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Chapter 4. Working With Loops > Creating Your Own Loops

Creating Your Own Loops

The original version of GarageBand didn't include any facility for creating loops. If you weren't satisfied with the loops provided, you were pretty much left to the mercy of third-party vendors. You did have the option of cooking up some loops of your own, but only if you were willing to struggle with the complexities of the Soundtrack Loop Utility (see the sidebar “Industrial-Strength Loop Creation” later in this chapter).

Happily, GarageBand 2 provides a basic tool for converting just about any recording to an Apple Loop: the Add to Loop Library command.

To create an Apple Loop

Select the region in your song that you wish to convert to a loop (Figure 4.60).

Figure 4.60. This region will be turned into a loop.

Do one of the following:

  • Choose Edit > Add to Loop Library.

  • Drag the region to the loop browser and release the mouse button (Figure 4.61).

    Figure 4.61. Dragging a Real Instrument region to the loop browser.

The Add Loop dialog slides down from the main window's title bar (Figure 4.62).

Figure 4.62. The Add Loop dialog.

In the Name field, type a name for the loop. By default the loop takes the name of the region from which it was made.

Choose a type for the loop:

  • Choose Loop to create an Apple Loop whose speed will expand and contract along with the song's tempo.

  • Choose One-shot for sounds that don't need to match a song's tempo, like sound effects.

Note that if the selected region is not an integral number of measures long, these choices will be dimmed, and One-shot will be selected automatically.

From the Scale pop-up menu, choose Major or Minor if the loop clearly uses one of those scales. Otherwise, choose one of the other options (Figure 4.63).

Figure 4.63. Choose the scale that most closely matches the loop.

From the Genre pop-up menu, choose the term that best describes the style of the loop (Figure 4.64).

Figure 4.64. Choose the genre that fits the loop best.

In the Instrument Descriptors area, choose a category from the list on the left; then choose a specific instrument from the list on the right (Figure 4.65).

Figure 4.65. Match an instrument to the loop.

The information from the original region is selected by default.

In the Mood Descriptors area, click one or more buttons that describe the emotional character of the loop (Figure 4.66).

Figure 4.66. Characterize the overall feeling of the loop by assigning mood descriptors.

These buttons are equivalent to the keywords used to sort loops in the loop browser.

Note that you can click only one button of each pair. If you click Single, for example, and then click Ensemble, the Single button will be deselected.

Click Create or press Return.

If you happen to give your new loop the same name as an existing loop, you'll be presented with the Loop Name Already Exists dialog (Figure 4.67). Do one of the following:

  • Click Do Not Add This Loop to cancel the loop creation.

  • Click Add Loop Using a New Name to add the loop to your library. A numeral will be added to the end of the loop's name to distinguish it from the original loop with the same name.

  • Click Replace Original with New Loop (or press Return) to delete the pre-existing loop with the same name and save the new loop to your library.

Figure 4.67. The Loop Name Already Exists dialog.

Depending on your selection, the loop is added to your loop library.

Industrial-Strength Loop Creation

If you've tried GarageBand's built-in loop-creation tool, but you feel like you need more control over the process, you can use the same program the big kids use: Apple's Soundtrack Loop Utility (SLU) (Figure 4.68). This application will convert any AIFF or WAV file to an Apple Loop. The SLU is bundled with the Soundtrack application, but if you don't own that program, you can get the SLU from Apple free of charge. Download the Apple Loops SDK from ftp://ftp.apple.com/developer/Development_Kits/.

Figure 4.68. The main interface for Apple's Soundtrack Loop Utility.

Run the installer contained in the downloaded file, and it will put the Soundtrack Loop Utility in your /Applications/Utilities folder. The installer will also place some thorough documentation in /Developer/Apple Loops SDK.

The SLU has loads more bells and whistles than the Add Loop dialog in GarageBand— meaning that learning to use it will require a correspondingly greater investment of time and energy. You'll find an excellent tutorial on using the Soundtrack Loop Utility at maczealots.com/tutorials/loops/.

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