GarageBand is a fully equipped music creation studio for Apple Macintosh — with a complete sound library that includes instruments, presets for guitar and voice, and an incredible selection of session drummers and percussionists.
Most new iPhones and iPads come with Garage Band installed so it is worth taking a look at.
We will not look here at the music production aspect of GarageBand as it is too big a subject and there are many online tutorials.
However we will look at one aspect that we at Omni Music have found useful in workshop settings; which is the use of the virtual instruments for live performance.
In this example we will select a violin and set it in the key of A major
First open GarageBand and go to My Songs then in the top right corner press the + sign which will start a new song and reveal a new page.
Select the track option in the top centre of the page and a menu of instrument categories will appear. Swipe left or right until the ‘STRINGS’ category is displayed. Next tap on the ‘Notes’ icon on the bottom row of icons.
A new page opens showing four instrument options; Violin, Viola, Cello and Bass. Tap on the Violin image and it will be illuminated.
The violin is now active and the sound can be heard by moving a finger along one of the four strings displayed.
Now to make it easier to play we will set the violin in a key. Tap the ‘Scale’ icon above the violin neck and a drop down menu will appear. Select ‘Major ‘ from the list then tap ‘Scale’ again and the menu will disappear. Note the ”Scale’ icon now displays ‘Major’ and the neck of the violin now displays a grid representing the notes in a major key. The default setting is the key of C so the violin is now ready to play in the key of C
Note: the shaded squares represent the root note of C
To set the violin in the key of A tap the spanner icon to reveal the ‘Settings’ menu then select ‘Key Signature’ which will reveal a new menu. Select the letter A from this menu then tap the spanner icon again to make the menu disappear.
Note: In this instance it doesn’t matter whether ‘Major’ or ‘Minor’ is selected on this page as the ‘Scale’ selection for the violin will override this scale selection.
The violin is now ready to be played in the key of A major.
Try sliding a finger on the bottom string from the left shaded box to the right shaded box.
The ascending scale of A major can be heard.
One other setting that can be useful for the live violin is the timbre of the sound. To experiment with the four variations tap the brown tab on the top left of the instrument and a menu will appear showing the four options. Try selecting different options and compare the sound until the preferred tone is found.