Keith White May 21, 2012
For those new to the iOS version of GarageBand here’s the story so far: GarageBand is an incredibly powerful app which enables any iOS user to play a variety of touch-driven instruments – keyboards, guitars, drums and basses. There are also versions of these called Smart Instruments which do a lot of the playing for you.
Plug in an electric guitar through an iRig or similar interface and you have access to a wide range (32) of classic amplifiers – ranging through clean to distorted to psychedelic.
These specialised amp sounds can be augmented by choosing from 12 stompbox (foot pedal) effects, including compressor, delay, phaser, flanger, overdrive and chorus. And, like the amps, they have all the adjustable controls of their real-world cousins. There’s also a large graphic guitar tuner.
To build your arrangement you can use the built-in mic to record voice or acoustic instruments, record Touch/ Smart instrument tracks or choose from a library of built-in loops. With the new Track Merge you can combine tracks to free up space for additional tracks.
So what else is new in the latest version (1.2)? Smart Strings now gives you access to an entire string orchestra with amazingly rich violins, violas, cellos and basses.
Eight common chords are presented on touch bars. Swipe for a sustained note; touch for pizzicato. The Chord Editor allows you to change the key and variation of any chord.
Yes, you can have G minor 11th if you really want to.
New Smart Bass instruments help you produce classic and contemporary bass lines from a range of stringed bass and synth sounds. All very real.
The new Note Editor gives you control over any touch instrument recording. You can delete, add, move and copy individual notes or groups of notes in a standard MIDI piano roll window. With Jam Session you can play or record live with up to three other musicians. Use iCloud to sync your GB songs across all your iOS devices. Direct access to Facebook, YouTube and SoundCloud is built in.
All iPad models can handle Jam Session and iCloud. On the smaller devices, you’ll need an iPhone 4 or later or a 4th generation iPod touch. The rest of GB 1.2 is compatible a generation further back as long as you’re running iOS 5.0 or later.
In taking GarageBand 1.2 for a test drive I used a new iPad desktop stand – the iKlip Studio from IK Multimedia, which specialises in software and a variety of useful add-ons for musicians.
Macworld Australia’s buying advice.
GB iOS 1.2 is a significant upgrade to an already impressive app. You have to wonder what Apple will add next. The wishlisters are already clamouring at the gates of Cupertino for brass and woodwind to round out the orchestra.
Developer: Apple Inc.
Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad.Requires iOS 5.0 or later.
Age Rating: 4+