Getting Started with GarageBand

Music creation has been enticing me back. My undergrad degree is in music composition, and I haven't done much composition since graduating 20 years ago. Although I naturally want the big bad boys of music software, like Logic Pro, Ableton Live, and the like, I also like to start at a more basic level and work with what what I have, then get more fancy as I hit the limits of what I'm working with.

So I'm getting familiar with GarageBand, which is music creation software freely available for Mac. It seems to be much more capable than the free price tag would imply, although some of the better features are rather hidden. In this series of posts, I hope to provide some quick, bite size tips that will help you put GarageBand to work for you. I hope to also provide some clarity as to where its limitations are, when you would want to look at other tools.

So let's get started.

The first thing I wanted to do is enter some notes, without any fancy setup.

The Command key is your friend. Create a software instrument (midi) track. CMD-click on an empty measure. This creates a region. Everything with notes or audio in GarageBand is done in a region. Drag out the BOTTOM half of that region to the right, to extend it a few measures.

Adding region in GarageBand

Double-click it the region, and you now have a Piano Roll note editor at the bottom of the screen. CMD-click in it to create notes. CMD-click and drag to the right before releasing, to create longer notes. Drag to the left before releasing to create shorter notes.

Entering Notes in GarageBand