GarageBand '11 offers a visual depiction of a song using a timeline. When you drag a loop to the timeline, or record into a track, iLife's GarageBand represents the music with a region in the timeline showing graphically what the sound looks like:

  • Real Instrument regions: Loops are blue regions showing waveforms, and recordings are red waveforms while recording, and then purple waveforms after you finish recording.

  • Software Instrument regions: Both recordings and loops are green regions showing dashes on a musical scale. (Dashes with higher pitch are in the upper part of the region, and dashes with lower pitch are in the lower part.)

As building blocks for your song, regions help you define pieces of music that may change, depending on the arrangement. You might, for example, record into a separate Software Instrument track a guitar part that accompanies a chorus and then copy the region of that single performance to the same places in the timeline as each chorus in the song — so that you need to perform the guitar part only once.

Changing the timeline grid in GarageBand

The timeline beat ruler shows the divisions of time in either beats and measures or minutes and seconds — depending on whether you choose Time or Measures in the LCD at the bottom of the GarageBand window.

You can use the beat ruler to align musical regions precisely. The timeline offers a grid to snap these segments into place. To turn on the grid, choose Control→Snap to Grid.

You can also set the grid to different musical note values, such as quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, 30-second notes, quarter note triplets, and eighth note triplets. To set the grid to a different note value, click the grid button in the upper right corner of the timeline and then choose a note value from the menu. You can set the grid to Automatic so that it becomes more precise as you zoom in or out using the timeline zoom slider under the track names.


Moving and resizing regions in the GarageBand timeline

The reason that these pieces of music are organized into regions is so that you can move them easily within tracks. You can even drag a region from one track to another (up or down), if you want the region to take on the characteristics (sounds and effects) of the destination track. When dragging regions, here’s what you need to know:

  • Real Instrument regions can be moved only to other Real Instrument tracks, and Software Instrument regions can be moved only to other Software Instrument tracks.

  • When you drag a region over another region in the same time slot, the region underneath is shortened to the edge of the region you’re dragging over it. If you completely cover a region with another region, the region underneath is deleted.

You also resize regions, making them shorter or longer, as described here:

  • You can shorten a region so that only the visible part of the region plays.

  • You can also lengthen a Software Instrument region, adding silence — but only to Software Instrument regions; Real Instrument regions can only be shortened or returned to their original lengths.

  • To resize a region, move the pointer over the lower half of either the right or left edge of the region — the pointer changes to the resize pointer (two arrows pointing sideways). You can then drag the edge of the region to shorten or lengthen it.