About one week ago I made my first ever beat in Garageband. It was a simple homage to a friend of mine who also produces beats in Garageband, with a early hip hop era beat complete with a bass and handclap, a la 1982. I am using Alesis MULTIMIX4 USB mixer as an interface for the vocals and used an aggressive hall delay. Listening to the vox, I can tell that they need to be smoothed out a bit into the mix, but this was my very first beat and I was basically messing around, experimenting. One thing I was proud of is the fade out at the end. Although I am not sure if this affects the normalizing of the beat when you export it. It is hard to adjust the normalizing feature in Garageband, as I think it automatically normalizes the track on export as long as you set it up in the applications preferences. You can hear this simple, crude and somewhat humorous beat here.
For the second beat, I got a little more serious. I added reverb to the bass and snare and only used those two drums to create a sort of Joy Division-esque, simple beat simply by playing the drums with my computer keyboard. In Garageband, by pressing Command K on a Mac you can pull up the virtual piano and manipulate the sound of the instrument you selected. I was really stoked about a pad I found in the program called the Warm Arp Pad. The arpeggiated pattern it creates is very Bladerunner-ish and the notes I used are C and B flat and C an octave higher in tandem and D Flat and A Flat and still hold the same higher C note as the previous pattern.
The piano sound used on this track was Steinway Grand Piano. As you can see from illustration 1.3, I tweaked the settings a bit and added some moderate reverb and echo to the piano’s default setting. The piano notes played are C C-octave-up A-Flat B-Flat G. I feel this piano sound gives it the classic NIN feel with a simple melody and lots of sustain.
For the bass, I simply used a sub bass setting and played an A note an octave apart. I did not tweak the bass settings. I also used a sort of arp bass when the grand piano comes in called a Tube Bass.
All in all, I am pretty satisfied with this being my first serious beat in Garageband. The next beat I create I will attempt to demystify how complex drum patterns are created. I am not sure how complex drum patterns can get in Garageband, but I will see what I can come up with. Eventually I will upgrade to Logic Pro, which is a more complex derivative of Garageband, with better plugins and overall sounds. I will say that I am pretty impressed so far with Garageband as a free Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). It is definitely a good DAW for the hobbyist, or a beginner who wants to start simple and see if making beats is something he or she would like to eventually take more seriously.
Garageband setup with virtual keyboard 1.1
Drum Reverb 1.2
Piano Setup 1.3