GarageBand iOS – 6 x Songwriting & Production Tip

GarageBand iOS (on your iPhone or iPad) is a great tool to improve your songwriting skills. However it’s very easy to get that ‘made in GarageBand’ sound. No offence Apple!

I’ve delivered countless lessons and have heard thousands of GarageBand tracks. Here’s what I’ve learnt about making a great sounding song inside GarageBand iOS

Tip # 1 – Sound Library

Every year apple release new content for GarageBand iOS. This new content includes, Liveloop grids, loops, software instrument plugins/patches and drum kit sounds. Some of the recent updates have been excellent!

If you want to get the most out of your iPad or iPhone as a music creation tool then download the full library. Think of this music app’s sound library as a painter having more colours to work with.


Tip # 2 – Beats

Not everyone is good at writing interesting drum parts and even fewer people are good at playing them. My first tip is to make use of the awesome drum beats in the loop library. Once you’ve selected a good loop, add accompaniment using the touch drums, sequencer or smart drums to give it a personal touch.

It’s often the snare drum that lowers the perceived quality of the beat. By using an expertly played and produced kit with additional sounds from the software drums you will quickly produce a high quality sounding drum track.


Tip # 3 Layers

Adding channel layers in your instrument tracks will create a much richer sound.

Imagine you have played a lead melody on the alchemy synth. Instead of leaving this as a single track, copy and paste this track. Then change the patched plugin. Copy the original midi brick to this new channel. Voila!

You now have a double tracked layer. Repeat this exercise as shown below. Choose software instrument sounds that match the vibe of your song. Simply blend the channel volumes together to create a unique sound!


Tip # 4 Avoid

Over using the main smart instruments in your song. Particularly the Smart Piano and the Smart Guitar. These sounds are very obviously ‘GarageBand’ and will likely give your song away. Use these sound sparingly!

Mix them or layer them into other sounds to make them more distinguished.


Tip # 5 Production & FX

Spend time in the mixer menu applying compression and adjusting the channel treble and eq. Next apply the right master effects (Echo & Reverb). Think of this as your first layer of production.

Add the right amount of FX to your tracks to create interest without destroying the feel of your song.

Be vary sparing with the main FX tab, only add these effects when and where you song really requires it.

You may get the best results applying fx to a single channel then ‘merging’ the channel and fx down together.

This means the fx only applies to that track, not the whole song (warning, when’s its merged there’s no going back)


Tip # 6 Quantisation

No matter how well you play, you will regularly make timing mistakes. One of the most important tips I can offer is quantisation.

Quantisation will drag your notes in time. Timing is one of the most important aspects of music that beginners get wrong

When you record a take, enter the quantisation menu and check one of the options. If you want a slight amount of quantisation select 1/64.

1/16 works well for drums. 1/4 is stronger and works well on simple chords.


In summary

I hope that these simple tips are easy to follow and will laid you in creating more authentic music. If your new to GragaeBand music making you may benefit from GarageBand Songwriting. These video lessons will teach you all the basics as a beginner.

“iOs gives you the power of a micro recording studio and a suite of software instruments. We’ll teach you how to use the program as well as creative songwriting techniques. By the 6th session you will comfortable and confident  creating music inside GarageBand.

It’s my conviction that music apps are now an essential element of music eduction and music in schools more generally. Are you an educator, teacher or student?

I’d love to hear from you about your musical experiences. david@musichands.co.uk

Until next time!

Mr. O

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