5 Essential Workflow Tips for GarageBand for iPad

Rounik Sethi on Mar 21, 2011 in GarageBand 39 comments

When musical inspiration strikes there's nothing worse than needing to navigate a clunky software interface before getting your ideas in place. Fortunately, GarageBand for iPad takes much of the 'inte

When musical inspiration strikes there's nothing worse than needing to navigate a clunky software interface before getting your ideas in place. Fortunately, GarageBand for iPad takes much of the 'interface interference' away and allows you to get hands on, quite literally, with your music.

The big question, when creating music, is whether it's quicker to use a mouse and standard keyboard or to use a touch screen? A touch screen lacks the ability to perform quick keyboard shortcuts, but gains on the ability to quickly perform a function via a gesture such as a tap, pinch, swipe, etc.

Now, iOS apps and touch screen interfaces are still in their infancy, so I suspect there will be many changes in the way we interact and communicate with our tablets and computers in the coming years. In the meantime, here are 5 of my favorite GarageBand for iPad shortcuts that will help you get around and get you creating music more quickly with less fuss.

Tip 1 - Start Playback from Anywhere

You may have discovered that by tapping or dragging on the Ruler you can reposition the Playhead. Try double-tapping anywhere along the playhead to begin playback from that position.

As an additional bonus tip, when in the Touch Instrument view you can pinch to zoom on the Ruler to zoom the timeline.

Tip 2 - Show/Hide Track Controls

Tap on the Mixer tab (top right of the Track view) will display the controls for the selected track and allow you to show or hide all Track Controls.

However, that takes at least 2 taps to get to this pop-up. A quicker way to show/hide Track Controls is to swipe right/left respectively over the track controls.

Tip 3 - Go to Touch Instrument View

Once in the Track view switching back to the Instrument's settings normally involves tapping on the View button in the Control Bar.

Another way is to double-tap on the icon of the track. You will be immediately taken to the view page for that Touch Instrument without needing to move your arm those couple of centimeters to the top of your iPad!

Tip 4 - Volume Control & Reset

In Track View double tap a track's volume slider to reset it's volume level to 0dB.

Additionally, double-tapping the Master Volume slider to set it's volume level to 100%. Unfortunately, double-tapping again will not reset the volume level back to 0dB or the previous setting... but this is useful if you want to quickly boost the overall level of your song.

Tip 5 - Swipe Solo and Mute Gestures

This is one of my most loved gestures in GarageBand for iPad (and Logic on the Mac)! Let's say you want to solo the first four tracks in your song in Track view. Your normal route is to tap on the solo button for each track and to un-solo repeat the process. That's 8 individual taps...

A much more satisfying trick is to swipe up or down along the solo or mute buttons for those tracks. This gives you the ability to swipe mute or swipe solo multiple tracks in one fell swoop!

If you have any GarageBand for iPad tips and tricks to share we'd love to hear them. If you have any GarageBand related questions (iPad or Mac) drop us a comment below!

Rounik is the Executive Editor for AskAudioMag.com & the quarterly print magazine by the same name. As an Apple Certified Trainer for Logic (and a self-confessed Mac fanatic) he's taught teachers, professional musicians and hobbyists how to get the best out of Apple's creative software. He is a Visiting lecturer at Bath Spa Univers... Read More

Discussion

brett
1. great Page!!!
2. I can't figure out what
the Merge Recordings function does
on the drum track.
3. is there a way to choose the
chords in the smart instruments?
4. if you are powering a usb keyboard
keyboard from the ipad via cable
the ipad will stop sending juice to the keyboard
Rounik Sethi
Hi Brett. Thanks!

