GarageBand first screen

Audio Composing with GarageBand

When we listen to a National Public Radio show while driving down the highway, watch a movie, enjoy a song from a wide range of sources, play a Podcast from the Net, or click on a sound player on a Web page, we listen to a mix of sounds. These mixes will often include some simultaneous combination of human voice, multiple musical instruments and special effect sounds from nature or human-made sources. The layers of sounds in the mix are called tracks. The software applications for making and combining a set of tracks are called audio and music editors. There are many applications, such as Soundation and Audacity, that provide a range of the features needed for such compositions, but only one that provides such a complete set of options in such an easy to use design. GarageBand is a wonderful application for all things audio, from learning to play musical instruments, to creating songs, recording audio and/or music, making podcasts, and creating musical scores for video projects.

It is helpful to start with some example audio compositions that can be roughly divided into music compositions and speech compositions (which are mixed with various degrees of music and special effects).

Music Example Sources

For music, the Web site called iCompositions has tens of thousands of playable examples of musical compositions created with GarageBand and other audio editors.

Speech Example Sources

The simplest way to find examples of podcasts is to do a Google search for the word podcast and the subject of interest. For example podcast horses or podcast "civil war". The word webcast or audiocast is also used in place of podcast so experiment with inserting those terms also. Though podcasts started out being audio only, increasingly the term has also come to mean video shows as well. To increase the odds of finding audio only examples, search for audiocast.

For speech compositions, the cross-platform iTunes application plays not only songs but podcasts. The linked videoclip describes the over 100,000 podcast resources on every topic that are available online for download and playback on computer or iPod device. This includes work from professionals done by organizations such as ABC News and National Public Radio as well as creative work from individuals from around the world. Podcasts can play on any computer and on a wide variety of mobile devices from iPods to smart phones.

Listening to podcast shows is a great way to think about how audio is used for radio shows and news reports and to get ideas for new projects. It is even more helpful to see sample scripts for radio and news shows. Search for radio show scripts.

Also search for news show scripts. One of the great Web resources for old time radio shows from the golden age of radio is the Generic Radio Workshop and its library of scripts. WCHS, an ABC station provides a weekly page of scripts that can provide writing examples.

Get GarageBand Running

GarageBand runs only on Apple technology, including Macs, iPads and iPhones. It is an excellent audio editor, music composition editor and film scoring application. It also includes a Lessons Store. To use it on a Mac, click the Guitar symbol in the Dock or in the application folder. The current version is GarageBand 11.

Tutorials on How to Use GarageBand

The fast way to get a musical composition is to use Magic GarageBand. Explore the links below for options on how to learn how to use it yourself.

To Record and mix music watch:

All these screencast titles will show on the same display screen but they are linked separately on this page to make it clear which ones out of the larger set should have priority in viewing.

Apple's Tutorials

Atomic Learning Tutorials (must login to Atomic Learning using the link in the Tutorials/Application Services folder in Blackboard, then click the links below.

Sharing a Finished Audio Composition with GarageBand

screen shot of Share pulldown menuSome of the clips above show how to create mp3 files that can go in other applications and Web pages once a creation is complete. In short, select the Share command in the menu bar, then select Export Song to Disk. Select Compress Using Mp3 Encoder. Select one of three quality settings, the higher the quality the larger the file size. Then click Export and select the location for the file to be saved.

This file might be played by itself to a class, inserted in a Powerpoint slide, or might be put on a Web page for more global sharing, only a slightly more involved process than inserting into a slideshow.

Putting an Audio File on a Web Page

It might be helpful to click and scroll to an example of an mp3 player gadget on one type of Web page. The size of the gadgets is made up of changeable width and height numbers. Here's an example of how the Web host of Google Site enables mp3 playing from its Web pages.

For more step by step details, see the screen movie on how to insert audio on a page at Google Sites.

Now, pat yourself on the back. Audio composition is one of the fundamental elements of the digital palette. If you followed some of the tutorials above, you would have created some quick musical compositions. Not bad at all. Now look for an opportunity to integrate such knowledge into a lesson you are teaching.

Other Serious Tutorials on GarageBand



Parent chapters - Updated to version 1.67, September 10, 2012.  Page author: Houghton