Lesson 2: Compose Using Loops

In this lesson, you will use loops to compose a short song for piano, bass and drums. You will sort and reset loops in the loop browser and apply editing skills from the previous lesson as you move, edit or repeat selected loops to create two eight-measure phrases in contrasting styles. If you've composed with loops using earlier versions of GarageBand, you will notice a few new things in GarageBand '09.

Here is the sample song from the introduction page: image of GarageBand project

  • Drums: Latin Funk Drum Kit 25 (2 measures), Latin Funk Drum Kit 20 (2 m.), repeat first 4 measures, Exotic World Beat 2 (8 m.).
  • Bass: Woody Latin Bass 1 (8 m.), Round Latin Bass 4 (8 m.).
  • Piano: Latin Lounge Piano 1 (2 m.), Latin Lounge Piano 2 (2 m.), repeat first 4 measures, Latin Lounge Piano 13 (4 m.), Latin Lounge Piano 3 (4 m.).

Tutorial:

Supports:

Would you lilke to look at a piece of paper instead of a web page? Click to download a reference guide (list of menu items and keyboard shortcuts) and the list of practice items for this lesson. Would you like to track your progress? Use the Practice Items pages as a checklist or download the Self-Assessment Rubric.

Reference Guide - Lessons 1-3: Edit, Loops, Arrange (PDF)
Practice Items - Lesson 2: Compose Using Loops (PDF)

loop browser image

Practice Items:

step 1Open GarageBand.


step 2Prepare new GarageBand project.

  • File ⇒ New (⌘N).
  • Name and save project; ignore tempo, signature and key settings for now.
  • Modify settings: Delete on-screen keyboard and default track (⌘+delete), resize window so iTunes will be visible. (Again, you can get rid of the metronome.)

step 3Use LCD to select tempo, key and meter.

  • Depending on your settings, you will have greater or fewer number of loops to choose from.
  • C major, 4/4, and 100 is a safe bet for starting out.
  • You could actually skip this for now and be fine.

step 4Insert and edit drum loop(s) for A section.

  • Open loop browser: Click on eye icon in lower right corner of window or use menu - Control ⇒ Show loop browser (⌘L).
  • Click on the instrument (All Drums) and preferred style (Rock/Blues).
  • Preview loops: Click on icons to start/stop, use arrow keys or mouse to select new loop.
  • Drag/drop selected loop into timeline.
  • Repeat loop for desired number of measures. You can use the same loop for all eight measures or mix it up.

step 5Insert and edit drum loop(s) for B section.

  • Preview loops.
  • Drag/drop selected loop into drum track, AFTER the A section.
  • Again, you can use the same loop for all eight measures of your B section or you can mix it up.
  • If you are considering the musical attributes of your song, A and B sections should be contrasting.

step 6Insert and edit bass loops.

  • In loop browser, click on “Reset.”
  • Click on the instrument (Bass) and preferred style (Rock/Blues).
  • Preview loops.
  • Drag/drop selected loop into timeline. A new track will automatically be inserted to house your bass loop.
  • Align bass loop with A section of drum track.
  • Repeat loop for desired number of measures. Again, you can use the same loop for all eight measures or mix it up.
  • Select and edit loops for B section.

step 7Insert and edit piano loops.

  • In loop browser, click on “Reset.”
  • Click on the instrument (Piano) and preferred style (Rock/Blues).
  • Preview loops.
  • Drag/drop selected loop into timeline. Again, a new track will automatically be inserted to house your piano loop.
  • Align piano loop with A section of drum and bass tracks.
  • Repeat loop for desired number of measures. Again, you can use the same loop for all eight measures or mix it up.
  • Select and edit loops for B section.

step 8Save your song – you will use it again for Lesson 3.


HELPFUL HINTS:

  • Remember, in “measure” view an eight-measure composition goes through “8”, not to “8.”
  • Keep “Snap to Grid” selected – it will help your loops sync nicely.
  • When you are first learning to work with loops, don’t spend a lot of time creating the most beautiful composition in the world – the primary goal here is to learn the tool not create an aesthetically pleasing product.
  • Once you insert a loop, you can replace it by clicking on small arrow in upper left corner of region. The new loop pops into the existing space - you can change your sound without interfering with other regions.
  • Once you save, you will not be able to go back past that if you want to “undo.” When working on a “real” project, you can always save the project with a new name and make changes. If you like the changes you can keep them, but if you don’t you still have the original version saved.

CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS:

Are you looking for new project ideas for your students? Here is a post on Carol Broos' Musictechie wiki: GarageBand not GarbageBand and a link to the THS DIgital Music Class blog. Everything You Wanted to Know About GarageBand is a middle school site that is fairly comprehensive.

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