2. I'll get back to you about Merge recordings for drum tracks when I'm next near my iPad!

3. You can choose the scale for smart instruments.

4. Which USB Keyboard are you using with the iPad?

:)
Eric
Thanks for the tips! Any way to merge tracks?
Eric
Ok. Another question: any way to rename tracks or sections? Thanks!
Rounik
Hi brett

By merge recording do you mean that while recording in GarageBand for iPad that the section repeats? This allows you (especially when recording drums) to record multiple sounds one at a time. E.g. On the first pass record the kick, then the snare, then third pass the hi hats, etc.
Rounik
Hi Eric,

Thanks! There is only one way to merge tracks currently... And that's to export your entire project to an AAC file - however, currently it's not possible to import an AAC file into GB for iPad via iTunes... I'm hopefully an update will appeR to fix that... Again, it's very possible to export your song in a format that will (once an update appears) be editable within GB for Mac.

Unfortunately, it's not possible to rename tracks in GB for iPad yet :(
Rounik Sethi
An update for GarageBand '11 for Mac has been released today (6.0.2) which "supports opening projects imported from GarageBand for iPad."

Anyone tried it yet?
ron dobbs
There is a utube video by a guy named larry jones which shows a technique for saving a mix to itunes and then importing it back into ipad garageband as a new song .It comes back in as a stereo mix and enables multi track overdubs....up to 30 tracks. I cannot seem to get this to work. Anyone know the technique? Thank you...
Rounik Sethi
Hi Ron,

I've tried a few methods to import songs created in GB for Mac into GB for iPad... so far no luck. Can you post the link to this video please. Thanks.
Kent
I was wondering how to import a mixdown track and ran across this blog. I found the video that ron dobbs is talking about. It is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kRKy418yxk&playnext=1&list=PL78EB07331E6196D1 but the guy doesn't actually show how he brings it back in.
Beth Champion Mason
This might be a dumb question, but I can't seem to figure out how to stop the screen from turning off (and thus ending my recording) when I'm doing Audio Recording. Surely there's a simple option for this, I've just missed it? :) Any help is greatly appreciated!
Rounik Sethi
Hi Beth,

I believe this is the "Auto-Lock" feature on the iPad. So return to the Home screen and tap on 'Settings > General > Auto-Lock
here you can set the time after which the iPad turns off.

:)
Rounik Sethi
@Kent, Thanks for the link. So, this video shows only how to export a full 'song' as a stereo file and then re-import it into a project... but it doesn't show to export a song as a fully editable song and then re-import it via iTunes into GB for iPad.

Thanks for the link though :)
Beth Champion Mason
Thanks Rounik! I've only had my iPad for 6 days, so I hadn't had a chance to learn some of that basic stuff yet. :)
Rounik Sethi
That's great Beth! Hope you're enjoying your new iPad and GarageBand for iPad too.

If you have any questions or need any software help ask here or on the MPV forums.
http://www.macprovideo.com/forum/

:)

Best,
Rounik
You can cut out a small piece of a track to remove, say a bad note, and it will smoothly go over the bad part staying in time using the split feature. You can also shrink the ending of tracks so they don't cut off abruptly, making a better ending when you email a finished song. (by tapping the end of a track and dragging the double bars to left a little.
Christian
Fade out is also a possiblity
Rounik
Good tips. Although cutting out a region of one note becomes tricky when you have overlapping notes / sustained notes. Would love for there to be a proper Piano Roll editor.
How do I access the jigsaw at the top left and what does it do?
Rounik
Hi!

The Jigsaw icon has been removed in the latest update for GB for iOS... you're not missing any functionality by it not being there :)

Christian
Hi,

I have a little question: is there a way inserting a blank space at the beginning of a allready recorded song, so I can record a intro? Dragging all tracks is very difficult (impossible) because there are too many small blocks in each track. Or is it possible to convert all blocks in one block. This would make dragging much easier.
Thanks for reply.
Christian
Rounik
Hi Christian,

It depends how many bars space you need at the beginning?

1. Tap the + button in the Timeline. This will allow you to create a new section.

2. Tap on The blue arrow next to the new section and manually choose how long this section should be (e.g. 2 bars).

3. Go back to the song sections menu and tap on the "Edit" button. Now drag the new short section to the begging of the song (above the other sections).

