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Making Music With an iPad

Apple’s iPad has found its way into all corners of everyday life and music-making hasn’t escaped its finger-friendly approach. Coupling powerful CPU with a reliable and innovative touchscreen has meant musicians, DJs, producers and performers have all reached for the magic device for inspiration and control in the studio, on stage and in the booth. While no one is going to be packing up their studio computers in place of the humble ‘Pad, it makes a brilliant addition to any music-maker’s setup as a touchscreen controller, sound source or even a sketchpad for ideas on the go.

With Christmas just around the corner we decided to get anyone thinking of picking up a ‘Pad or wondering what to buy for the music-maker in their lives up to speed with what’s possible with a single app, a simple controller and iPad Mini. Don’t forget that if you pay for one of our Diploma courses in advance, you’ll be given a FREE iPad Mini with your course. Click here for more details.

Video Transcription:

Ski: I’ve been really getting into GarageBand on the iPad recently. With the update for the Mac version and also the integration with Logic 10, you can literally make music anywhere and use it as a mobile sketch pad. In this video, I’m going to show you how to build up a quick idea, which I’ll then upload via iCloud so I can continue working on it on my laptop. Let’s start off by creating a new song.

You can see I’ve got my iPad here, with the GarageBand icon. Let’s click on that. It takes me to the page which shows the songs that I’ve been working on already. I’m just going to click on this + button to create a new song. Immediately, it just asks me to select a new instrument, so it’s straight to the point. Let’s go for drums first. I’m going to click on the drum icon. Let’s go for … at the moment, it’s got a classic studio kit. Let’s go for a drum machine. Here we go, house drum machine which is brought up. We’ve got some classic sounds here, 909, 880 sounds. I can also play these sounds from my keyboard. I’ve got it connected using the Lightning-to-USB connector. I’m just going to use the pads for the moment.

There’s a few things we need to do before we start recording. I’m going to click on this little wrench icon. Let’s set the tempo; it’s 110 at the moment. Let’s go for 125. That should do us. What else? Let’s set the metronome sound to a click rather than a wood block. Also, the quantization is set to 1/16 note. I think we’ll leave it at that for the moment and maybe experiment with some swing a little bit later. Finally, I just want to set the length of the section we’re going to be working on. At the moment if I click on this + button, you can see it’s got our first section, section A, and it’s got it as 8 bars. Let’s change that to 4 bars. We should be good to go now. Let’s play that just to make sure the metronome is sounding.

Let’s put in our kick drum. At this point we can take out the metronome. I don’t think we need that in any more. Let’s take that out. Let’s try a hi-hat now, maybe a clap, maybe a bit of rimshot. You can hear it’s quantized it as I’ve been putting it in; sounding good. Add a little nice ride cymbal. Let’s put a bit of swing on this. I’m going to click on this Control button, and it’s got multiple quantization. Let’s put this to … that 1/16 swing heavy’s a bit too much. Let’s just try the light version, 1/16 swing light. Cool. That’s our first part. We’re going to drum track now.

If I click on this button which takes us to our arrangement, you can actually see the part. This is our region, and we can go in and edit this. If I just double-click on that, you can see we have so menu selections. We could just click on the Edit on there, and then you can see it represented. Brilliant, just like the piano roll in Logic or GarageBand. That’s sounding pretty cool to me.

The next thing I want to do is to try bassline. I’m going to click on this Add Track + button. Let’s flick over to the keyboard. It defaults to a grand piano, which I can also play on here. Let’s go for a bass sound. Let’s try this one. Put it down an octave, that’s cool. Let’s play it with a beat, just to see the level. Let’s change the level a little bit. I’m going to turn it down, just put down the level. Go back to the instrument. Let’s put this in. I didn’t have the quantize on there; it’s a little bit out of time, but we can easily rectify that. We just go to the quantization again, and let’s give it the same swing as the drums: 1/16 swing light. Let’s play that now. It’s got a nice feel. Let’s try a pad now; same thing. I’m going to go back to the arrangement. Click on New Track. Keyboard again. Let’s go to the pad section. Let’s go for the first one, Chill Pad.

