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Lay down some tracks—no garage required!

GarageBand has become the default musical sketchpad for both well-known artists and hobbyists musicians who want a simple way to record, edit, and share their own tunes. GarageBand For Dummies is your go-to guide to navigating the interface and making the tweaks to create your own songs. 

Look inside to discover how to lay down a beat with the virtual drum kits, layer on sweet sounds with built-in virtual instruments, and attach simple hardware to record vocals or live instruments on a Mac, iPad, or even an iPhone. 

  • Use built-in instruments to create a song
  • Attach your guitar or mic to record live sounds
  • Export your final product or individual tracks
  • Add effects and edit your song

GarageBand is the simplest way to create basic tracks without investing in costly hardware and learning a complex digital audio workstation software package—and this book shows you how.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Introduction
    1. About This Book
    2. Not-So-Foolish Assumptions
    3. Conventions Used in This Book
    4. Icons Used in This Book
    5. Beyond the Book
    6. Where to Go from Here
  3. Part 1: Starting on a Good Note
    1. Chapter 1: Introducing GarageBand for Macs and iDevices
    2. What Is GarageBand?
    3. What Can You Do with GarageBand?
    4. What Can’t You Do with GarageBand?
    5. Checking Your System Requirements
    6. What Else Do You Need to Run GarageBand?
    7. Recording with GarageBand: A Few Teasers
    8. Chapter 2: Equipping and Setting Up Your Recording Space
    9. Cobbling Together a Studio Without Breaking the Bank
    10. Making the Most of Your Recording Space
    11. Equipping Your Studio: Must-Have Gear versus Good-to-Have Gear
    12. Choosing a Microphone
    13. Finding the Right Speakers
    14. Listening with Headphones Without Messing Up the Take
    15. Adding a MIDI Keyboard to Your Setup
    16. Unraveling the Cable and Connector Conundrum
    17. Adding an Audio Interface to Your Setup
    18. Perfecting Your Mic Setup
    19. Boosting Your Hard Drive Space
    20. Recording in Tune with a Tuning Device (for Guitarists)
    21. Chapter 3: Introducing Multitrack Recording with GarageBand
    22. Understanding the Role of Stereo in Multitrack Recording
    23. Strolling through the Recording Process, Quickly
    24. Cutting the Tracks (“No Blood on ’em, Mr. Dylan”)
    25. Mix That Sucka
    26. (Lord and) Mastering
    27. Managing Song Files
  4. Part 2: Making Music on a Mac
    1. Chapter 4: Getting Started
    2. General Pane
    3. Audio/MIDI Pane
    4. Metronome Pane
    5. Loops Pane
    6. My Info Pane
    7. Advanced Pane
    8. Chapter 5: Using Loops to Make Music
    9. What Is a Loop, Anyway?
    10. Finding the Right Loop with the Loop Browser
    11. Setting a Loop’s Tempo
    12. Adding Loops to Tracks
    13. Chapter 6: Recording with MIDI and Software Instruments
    14. What Is MIDI, Anyway?
    15. Controlling Software Instruments with a MIDI Keyboard
    16. Choosing Software Instruments
    17. Recording Tracks with Software Instruments
    18. Altering the Sound of Software Instruments
    19. Drummer Tracks
    20. Testing Your Changes
    21. Chapter 7: Recording Vocals and Acoustic Instruments with a Mic
    22. Getting Ready to Record
    23. Multitrack Recording
    24. Recording the Track
    25. Improving the Sound of Recordings
    26. Chapter 8: Recording Electric Guitars and Other Electronic Instruments
    27. Overview from the Top: Direct or Live Recording
    28. Direct Recording with GarageBand’s Virtual Amplifiers
    29. Recording Live with an Amplifier and Microphones
    30. Customizing the Sound of Your Guitar Tracks
  5. Part 3: Postproduction: Finishing Songs on a Mac
    1. Chapter 9: Editing and Polishing Tracks
    2. “When Should I Edit Tracks?”
    3. Editing Software Instrument versus Real Instrument Tracks
    4. Fixing Flubs and Faux Pas
    5. Rearranging Regions
    6. Editing Software Instrument Tracks
    7. Sweetening: Add New Material? Or Not?
    8. Chapter 10: Mixing Tracks into Songs
