• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL

Chapter 26. Software Instruments (MIDI) > How to Feed a Hungry GarageBand

26.1. How to Feed a Hungry GarageBand

To record a musical performance in this way, you need some way to feed GarageBand a stream of live musical data. You can do so in any of several ways:

  • Use the onscreen, mouse-clicky keyboard. That is, click the keys of GarageBand's own, built-in, onscreen piano keyboard. Until Apple invents a 10-button mouse, however, this onscreen keyboard limits you to playing only one note at a time. Unfortunately, it's very clunky; it's like playing a piano with a bar of soap.

    But it's free, it's built-in, and it's handy for inputting the occasional slow solo line or very brief musical part.

  • Use your Mac's alphabet keyboard. A great new feature of GarageBand 2 turns your regular typing keyboard into a musical keyboard. You don't get much expressive capability, since pressing the letter keys harder or softer doesn't produce any difference in sound. Still, at least you can play chords this way, and you can use your fingers instead of the mouse.

  • Connect a MIDI controller. MIDI (pronounced "middy"), you may recall from Chapter 23, stands for musical instrument digital interface. It's an electronic language that lets musical equipment and computers communicate over a cable.

    Because your Mac is perfectly capable of playing any of hundreds of musical-instrument sounds (like the ones built into GarageBand), you don't really need an electronic keyboard that can produce sounds. All you really need is one that can trigger them.

    That's the point of a MIDI controller; it looks and feels like a synthesizer keyboard, but produces no sounds of its own. It makes music only when it's plugged into, for example, a Mac running GarageBand.

    Apple sells (or, rather, resells) a MIDI controller for $100 called the M-Audio Keystation 49e. If you can live with 49 keys, it's a very nice keyboard. It draws its power directly from your USB jack, so you don't need a power adapter, and it's velocity-sensitive, which means that its keys are touch-sensitive. The harder you play, the louder the piano sound, for example.

  • Connect a MIDI synthesizer. If you already own a MIDI synth—an electronic keyboard that provides an assortment of sounds and has MIDI connectors on the back—there's no point in buying a MIDI controller. You can connect the keyboard directly to your Mac and use it the same way, and simply ignore the keyboard's own sound banks.

    Some synthesizers can connect straight to your Mac with a USB cable. Most, however, require a MIDI interface, a box with nickel-sized MIDI In and Out connectors on one side, and a USB cable for your Mac on the other.



Not a subscriber?

Start A Free Trial

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint