Posted Thursday, May 27, 2004

Hijacking GarageBand

Here's another excerpt from The Macintosh iLife '04. This one is from the GarageBand section of the book, and it's one of my favorite GarageBand tips.

And exactly when is this much-hyped book going to be available, you ask? My editor at Peachpit Press called me yesterday to say that she'd received her first copy from the printer. The books have been printed and bound, and have been shipped to the company that glues the DVD envelopes onto the inside front cover. (Talk about specialization!) I should see my first copies in about a week.

And now, the tip.

If you've played with the settings in GarageBand's software instrument generators, you may have noticed something: by moving a setting's slider while simultaneously playing some notes, you can create some incredible sounds. You might have even found yourself wishing you could record those sounds -- after all, one big advantage of a real synthesizer is those knobs that you can twiddle to alter the sound as you play.

GarageBand doesn't let you record the twiddling of its sliders, at least not yet. But there is a way. It's a bit awkward, but it works: by using Rogue Amoeba's Audio Hijack software (a trial version of which is included on your DVD), you can record yourself twiddling GarageBand settings.

Simply set up Audio Hijack to hijack GarageBand, and then start playing and twiddling. You can also record the panning of a track from one channel to the other -- another feat GarageBand doesn't permit. When you've finished, drag the Audio Hijack recording into a real instrument track and continue building your song.

High-end music software, such as Apple's Logic Audio, enables you to automate effects -- for example, to turn activate echo partway through a song, then turn it back off. GarageBand doesn't permit this, but you can get the benefits of automation by using this technique.

Changing Effects. Want to apply an effect, such as echo, to only part of a track? You can use the hijacking technique, but here's an easier method. Duplicate the track, then move the region to which you want to apply the new effect to the duplicate track. Now apply the effect to the duplicate track. To create a smooth transition between the two tracks, create volume curves for each track.

Paper doesn't do justice to GarageBand. As the only book/instructional DVD hybrid on the planet, The Macintosh iLife '04 also includes a two-hour instructional DVD that dovetails with the book. The GarageBand portion of the DVD is about 30 minutes long. In it, I demonstrate how to build songs, modify and edit loops, create effects, and much more. The DVD-ROM portion of the disc contains a huge library of GarageBand loops, example songs, and add-ons and AppleScripts for the other iLife '04 programs, too. $20.99 buys the latest edition of what one reviewer called "the best computer book ever." Pre-order today.