That’s really loud. I can hear already that it’s a little bit loud, so I’m going to do the same thing. I’m just going to take the level down a bit. Go back to the instrument. I’m going to follow those bass notes. It’s going from an A, to an E, to an F. Let’s record that in. Let’s listen to what that sounds like. Again, I’m going to put a bit of quantization on that. Let’s use the same one. You can see how we’re building up the tracks very quickly. Got us a nice part.

Let’s have a look at Apple Loops; maybe we could try adding a percussive part to this. I’m going to click on this Apple Loops icon. First of all, we can select the instruments; we’ve got all sorts of instruments: Guitars, drums, bass, whatever. Let’s try the shaker. I’m going to press Play again so we can actually play along with this. Quite nice. I quite like that one. That’s great. All we need to do is grab it and just drag it onto the arrangement. A bit loud, let’s turn it down. There’s a few ideas.

I think the next stage is to save this song and to upload it to iCloud so we can bring it up on the laptop and do a bit more work on it. I’m going to click on My Songs; I’m going to save it there. It’s giving it a default name. Let’s click and just give it a new name. Let’s try ‘Deep 1,’ done. Then we’re just going to click-and-hold, and then Upload Song to iCloud. Then as long as we have our iCloud setup properly on the computer, those should appear when we launch GarageBand. Let’s come back and have a look in a minute.

I’m on my laptop now. The next stage is to try to import the song that we created on the iPad into GarageBand. I’m going to go up to file menu and scroll down to iCloud, then Import GarageBand for iOS Song; Click on that. Miraculously, it will bring up the full projects that I’ve got stored in my iCloud. The first one, the most recent one, is the one that we created, which is ‘’. Let’s double-click on that. I’m going to click on Don’t Save. The first thing it’s asking me to do is to save this, so I’m just going to save this now. This means it will save it as a Mac version rather than an iOS version. Let’s just click Save. Straightaway it’s come up, so let’s hit Play and see what it sounds like. Fantastic. We’ve saved that and I’m just going to make sure it’s saved. We can then try loading it into our Logic 10. I’ve saved that. I’m going to quit GarageBand now. I’m going to load up my Logic 10. Let’s just go to Open, and let’s find our iOS tracks; Deep2, this is the one we just saved, if you remember. Click on Open and let’s close the current song. Again, it’s asking me now to save this as a Logic 10 song, so I’m going to click on Save.

It’s opened it up in Logic 10 now. I’m going to play this. We can now actually check out what all these instruments are. If we click on Inspector button, we can go to our drum machine. It’s actually in the EXS 24. Let’s click on the Editor, basic drum machine. We can go to this XO Planet sound, this lovely bass sound. This is actually a retro synth. I’d imagine it’s an FM sound. Let’s go to the Chill Pad sound, another retro synth sound. We can start adding some automation and that thing, as well. Then we got our shaker, which was inApple Loop. There’s loads of thing we could do in Logic 10 that we can’t do in GarageBand, one of which is recording automation. Obviously, it’s a lot easier to start moving the arrangement around and adding different sections and that thing. I love the integration of the iOS version of GarageBand with Logic. I can definitely see myself using it more for sketching down ideas on the move.

Danny: At Pointblank Online, you got two methods of interaction with your tutor: Firstly, you’ve got the weekly online master class, which is in real time, and then also we’ve got feedback on your assignments, and that’s known as DVR. The online master class is a 1-hour session that you get with your tutor every week. You can ask questions about the lesson content, you get instant feedback, and also demonstrations on-the-fly from their computer desktop with our streaming technology.

DVR stands for Direct Video Response, and concept is really simple: You upload you Ableton, Logic, or Cubase project file to your computer, you download it, and then pushed record on screen capturing software and it evaluates your work; basically giving you one-to-one feedback. You see all of the mouse movements and any parameter changes made by your tutor. It’s like sitting in the studio, over their shoulder watching what they’re doing whilst they work. We found the DVR process is truly revolutionize the way we teach online, and the results speak for themselves.

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Editor’s Note: This is an old article and things have moved on considerably since the original publication date 🙂

For more information head over to the Point Blank Music School website to learn the very latest about our school.

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