Lesson 7: Record Using Real and Software Instruments

In this lesson, you will connect a USB microphone and USB keyboard (if available) to your computer. You will set preferences for input and output devices then record using a USB microphone, a USB keyboard, musical typing, and GarageBand's on-screen keyboard.

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 & Practice Items - Lesson 7: Record (PDF)

Practice Items:

step 1Connect USB microphone to your computer and set preferences in GarageBand.

  • The USB end of the cable goes into your computer, the other end goes into the microphone.
  • Open preferences window: GarageBand ⇒ Preferences (⌘,).
  • Audio/MIDI: Select desired audio output from drop-down menu (speakers that the sound will come out of). Whatever your computer has available will appear in the list.
  • Audio/MIDI: Select desired input from drop-down menu (microphone that the sound will record from). Again, whatever your computer has available will appear in the list.

step 2Open new GarageBand project and select track type.

  • Choose “Voice” from project window.
  • For this example, we will use GarageBand like a tape recorder, so there is no need to set tempo, key or meter signature.
  • Use male or female (default) or select Track ⇒ New Basic Track (shift+⌘N).
  • Delete unused tracks: Track ⇒ Delete Track (shift+⌫).
  • Click on “i” icon to show/hide the Track Info pane (⌘I).
  • De-select metronome as needed. (Sound of metronome will be recorded if audio output is through speakers.)

step 3Record using USB microphone.

  • Speak/Play/Sing into the microphone and watch the input signal.
  • Adjust microphone placement and settings (Blue Snowball has three) as needed.
  • Transport Controls are the same as a CD player or tape recorder.
  • Click “record” to record and “play” to stop.
  • Note: Song will continue to play when you stop recording unless you click the play button.
  • Undo: Edit ⇒ Undo recording (⌘Z).
  • Redo: Edit ⇒ Redo recording (shift+⌘Z).
  • Disconnect USB microphone.

step 5Connect USB keyboard to your computer and set preferences in GarageBand.

  • The USB end of the cable goes into your computer, the other end goes into the keyboard.
  • Open preferences window: GarageBand ⇒ Preferences (⌘,).
  • Audio/MIDI: Select desired audio output from drop-down menu (speakers that the sound will come out of). Whatever your computer has available will appear in the list.
  • Audio/MIDI: Select desired input from drop-down menu (keyboard that the sound will record from). Again, whatever your computer has available will appear in the list.

step 6Open new GarageBand project and select track type.

  • Choose “Piano” from project window.
  • If you will add loops to your recording, it is best to set key, tempo and meter signature when you open a project.
  • If you are recording multiple tracks, I highly recommend using the built-in metronome. You can hear it but it won’t be audible in the recording.
  • Delete unused tracks: Track ⇒ Delete Track (shift+⌫).
  • Click on “i” icon to show/hide the Track Info pane (⌘I).

step 7Record using USB keyboard then select instruments.

  • Play the keyboard and watch the input signal.
  • Adjust volume as needed.
  • Transport Controls are the same as a CD player or tape recorder.
  • Click “record” to record and “play” to stop.
  • In Master Track pane experiment with instrument sounds.
  • Changing tempo settings will alter the playback speed of the recording.

step 8Record using built-in keyboards.

  • Window ⇒ Keyboard (⌘K): Mouse click on-screen keyboard for note entry.
  • Window ⇒ Musical Typing (shift+⌘K). Type on computer keyboard for note entry.
  • Drag MP3 version of song into GarageBand project.

keyboard musical typing

MAKING CONNECTIONS

Working with input devices means that you need to connect things to your computer. Here are some tips for getting your microphone and keyboard to cooperate with your computer:

  • When not in use, keep cords with devices; this makes it easier to know what goes with what.
  • I’m “old school” - I’m used to plugging things in to electricity and pushing the power button. However, many input devices are now plug-and-play, which means you connect it to the computer and it’s ready to go - no power cord, no buttons to push.
  • If the cable doesn’t fit, don’t force it. Check that the cable-shape matches the jack-shape and that the cable is oriented correctly to the jack – it might be upside down.
  • Make sure cords are firmly attached to the computer and input device.
  • Think of it like plumbing – where does the sound start? Where does it go next? Make sure things that need to go “in” are not connected to an “out.”
  • If it still doesn't work, quit GarageBand, disconnect the microphone/keyboard, wait 30 seconds, reconnect, and re-open GarageBand.
  • If all else fails, ask for help. If there’s not another music teacher nearby, there might be someone who is “computer savvy” who can help. Don’t be afraid to ask your students - there will likely be several who would jump at the chance to be your tech support.

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