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Track Tempo in GarageBand 2

Separating instrument tempo from song tempo By Dave Nagel
Here's a handy tip for those of you working with MIDI instruments in Apple's GarageBand 2. What happens if you want to retime your song while leaving a particular track playing at the speed at which it was originally created? If you change the tempo of your song, your MIDI track's tempo changes along with it. Here's a workaround for keeping a MIDI track's tempo separate from the overall song's.

For this example, we'll say that we've created a MIDI bass line at a tempo of 120. But we've decided that at this tempo, none of the Apple drum loops really match our vision of how this song should sound. So we want to cut the song's tempo in half (to create slower-playing drums), while keeping the MIDI bass line running at its original tempo.

The answer? Convert it to a loop.

Now, converting it to a loop isn't the only solution. You could also solo the MIDI track, export it to iTunes and then drag it back into the mixer window. But the loop method has at least three advantages of this. The first is that it's less clumsy. And the second is that the track remains a fully editable MIDI track because you're not committing it to an AIFF file, as happens when you export to iTunes. And the third advantage we'll get to below.

Side Note: We've just added a brand new GarageBand forum at the DMN Forums! If you have any questions about this tutorial or other GarageBand issues, be sure to stop by and post your question or comment! You can find it by clicking here.

So, to begin, here's a basic GarageBand project showing my MIDI bass line.

The first step in this process is to select the region you wish to convert to a loop. Make certain that no other regions are selected. Then choose Edit > Add to Loop Library. If this option is not available, your region may be too large, and you'll have to split it into smaller units. If this is the case, you'll need to repeat this process for each segment you create.

When you've applied the "Add to Loop Library" command, a dialog box will appear, allowing you to adjust the settings for the loop. In the dialog, give the loop a recognizable name, and set its descriptors. Then make sure you select the radio box labeled "One-Shot."

When you're done, click the "Create" button, and GarageBand will go through the process of creating a mixdown of the track. (Don't worry; the MIDI track will remain editable.)

Now open up the Loop Browser by clicking the eyeball icon toward the bottom of the interface. You new loop will be automatically selected for you.

Now, in order to make this a tempo-independent track in actual use, you'll need to add a new "real instrument" track to your project. Just use the basic "No Effects" track (Track > New Basic Track).

Then drag your loop into this new track.

Note that a tempo-independent loop is colored orange when you drag it into a real instrument track.

Now I can change the tempo of my composition to half its original tempo, and you'll see that while other elements in the project appear to remain as they were, the tempo-independent loop seems to shrink down. This is owing to the fact that it's remaining at its original tempo, while the rest of the track is slowing down to half its original tempo.

Now, I mentioned that there's a third advantage to using this technique as opposed to exporting a track to iTunes. And that is that even though you've created a one-shot, tempo-independent loop, you can still apply your MIDI loop you your project and constrain it to the tempo of this song (this in case you decide later that you do, in fact, want to change the speed of the MIDI element or make changes to MIDI events).

To do this, you don't have to do anything special. Just skip the part about adding a real instrument track. Drag your loop into an existing software instrument track, or simply drag it into the main interface, and a new software instrument track will be created for you on the fly, no extra steps required.

In the screen shot below you see the original MIDI track on top; the tempo-independent loop in the middle (orange); and the fully editable loop constrained to the project's tempo at the bottom.

Hey, and don't forget to check out our brand new GarageBand forum at DMNForums.com. You can find it by clicking here. Post any questions, comments, wishlists or anything else on your mind having to do with GragaBand!

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Related Keywords:garageband, tempo, midi, apple loops, tempo, track speed, change track tempo


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