Geeky musicians all over the world have been waiting for this one. GarageBand ’11 was the third app announced at the recent ‘Back to the Mac’ event to have received the star treatment in the upgrade from iLife ’09 to iLife ’11, and it comes with some features that people probably won’t want to do without after using.
Of course GarageBand has always been insanely popular with musicians who use Mac OS X, as it makes it so simple to do things that would normally require a room full of equipment and very expensive software. Does the new version improve upon this, or pack too many features at the cost of usability? Let’s check it out and see for ourselves!
New Lessons, And How Did I Play?
I’ve always loved the fact that GarageBand includes built in lessons for both Piano and Guitar players. For people just starting out with a new instrument, or any instrument for that matter, an easy to follow guide is pretty essential if you’re not being tutored.
To be able to see someone take you through the steps one at a time, and see exactly how to play on the screen in front of you, is a pretty awesome tool to have. This has been expanded event further in GarageBand ’11, with the addition of an extra 40 tutorials for users, and the chord trainer, to help you master guitar chords at your own pace.
Whether you’re just starting out, or simply trying to master a new song, there’s a brand new feature in GarageBand ’11 called “How Did I Play?”. The concept is pretty simple, you jam along to whatever it is you want to play, and GarageBand will tell you where you went right, and where you went wrong. You’ll be monitored on both your rhythm and note accuracy, and based upon these you’ll be able to check how you’re doing on the performance meter.
To make it easier for you to spot where you went wrong, or which parts could have been better, sections of notes are colour coded for you, so you know where to improve next time. Liking it so far? It’s looking promising!
Flex Time and Groove Matching
Like the “How Did I Play?” feature, Flex Time will let you analyse the recording of your track that you’ve recorded. The difference of Flex Time, however, is that you can use techniques to actually fix the rhythm of your song after you’ve recorded it, so if it’s slightly off, so you end up with the perfect track once you’re done. This is pretty simple for anyone to do, as you can simply place your cursor over the area that you wish to change, and move, stretch or shorten any note that needs a little help to sound just right.
Groove matching is another technique that will allow you to alter your track once you have finished recording it. The idea is, that if you are working with multiple instruments at once, on multiple tracks, there’s a chance that one or more of those instruments could be out of rhythm. Rather than go to the hassle of manually trying to fix the track, or re-record it, GarageBand will automatically adjust the rhythm of all the tracks based on one “groove track”.
Again, it’s a really neat addition that could save a lot of people a lot of problems if they’re trying to get a track just right, and a welcome addition in GarageBand ’11.
For many musicians, the improvements present in GarageBand ’11 most probably warrant the £45 price tag alone, even if they aren’t interested in the rest of the iLife ’11 suite that includes the updated iPhoto ’11 and iMovie ’11. Apple has once again managed to implement new features without compromising the usability of GarageBand in any way, and it’s still a very friendly application for beginners who have never used it before and are still finding their way around.
You can purchase GarageBand ’11 with the rest of the iLife ’11 suite from Apple for £45.