As a writer/musician who's spent a lot of time with GarageBand over the years, I must resist the temptation to explore its every nook and cranny simply because I'm enthusiastic about it. Features that I find fascinating may appeal to only a few of you and I'd rather not tax your patience. Given that, I'd like to wrap up my look at the application by pointing out a few of its nuances that the majority of would-be GarageBand will find helpful.
I've shown you how to "play" GarageBand's instruments with an external keyboard, onscreen keyboard, and even the Mac's keyboard. And while I expect that many of you have done so perfectly, there may be a person or two who has hit a clunker. Thankfully we're no longer living in the days of tape where you either played every note and chord perfectly or relied on a very talented engineer with a box of razor blades. GarageBand is a music processor meaning that, like a word processor, you have the ability to correct your mistakes.
This is most easily done with software instruments — the built-in synthesized instruments that you trigger via some kind of controller (often a musical keyboard).
When you play these instruments your key presses (and the velocity of those key presses) is recorded as MIDI data. Click on the Edit icon in the control bar (or press the Mac's E key) and the edit pane appears at the bottom of the window. Here you'll see notes represented by green dots on a grid. This, as the pane's tab tells you, is called a Piano Roll view in reference to player pianos that made music produced by scrolls that had holes punched in them.
The higher the dots on the grid, the higher pitched the notes are. The longer they are, the longer their duration. The horizontal span of the grid represents time (and you can see that time divided into bars and beats at the top of the grid).
When you click on a dot, that note will sound using the instrument assigned to the track. So, if you've recorded a piano track, click on a note pitched at Middle C and that's exactly what will emerge from your Mac's speakers or headphones. You can move selected notes not only up and down to change their pitch (so correct that Eb you played instead of a D) but also change their timing by moving them to the left or right. You can additionally change a note's length by dragging on its right edge. You might do this, for example, if the organ chord that ends your piece holds out longer than the other instruments. And if you'd like to add notes, you can do that as well. Just hold down the Command key and click in the grid where you'd like to place your notes.
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