Editing iPad Garageband songs on Mac

The Mac Garageband update to enable iPad Garageband to be edited is available now. This is great news, but the whole sync-through-iTunes nonsense makes it far more complicated than it needs to be. Here’s how you do it:

1. Send your iPad song to iTunes

2. Choose “Garageband” as the format to send to iTunes

3. Connect the iPad to the Mac and open iTunes

4. In the Apps tab, scroll down to the file sharing section, choose the song you want to copy to the Mac, and click “Save to…”

5. Go to wherever you saved the song and open it. Garageband will start. The first time you do it, it will download another big update

That’s it! The conversion seems pretty good, although I’ve only tested it on a fairly simple so far.

From what I can see, it insists on you saving a copy of the song when you open it, so presumably it’s translating the formats in some way. I haven’t worked out what this is all about yet.

MorphWiz

MorphWiz is exactly what I feel an iPad instrument should be – something that uses the touchscreen as a strength, rather than attempt to compensate for it in the emulation of a “real” instrument.

It’s basically a synthesiser, with the pitch of the note changing as you move from left to right across the screen, and the timbre changing as you move up and down the screen. Sliding your finger around can create some very nice note bending effects, although there is a danger of always sounding like the incidental music from a 1980s episode of Doctor Who or Blake’s 7.

It costs £6/$10, a price which reflects that it is definitely more than a toy. You can use this as a serious instrument.

Here’s a video of the the inventor, Jordan Rudess playing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” on it.

My attempt at playing “Wild Mountain Thyme” on it in the next post.

Verdict: I love it, even if I don’t completely understand it yet.

My first iPad Garageband tune

My first iPad Garageband tune. It’s a rather silly little tune, called “Squeak Squeak Kaboom” but was created entirely in Garageband.
I sampled my children saying “squeak” and “kaboom” and then played them back with the keyboard. The drums are Garageband “smart drums”, and the acoustic guitar is one of the autoplay settings. The electric guitar melody was me playing the “roots rock” on-screen guitar.
What I found amazing about this is that the basic loop really only took us 5-10 minutes to record all the parts. It took me a little longer to work out how to create the arrangement of sections.
It also highlights some of the limitations of Garageband on the iPad:
  • one of the “kabooms” is a bit late, and I couldn’t edit the recording to move it
  • some of the “squeaks” are bit quiet
  • no way of fading the track out at the end
(Update – these limitation have now been removed in a Garageband update. See this post.)

Garageband

There really is only one place to start any iPad music blog these days – Garageband. When Apple announced the iPad 2 with Garageband and iMovie I spent the next hour frantically trying to discovered whether Garageband would work on my original iPad. I didn’t care about cameras, smart covers or any of that stuff – but Garageband was something I had wanted on my iPad since I bought it.

The first two things that strike you about it are:

  • just how much has been crammed into a £3/$5 app
  • how easy it is to get started

As I’ve said before, I am not a big fan of guitar/keyboard apps on the iPad, but the Garageband instruments aren’t bad. The keyboard is big enough to be playable, and I do rather like the string-bending on the guitar. The sounds are pretty good too.

I like the way Garageband goes about song construction in a way that works on the small screen. You work on a section of the song at a time. Not great, perhaps, if you want to play your whole song in one take, but for sketching out ideas or playing around (which is what I guess most people will use it for) it works well.

It is, of course, not without its frustrations. My chief annoyances are:

  • you can’t play in anything other than 4/4 time
  • copying your song to Garageband on the Mac doesn’t work yet (I hear that this needs a software update that’s not available yet)
  • you can’t edit anything you’ve recorded

However, two very nice surprises I have discovered:

  • My Blue Snowball mic works perfectly when plugged into the USB camera connection kit. Much has been written about how iOS 4 reduced the current available to USB devices, but the Snowball still works.
  • So does my Yamaha Clavinova – obviously that has its own power supply, but I was surprised to find Garageband supported Midi keyboards.See the next post for my first Garageband recording.

See the next post for my first Garageband recording.

About this blog

A lot has been written about the potential of the iPad for creating and recording music. I agree with most of that, and there’s no point repeating it all here. This blog is a collection of news, reviews and opinions about some of the many music apps now available for the iPad.

It seems that there are two main classes of people interested in music making on the iPad.

  • professional/semi-professional musicians looking for performance-quality apps
  • amateurs with little or no previous musical experience who just want to have a bit of fun with their iPad

I’m somewhere between the two – I’m professional technologist, and amateur musician. My house is littered with “real” instruments, of which my favourites are my three acoustic and electric Irish bouzoukis. So hopefully I can provide a balance between the two extremes of iPad musician.

I have to admit straight away, that I’m not especially keen on the recreation of real instruments on the iPad. Playing a piano or guitar on a touchscreen is fun for a few moments (maybe longer if you’ve never played the real thing), but ultimately a bit of a toy. Don’t get me wrong, I love toys, but that means I know I toy when I see one. So yes, I will write about some of these, but my main interests fall into two categories:

  • apps to help recording, practicing and refining musicals
  • apps which turn the iPad into innovative new instruments, playing to its strength by using the touch screen as a new way to play music, rather than a poor substitute for a keyboard or fretboard.