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Get your groove on with GarageBand loops

Christopher Breen | Jan. 17, 2014
In last week's Let's Create a Ringtone lesson, I attempted to show you that even musical novices can get value from GarageBand. And many of you grudgingly gave it a go. This week we're going to create a rockin' little multi-instrument groove. And yes, if you can click and drag, this is also well within your grasp.

In last week's Let's Create a Ringtone lesson, I attempted to show you that even musical novices can get value from GarageBand. And many of you grudgingly gave it a go. This week we're going to create a rockin' little multi-instrument groove. And yes, if you can click and drag, this is also well within your grasp.

That's because GarageBand includes a collection of loops — audio blocks that you can piece together to form musical phrases. The particular magic of this operation is that you needn't worry about the speed of your song or creating something where chords and notes are going to horribly clash. GarageBand was engineered so that these loops fit seamlessly together. Let's give it a go.

Creating your loop project
For this exercise we'll be using GarageBand along with the content you get with its $5 in-app purchase. If you haven't yet pungled up for the extra content (and really, you should), follow along using the default collection of loops.

Launch GarageBand. From its Projects chooser click on Empty Project and click Choose. When the main window opens and you're offered the choice to add a particular kind of track (Software Instrument, Audio, Guitar, or Drummer), click on Drummer and then click Create. You now have a project that contains a single track called SoCal. There are two instances of the drum pattern here, with the second beginning where it reads 9' in the ruler. Click on the second one and then press the Mac's Delete key so that you have just the one instance.

Click on the Apple Loops button on the far right of the control bar (the middle button in that group) to expose the Loops pane.

In the Search field type in rock and press Return. Now click the Bass button at the top of the Loops pane. Locate the Picked Rock Bass 01 entry and click on it. You'll hear a bass pattern emerge from your Mac's speakers. Drag this item to the far left of the workflow area (where it says Drag Apple Loops Here). A blue track will appear that bears the track's name.

If you now click on GarageBand's Play button, you'll hear two bars (eight beats) of that bass pattern accompanied by the drum track. Given that you don't want to create the shortest groove on earth, click on the track and hover your cursor over its top-right corner. The icon will change to a vertical line that has a half circle with an arrow on the end. This symbol means "repeat." With that symbol showing, click and drag on the track to extend it to where the ruler shows the number 5. When you do this, you'll create two instances of this two-bar pattern.

 

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