How to Build your first track

Mac|Life - - CREATE -

Start a project

Down­load GarageBand for free from the Mac App Store, or open it from your Mac’s Ap­pli­ca­tions folder if it came pre­in­stalled. In the app’s open­ing win­dow you’ll see a num­ber of project tem­plates to choose from.

Add a track

Dou­ble-click on the Empty Project op­tion to start a brand new project. Next, you are prompted to set the type of your first track. For this ex­am­ple, choose Soft­ware In­stru­ment by se­lect­ing that op­tion, then click Cre­ate.


You’ll prob­a­bly want to start with some kind of a beat, so open the loops li­brary by click­ing the Ap­ple Loops but­ton at the top right of the win­dow. To fil­ter the list of loops, click the Loop Pack pop-up and pick a cat­e­gory.


Click a loop to hear it. To place a loop into a project, drag it from the li­brary and drop it on a track in the cen­tre. Its tempo will ad­just to match the project. To change the project’s tempo, dou­ble-click the tempo box at the top.

Make the loop longer

Drag the right-hand edge of the loop to the right to add more copies of the loop. Then find an­other loop, say a bass or gui­tar, and drag that to a new track, ex­tend­ing it to cover as many bars as you like, too.

Add a real record­ing

To add a real record­ing, choose Track > New Track, se­lect the op­tion to record us­ing a mi­cro­phone, and click Cre­ate. Con­nect some head­phones and a good USB mic. With this track se­lected, press Record in the tool­bar.

Mix the song

Press the Smart Con­trols but­ton near the top left of the win­dow to see con­trols for the ef­fects and in­stru­ments in the se­lected track. Use the level faders on a track to change its vol­ume and re­fine the mix of your tracks.

Add an in­stru­ment

Now choose the in­stru­ment track – we’ve picked an elec­tric pi­ano, but you can use any you like from the li­brary on the left. Pick Win­dow > Show Mu­si­cal Typ­ing to see how to play the in­stru­ment us­ing your Mac’s key­board.

Build more parts

Keep adding loops, record­ings, and in­stru­ment parts un­til you are happy. The clips on the time­line can be cut, moved, or deleted to help build your ar­range­ment. Se­lect a track then a new in­stru­ment to try dif­fer­ent sounds.

Share or ex­port

When you’re fin­ished, choose an item from the Share menu. You can send your music to iTunes, Sound­Cloud, email or AirDrop it, or ex­port a file. Ex­port as high qual­ity AAC for a smaller file, or AIFF for an un­com­pressed file.

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