tie it all together 6
  • 06 Save and save again 7
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Step 1 of 7: Intro

In this tutorial we’re looking at how you can turn those raw musical ideas into a song.

The application’s default recording mode is loop-based, so it’ll keep looping a particular section until you tell it to stop. That’s fine, but what happens when you want to add an intro, verse, middle eight and ending to your chorus? In this tutorial, we’ll explain how to create new sections, modify or duplicate existing ones, move them around and delete them as necessary.

The result will be a full song that you can listen to, play to your friends or even export to iTunes. We’ll assume you’re starting with a few loops you’ve already recorded, and that you’re familiar with the basics of the software.

Vital Info

Device: iPad

Difficulty: Beginner

Time required: 30 mins

What you need

GarageBand (£2.99, itun.es/i6J8397)

iOS 5.1 or later

Next Prev slideshow image

In this tutorial we’re looking at how you can turn those raw musical ideas into a song.

The application’s default recording mode is loop-based, so it’ll keep looping a particular section until you tell it to stop. That’s fine, but what happens when you want to add an intro, verse, middle eight and ending to your chorus? In this tutorial, we’ll explain how to create new sections, modify or duplicate existing ones, move them around and delete them as necessary.

The result will be a full song that you can listen to, play to your friends or even export to iTunes. We’ll assume you’re starting with a few loops you’ve already recorded, and that you’re familiar with the basics of the software.

Vital Info

Device: iPad

Difficulty: Beginner

Time required: 30 mins

What you need

GarageBand (£2.99, itun.es/i6J8397)

iOS 5.1 or later

Step 2 of 7: 01 Starting point

Before you begin, you’ll need some loops. Set up some drums, bass, guitar and synth, and you’re ready to go. Now hit the ‘+’ button in the top right, and GarageBand will show you that you’re in section A, which is eight bars long. Hit ‘Duplicate’, to create a second section.

Step 3 of 7: 02 Section B

Tap your newly created section B to zoom into it. Now replace some parts with new loops, otherwise the whole piece will sound the same. Use the circle of fifths (see bit.ly/TIOua9) to find chords that will go well with what you’ve already got. Swap between sections to check they sound okay together.

Step 4 of 7: 03 More sections

That’s a verse and a chorus. Now create an intro, an outro and a middle eight of some sort to go alongside them. You might want some to be longer or shorter – to set the length, hit the blue arrow in the section menu and select how many bars you’d like that section to be.

Step 5 of 7: 04 Sequencing time

It’s now time to get your song in the right order. In the section list, hit ‘Edit’ and then drag the parts into an order you’re happy with. Use the ‘Duplicate’ button to create a repeated verse or chorus. If in doubt, try intro > verse > chorus > verse > chorus > middle 8 > double-length chorus > outro.

Step 6 of 7: 05 Tie it all together

Zoom out to view the whole song by hitting the ‘All Sections’ button. You can drag parts around to rearrange them, and hit Play to listen to the entire thing. Once you’re happy, lay down a melody or vocal track over the whole thing, so there’s a connection that ties the whole song together.

Step 7 of 7: 06 Save and save again

It’s a good idea to save your song periodically – go out to the library (where you can rename the song) and then return to your composition. In the library, you can also share your song on Facebook, YouTube or SoundCloud, but we’ll talk about mastering and production first overleaf.

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