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The DoorPost - GarageBand tips newsletter is sent to you every three months and is full of extra tips on how to get the most out of GarageBand. It takes a more in-depth look at some important aspects of digital audio and home recording with GarageBand. Also: Links to free loops, effects and software instruments.
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All about......
Building a Software Instrument

Is there any way that I can make my own software instrument in GarageBand?

Sure, you can get Polyphontics, this will allow you to create an actual instrument from your own sounds that you can play with a MIDI controller (or musical typing, if you just wanted to play around).

Wow, that looks neat, but I don't think I need something that advanced.

Okay, what exactly do you want to be able to do?

Well, I just have all these sounds we recorded, like riffs and stuff, and I just wanted to be able to make them play.

In that case, GB3 has everything you need!



Is my head going to explode?

I don't think so, but maybe tie it down, just in case...

To start off, we'll create a new Podcast project:

Wait! I don't want to make a podcast!!!!

Stick with me Arty, we won't be making a podcast (and a single exclamation point will suffice, k? Tnx). We start this way because it sets us up with an instrument track that we need without having to find it. Once created your project will have these tracks:
building 1

and GarageBand will treat it as a podcast, meaning it'll do something in a different way, which we'd like to avoid.

We're only interested in the last one, the "Radio Sounds" track, so we'll delete the other 4. This can quickly be done by holding down the CommandKey and pressing the DeleteKey 4 times. Once you do this, your project will look like this:
Building 2

Now here's the rather elegant and extremely simple method Apple offers for adding sounds

You say simple, but you don't mean it!

I do! Watch!

First, open the Musical Typing keyboard
buliding 3

We have a REAL MIDI keyboard, we don't need Musical Typing!!!

Just follow me here, we need to do this to get your sounds into GarageBand (and 3 exclamation points is still more than 1!)

With the Musical Typing keyboard visible, all you have to do is drag the sound you want from Finder over the key you wish to be able to trigger it, and drop it, like this:
bulding 4

Now whenever you play that note, from the little graphical keyboard, Musical Typing, your real MIDI keyboard, or even MIDIKey, the sound you dropped on that key will play.

And how many sounds can I add?

One for every key!

Oh man! But there are only 18 keys!

Actually there are quite a bit more than 18?

No there aren't.

Yes there are, if you use the Key Range selector, at the top of the Musical Typing window:
building 5

you can drag the selected area to a different range:
building 6

and drop another set of 18 sounds onto the 18 keys



Now once you've dropped all the sounds you want onto the keyboard, you'll want to save your "New Instrument"

And I do that by...?

You open Track Info by clicking the building 7 button

Select a category in which you'd like to store your new instrument
bulding 8

Click buidling 9

Enter a name for your instrument:
buidling 10

And press "Save". That's it, you now have a new software instrument that you can use in any future project you might create. Your instrument will appear in the Software Instrument list right where you saved it:
buidling 11

Ready for use in any project you create.

That's cool!

Yeah, it is, really.

And I can use ANY sounds I want to use?

Pretty much, though for best results they should be in either AIFF or WAV format

You could also use this method to remap sounds from some other instrument, though you'll lose any special functions that instrument may have

What do you mean?

Well you'll lose things like velocity sensitivity and such.

And why would I want to do this?

Suppose you have an actually MIDI drum kit, a controller, and hitting the snare on your kit produced the wrong sound. You could create your own instrument so that whatever key the snare drum plays then triggers the sound of your choosing

That's the remapping you mentioned?


How would I do that?

One way might be to check out the Sampler Files that GarageBand uses to make its drum kits, and drop the AIFF files on to the Musical Typing keyboard. Poking around on my System I find these are used for the Rock Kit:
buidling 12

What you see here are the audio files that are used for the Bass Drum, the Crash Ride, and the High Hat. Be careful not to mess with the contents of the folder, like actually moving the files somewhere else, but you can drop any of these on the Musical Typing keyboard for your new instrument.

And obviously you can make your own recordings of a drum kit and add those

Yeah, but I can't play the drums

One more among many things you can't do, my friend

Well... yeah.

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