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Chapter 4. Working With Loops > Adding More Loops to GarageBand

Adding More Loops to GarageBand

In large part due to the popularity of GarageBand, the supply of Apple Loops is growing rapidly. GarageBand can also use any loops made for Soundtrack (which also uses the Apple Loop format). You can add individual loop files to GarageBand or a whole folder full at once. A new Preference setting in GarageBand 2 allows you to choose whether newly added loops are available to all users of your machine or only to the user who added them.

To set access permissions for user-installed loops

Choose GarageBand > Preferences (Command-,) and click the Export tab (Figure 4.55).

Figure 4.55. Use this dialog to specify who gets to use your loops.

In the My Apple Loops area of the dialog, choose one of the following:

  • Available to [user name] Only.

    This option stores user-installed loops in ~/Library/Audio/Apple Loops/User Loops. These loops will be available only to the user who was logged into the Mac at the time the loops were installed. This is GarageBand's default setting.

  • Share with All Users on This Mac.

    If this option is selected, user-installed loops will be placed in /Library/Audio/Apple Loops/User Loops. This collection of loops will be available to any user of your Macintosh.

To add Apple Loops to GarageBand:

Make sure that the Finder icon for the loop file (or folder of loops) is visible.

Drag the file (or folder) icon into the loop browser (Figure 4.56).

Figure 4.56. Drag the loop file's icon into the loop browser.

Depending on the location of your loops, one of two dialogs will open.

Do one of the following:

  • If your loops are already stored on the partition where GarageBand is installed, the Adding Loops to the Loop Browser dialog will appear (Figure 4.57); choose Move to Loops Folder (or press Return) to move the files into GarageBand's loop library, choose Current Location to leave the loop files where they are but place an alias to them in the loop library, or choose Cancel to do nothing.

    Figure 4.57. If adding loops from GarageBand's partition, choose whether to move the loops or keep them where they are.

  • If your loops are on a different partition from GarageBand, the Adding Loops from Another Disk or Partition dialog will appear (Figure 4.58); choose Copy to Loops Folder to make copies of the loops in the loop library but leave the originals where they are, choose Current Location to leave the loop files where they are but place an alias to them in the loop library, or choose Cancel to do nothing.

    Figure 4.58. If adding loops from another partition, choose whether to copy the loops into the library or keep them in their current location.

Depending on your choice in the preceding dialog, GarageBand will add the loops to the Apple Loops library and incorporate the information about the loops in the index (Figure 4.59).

Figure 4.59. GarageBand may take several minutes to finish the process of copying and indexing the added loops.

Using Non-Apple Loops in GarageBand

Apple's marketing materials and the GarageBand 2 documentation both insist that the program now accepts loops in ACID format. This is the granddaddy of loop formats, originally devised for a Windows-only loop-composition program: ACID Pro (now owned by Sony). Like Apple Loops, ACID loops support extensive metadata, so they can easily be categorized by key, tempo, mood, instrument, and so on.

However, I have not yet been able to import an ACID loop into GarageBand and have it appear in the loop browser. This seems to be a feature that is not quite ready for prime time. While we wait for Apple to fix this problem, there is a workaround:

Drag the ACID loop from the Finder to the GarageBand timeline (either to a Real Instrument track or to a trackless part of the timeline) and release the mouse button (this is the standard procedure for importing an audio file into a GarageBand song, which will be described in Chapter 13).

The ACID loop will become an ordinary Real Instrument region.

With the newly imported region still selected, choose Edit > Add to Loop Library and follow the procedure outlined in “To create an Apple Loop” later in this chapter.

You'll have better luck with this process if you set the song to the same tempo as the ACID loop before choosing the Add to Loop Library command. Many times, the filename of a loop contains its original tempo (in beats per minute). If you don't know the original tempo of the loop, adjust the tempo of your song until the imported loop takes up exactly an integral number of measures—that is, it starts on the downbeat of a measure and ends precisely at the downbeat of another measure.

Another method for converting ACID loops to Apple Loops is to use the Soundtrack Loop Utility (see the sidebar “Industrial-Strength Loop Creation” later in this chapter).

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