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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.

That's good, but the bass player is getting bored. Let's give her something else to do now by dragging the Picked Rock Bass 02 pattern so that it falls directly after the first bass loop. As before, drag the top-right edge to double its length so that it ends at the beginning of measure 9.

Now click the Cycle button that appears just to the right of the display to turn on cycling. The button will light up and a yellow bar will appear in the ruler. Drag the right side of this bar so that it too ends at 9. When you click on GarageBand's Play button, those eight bars of drums and bass will play and, at the end, cycle back and repeat the pattern until you click the Stop button.

While it's playing, once again click the Bass button in the Loops pane and then click on Guitar. Click on the Modern Rock Guitar 07 entry that appears in the list below. In a short time you'll hear that pattern play right along with your drums and bass. Click it again to stop it playing. Click on Modern Rock Guitar 09 to hear how it will sound. Click again to stop the preview.

Drag Modern Rock Guitar 07 into the workflow area just as you did with the bass track. It will appear below that track. Lengthen it as well by dragging on its top-right corner to the 5 mark. Now drag Modern Rock Guitar 09 so that it begins at the 5 mark in this same track. Lengthen it so that it ends at the 9 mark.

As with the bass track, you've created some variation within the guitar track. The two guitar loops work with the existing drum and bass tracks, but you're not hearing the same thing over and over again. There's some variety between the two, which makes for a more interesting groove.

Finally, click on Guitars to turn it off, and enter power station into the Search field, and press the Return key. From the results below, drag the Power Station Arpeggio loop into the workflow area. Double its length by dragging its top-right edge. You've just nicely fattened up your project.

And with that, you've got your groove on without knowing one end of a guitar from the other. Let's now do a couple of things to make it groovier.

Adding effects and mixing
Select the drum track and click the Solo button (the one that shows the image of headphones). You'll now hear just that track. It's not bad at all, but we can punch it up a bit.

Choose GarageBand > Preferences, choose Audio/MIDI, and enable the Global Echo and Reverb option. Close the Preferences window and click on the Smart Controls button in the control bar (or select View > Show Smart Controls or press the Mac's B key). The Drummer track's smart controls appear at the bottom of the window.


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