During the past two weeks of in-depth I have learned many new strategies that will allow me to use GarageBand more effectively. I have started learning how to record real instruments, such as an electric piano keyboard, and use them in GarageBand projects. I thought that this would be more difficult than using musical typing and using software instruments, but it has turned out to be much easier. With musical typing I am restricted to playing notes within one octave at a time. This made it difficult when creating my first project because I had to establish which parts of the melody were above and below the octave that I was limited to and record them separately. When I am using a real piano keyboard, I have access to the whole range of octaves. Furthermore, it is quite awkward to play chords when musical typing, and I can only play with one hand at a time. When using a keyboard, I can play chords with three or more notes easily and play with both my right and left hand at the same time. This will allow me to record much more complicated projects.

This week my mentor showed me how to connect a keyboard to GarageBand to record pieces. She also listened to my first project (shown below) and showed me some useful techniques about how to use the program more effectively, and how to use different tools within the software. She noticed that I had several layers of the same instrument playing different parts and showed me several ways to access new instruments and different sounds and loops. This will allow me to create much more interesting sounding pieces and will help me create very accurate sounding covers of songs. When I created my first project, I found it difficult to find the right balance of volume for each different instrument or recording. I wanted each element to be heard, but I found that some of the percussion or harmony parts overwhelmed the melody at times. My mentor taught me about panning, which is a little dial located beside the instrument name and volume adjustment bar. Panning makes it easier to distinguish different tracks within a project. In most pieces of music, the most important tracks are panned to the center, and the other tracks or panned to the left or right. This makes the most important tracks more prominent and noticeable.

When experimenting with the different software available on GarageBand with my mentor I am constantly asking ‘what if questions’. After I finish my project, my mentor and I spend some time editing it, and she lets me adjust different things as we go to see what will happen if I change certain settings (for example, “what if I turn up the bass 25%?”). I have learned so much about GarageBand from my mentor allowing me to freely explore and ask questions to open up new ideas and lines of thought. I have worked with my mentor for several years learning piano and theory. While we review my work and try new strategies, I often try to connect the different strategies to those I have learned with her in piano theory. My mentor and I also connect my work in GarageBand to things I am passionate about by using my skills to replicate songs that I enjoy listening to. For example, my mentor and I chose ‘Shape of You’ by Ed Sheeran for my first project because it is a song that I like that is also quite simple and seemed suitable for my first attempt at creating a project on GarageBand.

Implementing and editing loops of audio can be quite complicated, so I have worked very hard with my mentor to try and get a firm grasp on the strategies and techniques I can use to make it easier. When I ask my mentor questions, I write down the answers in a notebook so that I can remember the answers and use them in my projects. As GarageBand is fairly new to me, sometimes my mentor will use terms that I don’t understand. When this happens, I make a note of the term and politely ask for clarification. This week, my mentor showed me how to record real instruments on GarageBand. She explained to me that when you manually record music, it is beneficial to apply a filter to it that evens out all the timings and rhythms, because humans make mistakes and it is impossible to perfectly time every single note. In my research I found that most professional music producers do this, because music with multiple tracks will begin to sound messy or slightly off if the small errors within each layer aren’t corrected. I used this information to agree with my mentor and support her point. While working with my mentor this week, I reminisced with her over the time that she helped me write and produce my own song when I was young called ‘Rain’. I have always enjoyed creating music, and I am very thankful that my mentor has supported me in exploring these passions.

This week I will be creating my first project using real recorded instruments. Last week I used musical typing and software instruments to create a cover of ‘Shape of You’ by Ed Sheeran. Here is a link to a recording of my first project:

In-Depth Project #1 – Shape of You by Ed Sheeran