- About Future
- Digital Future
- Cookies Policy
- Terms & Conditions
- Investor Relations
- Contact Future
Even with the hundreds of samples available in GarageBand, the app has always suffered from a "That sounds like you made it in GarageBand" syndrome. Despite the variety of built-in loops and tracks, people still recognize certain bass lines and drum loops. It's a sure sign that GarageBand has become a go-to app among Mac users, but it also takes some of the fun out of creating music using the available samples. You could purchase a MIDI keyboard or plug a guitar into GarageBand and strum or plunk out your own sound samples, but then you would have to learn how to play those instruments.
Guitar Experience gives you some kickin’ amps and stomp boxes to work with.
Apple has finally recognized the hurdle GarageBand presents for those who want to make music but don't know how to play an instrument. By bundling lessons in GarageBand, Apple is shooting waaay past Rock Band and Guitar Hero's goal to give users the chance to realize their rock 'n' roll fantasies. Not only can you learn to play an instrument in GarageBand '09, you can learn from actual rock stars.
GarageBand launches with a splash screen showing you the options available within the application. Usually, we find splash screens that mirror what can be achieved from the menubar annoying. In this case, it's a welcome sight. Each feature opens a project timeline tailored to that task. It takes the guesswork out of getting a project set up correctly for an iPhone ringtone or composing a song on a MIDI keyboard.
After launching a project you'll notice some minor, but welcome tweaks to the interface. The Media Browser pane and Loops pane feel cleaner and more focused. But the real change is the Track Info pane. Visual representations of the chosen instrument tracks you're adjusting don't just look cool, they can actually help you in your composition. If you've ever seen a live performance with an instrument, and you couldn't figure out how to re-create the sound because you were unsure what type of guitar or piano you saw, you can cycle through various guitars and piano types until you see something that jogs your memory. With its help, you can recreate the hollow body sound of the Gibson Casino you saw John Lennon play. If you've been plugging your guitar into one of those tiny practice amps because you can't afford a nice tube amp or gigantic half stack, GarageBand should be on your list of must-haves after picks and cables. The new Guitar Experience puts five amps and 10 stomp boxes at your disposal. Clicking on the amps gives you the knob display so you can tweak your sound just as you would if you actually had the amp in front of you. As you cycle through the amps, your knob settings stay consistent and the amps look similar to those on amps you'd find in your local guitar shop. Just don't go looking for the Marshall logo on anything. All the amps are labeled with GarageBand badges.
Stomp boxes work in nearly the same fashion, but instead of cycling through the available boxes, you drag and drop up to five stomp boxes onto your rig. And, like the amps, you can adjust the knobs as if you were actually there. Unfortunately, turning the stomp boxes on and off is a mouse-click affair. This will certainly cramp your style if you try to use GarageBand's electric guitar feature to play live. Unless of course, you want to toss your mouse on the ground and stomp on it.
GarageBand’s amp controls are very close to the real thing.
All of those amps and stomp boxes don't mean much unless they sound like the genuine article. Good thing Apple took the time to make sure a tube amp sounds like a tube amp and a fuzz pedal sounds like a fuzz pedal. Beginners and guitar gods should be happy with the quality of the amp and stomp box re-creations. Sure, GarageBand won't sound as warm as a tube amp hooked up to a Gretsch. But you're going have about $7,000 more in your pocket for foregoing the real thing, and you'll get to have a pretty close digital rendition.
A fuzz pedal that sounds like a fuzz pedal--oh yeah.
All of the app's guitar technology is pretty pointless if you can't actually play the instrument. Apple recognizes that all over the world, guitars are sitting neglected in attics and closets because their owners never found time to take a lessons, or just found playing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” over and over from a lesson book too mind-numbing to keep at it. It's time to bust those dusty guitars out and buddy up to Tim, Apple's official instructor of all things musical.
Pick a stomp box, any stomp box.
Apple's most touted new feature in GarageBand is the ability to learn how to play the guitar or piano. The lessons are presented in easy-to-understand videos with the ability to customize the presentation of fingering, chord grids, tablature, and hand placement. Combine that with Tim's nonthreatening teaching style, and you have a teaching tool that'll show you that there's more to piano than the Chariots of Fire theme. In addition to teaching you the fundamentals of each instrument, Tim's affirmations and tips are a welcome change from dry lesson books. For example, Tim reminded us that while learning the guitar, our fingers are going to hurt for the first few weeks and we shouldn't get discouraged. It's normal. It was nice to feel reassured that having fingers so sore we couldn't push elevator buttons with our left hand didn't mean there was something wrong with our technique.
Apple bundles the first guitar and piano lessons with GarageBand. Additional lessons can be downloaded for free directly from within GarageBand. The progression from lesson to lesson seems natural, and giving beginners the chance to actually practice with a band at the end of each lesson is much nicer than playing “Stairway to Heaven” alone in your room. You can even adjust the mix of the band that accompanies you in the final practice number. This is especially helpful if you're not quite sure you're hitting the notes correctly, and you want to solo yourself or raise your audio level. On particularly difficult sections, in both lessons and while playing songs, you can slow down the video, and also select a lesson or song section or measure to loop over and over again, until you get comfortable. Our biggest complaint is that as you're playing a lesson or section, the notation jumps to the left as the play-along guide reaches the right of the screen. We wish we could adjust the notation to be continually moving from right to left instead of jerking suddenly.
If you grow weary of Tim's lessons, for $4.99 you can download Artist Lessons and get the straight scoop on each song directly from the artists themselves. The lessons follow the same teaching style as Tim's lessons with the addition of the story behind the song. While downloading the free lessons is a seamless affair, downloading Artist Lessons sends you to the Apple Online Store to complete the transaction. A one-click purchasing feature like that found in iTunes would be a welcome update in the future.
What You Learn from the Masters
Learning an instrument can be a harrowing task filled with sweat, tears, and in extreme cases, even some bloodshed. We all have our reasons for wanting to learn to play, but we’re willing to bet the number one reason for most people is when they hear a song and hope to be able to play something as beautiful some day. With Artist Lessons in GarageBand ’09, you can learn one of your favorite songs directly from the person who composed it—not some dude who created the tablature by listening to the song a thousand times.
What’s better than learning to play "Roxanne" from the man himself?
Each lesson is categorized as Easy, Medium, and Advanced, so you won’t spend cash on something you’re not ready to attempt.
Within each lesson, the artists—usually well-known musicians—teach you a simple and advanced version of their song. The artists seem genuinely interested in teaching you, and their instructions are easy to follow. The songs differ from the original, which is actually a treat. You also get to see the progression of the song as the artist interprets it.
The best part of each lesson is the story behind the song, as told by the artist. We don’t want to spoil the surprise of how the songs came into existence, but we did find ourselves going straight to the story part of each Artist Lesson. The $4.99 price tag doesn’t seem that steep when Sting is sharing his love of certain chords with you. Apple assures us that more artist lessons are on the way, but they wouldn’t let any details slip about which artists might be featured and when the lessons would be released. We have our fingers crossed that Prince can teach us to play "Purple Rain."The $79 price tag for the entire iLife '09 suite is a steal--even if all you use is GarageBand. The core application has been updated and refined for superb ease of use, and the Guitar Experience and Learn To Play features are an exceptional value and incredibly useful to new and seasoned musicians. Artist Lessons are an awesome addition too--because who doesn't want to hear Sting tell the story behind "Roxanne"?