How to Use Live Loops in GarageBand- GUIDE

GarageBand LiveLoops: On opening the GarageBand application on your iPad or iPhone, the home screen will show you the various virtual instruments that the application offers. You will notice a small bar that asks you to choose between Live Loops and Tracks at the top middle section of your screen. By default, this option is set to tracks. Tracks are the more linear or traditional way of creating a song and used more commonly. A track has a start and an endpoint in between which, you add your recorded tracks, position them properly to match the time signature, and finally make ready your production. What we will discuss in this article is the other path available that is Live Loops. Choosing Live Loops essentially turns your screen into a grid. Each cell of the grid can be assigned a separate looper, an instrument, or electronic beats, to almost make the composition sound like a live performance.

On opening the Live Loops window, several small boxes, each labeled with a particular genre of music will appear on your screen. Along with that, you will see a blank box at the beginning labeled New. What Apple has done is made several ready-made tones and beats using Live Loops to facilitate users who do not want to go through the process of creating loops of their own. However, if you want to do so, you will have to click on the ‘New’ box.

How to Use one of the Readymade Loops?

  1. From the Live Loops home page, click on any of the boxes you like> There are several options available such as Rock, EDM, Dubstep, POP, HipHop, Chill, RnB, Electro Funk, and much more. For this guide, let us go ahead with the EDM Live Looper. Tapping on EDM will load a screen that will look almost like a preset or a backing track.
  2. The interface of Live Loops will look nothing like the conventional Tracks View. The grids are segregated into sections and instruments. Each column of the grid starting from left to right is known as a section while each row from top to bottom demarcates an instrument. Pinching in or out on the screen will minimize or maximize the screen you are working on. On the bottom left corner of your screen, you will see a ‘+’ symbol. Clicking on it will let you add more instruments.
  3. Clicking on each instrument on the Live Loops page will start playing that instrument in the time signature that you have set before-hand. Click on the first instrument which is the drum kick and choose the kick pattern from the first row. Once the kick has started, move on to the next instrument and repeat the process.
  4. The first 5 rows are all different parts of the drum. From the snare to the high hat, you will get different patterns for all of them individually. Additionally, various drum sounds can also be added along with other percussions. Once you have mastered the drum section completely by trying out all of the patterns available, you can move on to the melody of the song.
  5. By default, the instruments present on the Live Loops grid are the Synthesizer, Layer Pads, and Piano. The pattern has to be followed for adding the melody as well. Various electronic sounds can be used for the melody part. If you are not happy with the sequences offered in the instrument row, you can use your MIDI to record a melody and input it into one of the cells.  
  6. If you want to stop the current sequence or pause it, there is a media controller on the top of the window where all the various controls are available. At the extreme bottom left of the screen, below the ‘New Instrument’ button, is a button that on being pressed, plays the entire loop with all the selected instruments and patterns.
  7. If you are wondering how to record a beat or a melody from the Live Loops feature, the process is very simple. As mentioned in the earlier point, the media player on the top of your screen has a record button on it. To record a particular music section from live music, click on the record button and start tapping on the instrument cells. If you want to dynamically play while mixing and matching the music, you can do so. Otherwise, an easier technique would be to press the button that plays your chosen sequence automatically. After the recording has been done, you will be able to import it to other projects in the form of tracks.
  8. Import the particular track into a new project, add vocals to the track, or other lead instruments like the guitar. When you finally have a complete song, save the project to the ‘My Songs’ section of the application from where you can share it to social platforms or export to the device’s media.

How to Make a New Live Loop?

If you do not want to use any of the ready-made loop settings, you have the option of creating a new loop for your song.

  1. After clicking on the ‘New Loop’ button, a blank page with several empty cells will appear on your screen. To start your project, you can go through the Apple music library which has thousands of loops of various instruments. You can incorporate any of the loops from there without any subscription fee. Starting from sound effects to drums to bass guitars as well as lead instruments like the synthesizer and lead guitar, you will get loops across the spectrum. The description beside each loop states the number of bars (4 counts) it takes up.
  2. Colour codes beside the name of each loop are also significant. If a blue box appears beside a loop, it denotes that it is a recording. A green box represents that the tone is taken from a MIDI instrument. While MIDI recordings can be changed when used, blue loops have to be used like the way they are.
  3. Let us choose a basic Electric piano loop to begin creating a new loop. Long press of the electric piano and drop it into any of the cells of the grid. As soon as the loop is registered into the system, a piano symbol will pop up at the start of the row to denote the type of instrument in use.
  4. Next, we have to add a beat to the melody. For this, you can either scroll to the drums sections or use the instrument search bar on top. Let us add a basic 4/4 pop beat to the song. Drag and drop the beat on the cell right below the electric piano. If it is in the same column, it will play together.
  5. Following the same technique, you can add more loops to your track. Live Loops does not cut you off the other options of GarageBand. Like a normal track, you can record instruments as well as use MIDI keyboards. The virtual keyboard feature along with the Musical Typing feature can all be used here. Each cell has a fixed bar count. By default, each cell is set to 4 bars. The bar count can be changed from the Edit button.
  6. Try out your favourite beat combination. Use the Smart Controls Mixer from the Inspector. Open it up and twitch the knobs to bring the best feel out of your track. Once completed, save the project in the ‘My Songs’ folder of the application. While exporting the song, the uncompressed version of the song, though comparatively bigger in memory size, will provide the best depth to the song without compromising on the finer detailing.