GarageBand – the music-making, podcast-creating program that comes free with Macs – doesn’t get the attention that it deserves. The simplicity of the interface often gives the impression that there’s not much under the hood – which isn’t true. In this Masterclass we’ll show you how to create a GarageBand tune using Apple loops and software instruments, then plug in a guitar, tune it, add effects and record multiple takes before choosing the best one. See also: GarageBand 11 review.
Then, because we can, we’ll save the whole thing as a ringtone for an iPhone and then drop it into iTunes, ready to sync the next time we plug in the phone. Though having a MIDI interface and keyboard helps for the tutorial, you can also get by using the on-screen keyboard instead.
1. Create new song - Load GarageBand and if you’ve already been working on a song, open the File menu and choose Close to get rid of it. GarageBand will automatically display this dialogue box. Make sure New Project is selected in the left hand panel and then click the Loops icon in the main window. Click Choose to continue.
2. Setting up - Type in a name for the song – ours is going to be an iPhone ringtone and then adjust the tempo by sliding the bar left or right; think about the key and time signature and change them if necessary (you can always adjust these later on) and then click the Create button to continue.
3. Audio and MIDI - Open the GarageBand menu and choose Preferences. When the dialogue box opens, click Audio/MIDI at the top and make sure that your audio device is selected. Depending on how your hardware is set up you may see different options listed here – the important thing is that GarageBand is using the correct audio/MIDI hardware. Then close the dialogue.
4. Add a loop - It’s best to start with drums. See the loop browser on the right? Click the All Drums button and then have a wander round by clicking different style or mood buttons, then auditioning the loops in the bottom window by clicking them. Found one? Drag it out to the main window and drop it one track one.