Saturday, November 10, 2012

Post-workshop notes: Creating Digital Music 101: GarageBand

[Sat, 10 Nov 2012]

Nine people turned up (there was a cap of 12; heard it rained heavily so maybe some opted to stay home?)

Nine was a nice number. I sensed the average age was around late 20s to early thirties. Heh, it's nice to know as an 'uncle' in my 40s, I'm teaching the young'uns something.

What the session covered:

  • Hour 1: Getting to know GB; learning the basics
  • Hour 2: Composing your own track/ Some ‘audio production’ tips
  • Hour 3: Continue + Showcase

Demo of a track composed in GB.

Musical concepts - “Bars”, “patterns”, “Even counts”
Layering concept - like photoshop

Pair up - check with a “musical buddy for the day”

Opening a new GB project (file names, tempo)

The GB environment and controls
File menu, add tracks, LCD, Loops, Instruments
Shortcut Keys - Copy, Paste, Undo, Redo, Zoom in/ Out

Preferences panel

Using loops to create music - 20mins
Change tempo
Drag loops into workspace
Extend loops
Edit - Split/ cut/ copy

Instruments - 20mins
Experiment with different instruments
Musical Typing
Changing MIDI notes

Individual Track controls

Effects (“i” Edit)

Audio Production tweaks



Before we started, I asked what were they wanted to take away from this session. Most had their Macs for a while but never quite learned how to use GarageBand.

About a third played some form of instruments. Most were piano players (interesting!)

Going round I saw everyone actively building their tracks.

What I tried not to do was overwhelm them by whacking all I knew from the past seven years and seven albums, since I picked up a Mac (woah, seven already?)

I let each participant copy a GarageBand sampler (composed the day earlier) and let them attempt a remix. The sampler (aptly titled TenElevenTwelve) sounds like this:

They didn't seem overwhelmed. Plenty of time to play around. Nice arranges tracks too; these folks have good musical timing.

Three hours was a good duration. Class size of ten was excellent; probably 20 would be fine with an assistant.

One tech problems: The rental MacBook didnt have the latest GarageBand version. Wasnt able to drag and drop loops. Luckily while the software update was in progress, one participant readily volunteered his Mac until the update was completed.

Planned for everything (extra power extensions, making sure we nailed down the screen resolution; a 'live' dry run with my colleagues before this public session) except that one. Must make mental note.

When I was mulling over the session on the train, I asked myself why I liked to share and teach.

On one hand, it means putting myself in the firing line, where participants have a range of expectations. Even of the session is a free one, I don't believe it's an excuse to waste people's time.

On the other, there's something immensely satisfying in seeing people give that nod of understanding, or outwardly thanking for having gained insights.

I wonder if it's an affirmation of my own self worth. Maybe, though I can find other ways to satisfy my ego.

Oh, I ended up conducting this workshop because the Public Library was running a series of Arts related programmes. Mooted the idea of a digital music workshop to a colleague, she liked it, and I volunteered to run it.

Coincidentally it was held on a 10.11.12

Hmm, if nine people turned up, that meant


Creating digital music 101 - using GarageBand