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Lesson 4. Working with Real Instruments > Recording and Saving a Real Instrumen...

Recording and Saving a Real Instrument Part

The next series of exercises will walk you through some different techniques for recording a Real Instrument part.

Note

The exercises in this lesson are composed of Real Instrument parts that were recorded onto a single Real Instrument track and did not require an audio interface. You can apply these same techniques to multitrack recording.


Recording Long vs. Short Regions

Before you start recording, there are some recording techniques to consider. Should you record the entire song in one take, or break the instrument part into smaller pieces? I think the answer depends on the musician. If there is a song that you have played so many times you don’t even have to think to play it, feel free to record it in one long and perfect take. Some musicians record multiple takes of a whole song, then edit together the best parts from each take into a master track that becomes the final song. If playing the entire song flawlessly is unlikely, it is very easy to record smaller sections, then put them all together in the Timeline. Most songs in the world of music recording are recorded in smaller pieces, then arranged together to form the final master track. You can also record punch-ins to record over a specific part of a song if necessary.

Let’s start with the basics—recording a short musical part, also known as a riff.

Note

The following recording exercise uses a guitar as an example. However, you are welcome to record whatever instrument you have available.


Setting Up Your Instrument

Take a moment to set-up your guitar, keyboard, bass, microphone, or whatever instrument you want to use for the recording exercise. If you don’t have an instrument and your computer has a built-in microphone, you can record finger snaps, or you can whistle. If you don’t have an instrument or a microphone, read through the following steps anyway to get a sense of how recording a Real Instrument works.

If you do have an instrument, play a riff on it now. Do you hear a delay between when you play and when you hear the sound? Depending on the audio hardware and computer you are using, there may be a slight delay when playing and recording Real Instruments. It takes a short amount of time for the Real Instrument input to reach the computer’s input port and be processed. This delay is referred to as latency. You may not be able to eliminate latency completely, but you can reduce the amount of latency in the GarageBand Preferences. Let’s take a look at the Preferences setting to reduce latency.

1.
Choose GarageBand > Preferences to open the General Preferences window.

2.
Click the Audio/MIDI Interfaces tab at the top of the window to open the Audio/MIDI interfaces pane.

3.
Locate the “Optimize for” section and click the “Minimum delay when playing instruments live” button if you are experiencing latency delays when you play your instrument.

Selecting “Minimum delay when playing instruments live” will reduce latency by using more of the computer’s processing power to process the audio input signal faster. However, this can affect performance on slower computers. If you don’t have a latency issues or if you’re running a slower computer, you may wish to change the setting to “Maximum number of simultaneous tracks.” For more information, see Lesson 9.

4.
Click the General tab at the top of the window to return to the General Preferences pane.

5.
Locate the Metronome controls and choose “During playback and recording,” if it’s not already selected.

6.
Close the General Preferences window.

Recording a Short Take

Since the track you are about to record has no effects applied to it, the sound of whatever instrument you record will not be altered. You will learn to add effects to the tracks in the next exercise.

1.
Make sure the No Effects track header is active by selecting it.

2.
Press the spacebar to start the metronome and playback of the empty track in the Timeline. If you do not hear the metronome, press Cmd-U to turn it on.

Note

You can only hear the metronome if the playhead is moving—that is, only while you are playing a song in the Timeline or while you are recording. If you turn on the Count In feature in the Control menu, GarageBand will count in the first measure (four clicks) before the playhead moves and recording begins.

3.
Play a simple musical riff.

4.
Practice a few times until you’re ready to record.

Tip

The keyboard shortcut to start recording is the R key. This is often easier than using the mouse to click the Record button in the transport controls—especially if you’re holding a guitar or another instrument.

5.
Choose Control > Count In to turn on the Count In feature.

GarageBand will count in the first 4 beats before recording begins.

6.
Press R or click the red Record button to record your musical riff.

7.
Press the spacebar to stop recording when you’re finished.

8.
Press Cmd-S to save your project.

That’s it! You’ve recorded an instrument part into GarageBand.

Project Tasks

Now that you’ve successfully recorded one part, why not try another? Create a new track in the same project and record another part to go along with the first piece you recorded.

1.
Click the New Track button to create a new Real Instrument track.

2.
Select the instrument you wish to record, and choose No Effects for the track.

3.
Mute the top track in the Timeline if you don’t want to play along with it.

4.
Select the new track, and make sure the Record Enable button is on for that track. Then record the second musical part.

5.
Listen to your new recording.

6.
Press Cmd-S to save your work when you are finished.

Recording a Long Take

There is nothing wrong with recording the entire song—or even a long part of the song, such as the first half—in one take. If you can play it, by all means record it.

This method is also fantastic for recording song ideas. If you have a melody, lyrics, or instrumental parts floating around in your head, I strongly encourage you to sit down right away and record it. Who cares if it’s a rough draft and full of mistakes? The important thing is to document it so you won’t forget the subtle creative nuances of the idea while it’s fresh. The human brain isn’t the most reliable storage medium. Instead of carrying 50 songs around in your head, trying to remember all of them, commit them to your computer instead. You can always delete them, or finish them later.

Another thing to remember about recording one long take is that you can always punch in and record over, or re-record any mistakes you make along the way.

Recording one long take is simple. You do everything the same way as you would when recording a short take, only you play longer.

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