Done!

:)
Christian
Thanks for quick reply Rounik.
I couldn't find Edit-button. What I did :

1. Created a new section B
2. Duplicated section A (recorded song)
3. Section C (=copy section A) comes after section B
4. Deleted section A
5. Section B comes in front of song (now section C)
6. I recorded intro in section B

Problem: now I can only replay section B, and section A is not following automatically. How can I fix this, and if not, where can I find the song section menu and the "edit"button?
Christian, a learning GB user...
Rounik
Hi Christian,

I've replied on the MPV forums so I can use images to help the process :)

follow this link:

http://www.macprovideo.com/forum/audio/garageband/39813

Cheers!
R
Christian
Thank you very much, Rounik! Your reply did solve my issue. I first didn't know that ALL the action took place in the "little" section screen. Thanks again and have a nice day!
A happy GB-user...
Rounik
Hi Christian. I'm glad to hear it helped :)

Have a great day too and enjoy GB for iPad!

Best,
R
Christian
Still a small question: recording further my song I wonder if all blocks (a result of copy and paste) can be changed in one block so that any dragging or splitting becomes easier in working out the song later? Thanks in advance.
Regards,
Christian
Rounik
Hi Christian,

I don't think so unless you render/bounce/export each track down to individual audio files and reimport them into a new song. But that way you'll lose the "easy to edit" MIDI data.

You can always export your song and then load it up in GarageBand for Mac where you'll discover more effects, instruments, loops and editing functionality.

:)
Christian
Thanks again for your professional assistance.

:)
Melvyn
Rounik, thanks for your post, the original article, and the questions are very helpful. Do you know if one can edit(split) multiple tracks simultaneously, for example, song has 8 total tracks, but you only want to select 3 of those to split?
Rounik
Hi Melvyn,

Thanks!

Unfortunately, I've not come across a way to select multiple regions across different tracks.

The only workaround I can think of (which would be unsuitable for most purposes) would be to merge tracks and then split the one track. The problem with this is you lose the ability to edit and mix each track individually after they've been merged.

Best,
R
Christian
Hello again Rounik,

Other little question: intending to buy iPad 3 or 4. Can I transfer GarageBand app and all my songs from my first iPad to the new one without losing or changing things?
Thanks for reply.
Rounik
Hi Christian,

Sure. You can easily sync GB for iOS via iTunes on your Mac/PC or download it from the iTunes store.

Also, you can export each of your songs from GB to iTunes from your iPad 1... then import then on your iPad 3... or 4 :)
Christian
Thanks.
hello. when i import a track to itunes where should i be looking in my ipad to open the file? i can't seem to find it in my itunes. thank u.
Rounik
Hi,

Follow these instructions to share files from your Mac to your iPad:

1. Plug your iPad into your Mac.

2. Select your iPad under "Devices" in the iTunes Library column.

3. Click on the "Apps" tab at the top of the iTunes interface and scroll down to the 'File Sharing" section.

4. Select GarageBand (or other compatible app) and choose "Add". Then select the file from your computer you wish to share with that app on your iPad.

Hope this helps
Rounik
Christian
Hello Rounik,

Did the import-export of GB via iTunes. At a certain moment, synchronising my old & new iPad, I lost my GB-app, had to download back GB-app via iTunes. But somewhere, somehow I lost all my songs...I allready had the last takes imported in iTunes, so that's OK. However I can't find the history (earlier takes) of my songs. HELP!!!
I'm afraid I lost everything, though I hope you can help me out...Thanks for your reply.

Christian
Rounik
Hi Christian,

I'm sorry to hear that... I've not come across this issue before... it seems that when your gb app was deleted the app data was deleted too... in which case, I'm not sure if it is possible to recover this data.

one method that may work is to connect your ipad to your mac and restore your previous backup:
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1414?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US

hope this helps?
Rounik
Mark
Anyway to import video from iPad into the ipad garage band