GarageBand: Writers Workhorse

Years ago I went over to a friend’s house, and when I arrived, his wife enthused: “Pablo has done a CD of his new songs!” Huh? I knew he was a talented painter, but didn’t think he played any instruments. That was still true. So how did he do it?

He used GarageBand.
Pablo was happy to show me how it worked. You had tons of pre-recorded MIDI loops, and you just “mixed and matched” them together. Voila! Now non-musicians could be composers.

At first I messed around with it for a while on my own, but was quickly frustrated. Accustomed to writing tunes from scratch, I kept trying to compose songs the way I was used to. GarageBand didn’t play that. However, that was then. This is now.

GarageBand 2010

Currently, GarageBand is a workable composition and recording tool, that sacrifices some of the flexibility and customization of a ProTools or Cubase system for speed and ease of use.

Just ask Patrick Stump, previously of Fall Out Boy, who has been doing all of his writing — and much pre-production — with his Mac Laptop and GarageBand.

“The beauty of GarageBand is that it’s only limited by what you want to do with it,” he says. “Ultimately, you can do anything. It’s a sequencer and you can record and edit audio. And it runs on my laptop. I’ve composed and recorded on the plane, on the bullet train in Japan. It’s made me so much more prolific because I don’t have to think about where and when I can record or write music. I can do it anywhere.”

Using the pok in conjuction with GarageBand

Designed as it is for the solo musician/writer, GarageBand benefits especially from the addition of the pok remote DAW footswitch. Want to leave your computer where it’s comfortable to work on — and hooked up to external speakers — while you record your guitar track in the awesome reverb created by your bathroom? No problem.

Maybe you’ve improvised a vocal booth in your bedroom with your duvet cover and a couple of mic stands. You can quickly hunt around for the sweet spot while you record several takes — controlling the start, stop, rewind and other features with your foot, while you concentrate on your performance.

When it comes to making recording faster and easier, the pok is a great adjunct to GarageBand. But it’s effective for live performances, as well. Use it to start songs, scroll between different files, and even for live composition, where you create and then manipulate tracks.

Anything your keyboard can do, the pok can do as well. And it can do it from up to 100 feet away, with no wires whatsoever. Talk about convenient . . .