    9. What Is Mixing?
    10. Creating a Level Playing Field
    11. Panning Tracks Left or Right
    12. The Effects of Adding Effects
    13. Doubling Tracks
    14. Chapter 11: Mastering Mastering
    15. What, Exactly, Is Mastering?
    16. Before You Master
    17. The Master Track Is for Mastering Tracks
    18. One More Thing Before You Call It “Done”
  6. Part 4: Making Music with Your iDevice
    1. Chapter 12: Getting Started
    2. Global Settings
    3. GarageBand Settings
    4. The Control Bar
    5. Sharing Projects with a Mac (and Vice Versa)
    6. Chapter 13: Making Music with Live Loops
    7. Loop Basics
    8. Working with Loops
    9. Working with Cells
    10. Recording with the Loop Grid
    11. Chapter 14: Laying Down Software Instrument Tracks
    12. What Is MIDI, Anyway?
    13. Controlling Software Instruments with a MIDI Keyboard
    14. Working with Software Instruments
    15. Working with Tracks
    16. Chapter 15: Recording Vocals and Acoustic Instruments with a Mic
    17. Getting Ready to Record
    18. Multitrack Recording
    19. Recording the Track
    20. Improving the Sound of Recordings
    21. Chapter 16: Recording Guitars and Basses without Mics or Amps
    22. Overview from the Top: Direct or Live Recording
    23. Direct Recording with GarageBand’s Virtual Amplifiers
    24. Recording Live with an Amplifier and Microphones
    25. Customizing the Sound of Your Guitar Tracks
  7. Part 5: Postproduction: Finishing Songs on an iDevice
    1. Chapter 17: Editing and Polishing Tracks
    2. “When Should I Edit Tracks?”
    3. Editing Software Instrument versus Real Instrument Tracks
    4. Arranging and Rearranging
    5. Fixing Flubs and Faux Pas
    6. Editing Software Instrument Tracks
    7. Sweetening: Add New Material or Not?
    8. Chapter 18: Mixing Tracks into Songs
    9. What Is Mixing?
    10. Creating a Level Playing Field
    11. Panning Tracks Left or Right
    12. The Effects of Adding Effects
    13. Doubling Tracks
    14. Chapter 19: Mastering Mastering
    15. Before You Master
    16. Exporting to a Mac for Mastering
    17. Sharing Songs
  8. Part 6: Everything Else You Might Need to Know
    1. Chapter 20: Playing Live with GarageBand Amps and Effects
    2. Playing at Home
    3. General Tips for Guitarists and Bassists
    4. Playing on Stage
    5. Chapter 21: Jamming with Others over Wi-Fi
    6. Becoming the Bandleader
    7. Becoming a Member
    8. Working with Jam Sessions
    9. Chapter 22: File Compression and Your Music
    10. Understanding Compression
    11. Sharing Your Masterpiece
    12. How Much Compression Can You Stand?
    13. Distributing Your Music
    14. Chapter 23: CD Recording, Reproduction, and Distribution
    15. The Benefits of Burning CDs
    16. Getting Ready to Burn Songs on CDs
    17. Burning Songs to CDs
    18. Distributing Your Music
  9. Part 7: The Part of Tens
    1. Chapter 24: Ten Ways to Improve GarageBand’s Performance
    2. Starting with the Basics
    3. Checking on FileVault
    4. Paying Attention to CPU and RAM Usage
    5. Checking Out Activity Monitor’s CPU and Memory Tabs
    6. Recording: 16-bits versus 24-bits
    7. Minimizing the GarageBand Window While Playing or Recording
    8. Getting More RAM
    9. Getting Faster Storage
    10. Resetting MIDI Drivers
    11. Turn Off Wi-Fi Before Recording or Performing
    12. Chapter 25: Ten Ways to Take Your Recordings to the Next Level
    13. Getting a Better Microphone
    14. Making Sure Your Speakers Reproduce Sound Decently
    15. Getting Better Headphones
    16. Fine-Tuning Mic Placement
    17. Improving Room Acoustics
    18. Using Quality Cables
    19. Adding an Audio Interface (and, Optionally, a Mixing Board)
    20. Switch to More Powerful Software
    21. Chapter 26: Ten Useful Websites
    22. Learn Songs on Guitar or Bass
    23. Mix Magazine
    24. MusicRadar
    25. Sweetwater Sound
    26. Musician’s Friend
    27. Monoprice
    28. Apple GarageBand Discussion Board
  10. Index
  11. About the Author
  12. Advertisement Page
  13. Connect with Dummies
  14. End User License Agreement
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