How to Add Loop Regions in GarageBand in iLife ’11

1 of 8 in Series: The Essentials of Mixing and Editing in GarageBand

In iLife '11's GarageBand, you can create a track for one or more loop regions by dragging a loop into an empty space on the timeline. Follow these steps to repeat a track in a loop sequence:

  1. Select a loop in the GarageBand Loop Browser.

  2. Turn on the Snap to Grid feature (if it isn’t already on) by choosing Control→Snap to Grid.

    You know whether the Snap to Grid feature is active because a check mark appears next to it on the Control menu. Though you don’t have to use the Snap to Grid feature, it makes it easier to line up regions in the tracks.

  3. Drag the loop to an empty space below the timeline beat ruler.

    As you drag, you may notice that a vertical line appears and lines up the loop with the beat. The loop snaps to different points in the timeline — points defined by the tempo and time signature (the beat) — if you have the Snap to Grid feature turned on.

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You can also create a track first. Choose a Software Instrument or Real Instrument for the track, and then drag a loop to the track. This method is useful if you already have in mind an instrument sound that’s different from the sound used for the loop.

After you drag a loop to a track, the loop creates a region in the track showing a waveform for a Real Instrument, or a set of dashes that look like notes for a Software Instrument (unless no notes are played, in which case the region is gray). You can drag a Real Instrument loop into a Real Instrument track, and drag a Software Instrument loop into a Software Instrument track.

Here are the differences between the types of loops:

  • Real Instrument: Although this type of loop is recorded with live instruments in a specific tempo, time signature, and key, the loops are somewhat elastic — you can change the tempo and transpose them into different keys, with mixed results. You can also copy and paste waveform information in the Track Editor, but you can’t change individual notes. Neither can you change the instrument itself, as you can with Software Instrument loops.

  • Software Instrument: You can change the tempo and key of this type of loop with no loss in quality. You can even change the type of instrument — change a guitar loop into a drum loop by simply dragging the guitar loop to a track defined as a drum track. Software Instrument loops can also be edited in the Track Editor in detail — you can change the notes, their placement in time, and other attributes.

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The Essentials of Mixing and Editing in GarageBand

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