All about......
Effect Automation

Is there a way to add or change an effect through a song?

What you're looking for is Effect Automation, like the Volume and Pan curves, right?

Yeah, that's it, automation!

Unfortunately, GarageBand thus far, up to version 3, does not offer effect automation.

Then this is going to be a very short article, isn't it?

I didn't say it couldn't be done, just that GB doesn't offer Effect Automation.

Stop using systematics!


Whatever, can it be done?

In a way. Since we do have Volume Automation (the curves) we can take advantage of that to sort of fake an effect automation. We can't radically alter the effect parameters through time very easily, but we can still do some neat stuph.

In the most simple example, we don't even have to use the volume curve. Suppose we had a song that we wanted to end with the last note ringing off into echo-land

Where is Echo-land?

Take a left after Albuquerque, now hush ...

Here's what the last bar of a song looks like... a simple piano part.


The problem is that it sounds like


A rather abrupt ending which detracts from an otherwise relaxing piece. Now suppose that

this was the final result we were after

Well, duh! You just add reverb and echo to the track, that's not automation

Not so fast grasshopper,

here's what that sounds like if we simply add all those effects to the track



So how CAN it be done?

Just to get the ideas to start flowing, we'll start with a very simple approach for this piece

It won't be simple

Yes it will


Hush! This can be set up in just a few seconds, but we'll take it slowly and step by step.

First we'll duplicate the Piano track



Now hold down the OptionKey, click on the piano region, and drag down into the new track we've created to copy the region.


This gives us two identical tracks with identical regions in them. If we add effects now, we'll wind up with that same mixed up thing we heard earlier in example 3, so what we're going to do is get rid of everything except the last note in our new track. To do this we first place the playhead at the point we wish to separate the parts, making sure only the region in our second track is selected.

auto Select "Split" from the Edit menu


And our second track looks like this (I've moved the playhead so you can better see the split)


Since all we want is that last note we shift-click the second part to deselect it


Press the DeleteKey, and we're left with just the final note. Our project now looks like this


can you see where we're headed?

Yes, I think so, now you can add effects to the second track, and since there's only one note, that's all that will be effected

You grow wise young grasshopper! Indeed, what we do is set up some insane echo effects on that second track


And we get what you heard in the second example.


So you understand all that?

Yes, totally! Great, then we can move on to a more complex example

Ruh roh!

Don't panic, it's somewhat similar, we'll be using 2 tracks, but we'll also be taking advantage of the Volume Curve

Um, okay ::twist twist twist::

What are you doing?!

Tightening the screws

In your head?

Yes, it helps...

...I know, keep your brains from exploding.


Just sit quietly, I have faith in you.

Here's an example where I wanted the word "world" to go from very clean to distorted and with a bit of a swell

The approach is very much like what we did with the piano, the difference is that instead of deleting anything, we're going to use the volume curve.

Start by duplicating the track, then copy the region into the new track. Add the desired effect and fine tune whatever you use until it sounds right.

Now we open up the Volume Curve feature: Click the upside-down triangle in the Track Header


And then adjust the volume curve so that the volume of the effected track slowly rises, mixing in with the first track


In a slightly roundabout way, we have achieved Effect Automation

We have?

We have.

We have!!! Yay for achieving!!

You might want to loosen those screws now.

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