Intermediate level: Keyboards

Adjust note timing

Improve the timing of live-played virtual instruments by using quantising to align notes to a grid.

In macOS, this option is found in Piano Roll > Notes within the Editor (E); on iOS, Quantisation is in the Mixer menu (sliders icon). Also, try temporarily slowing the song’s tempo while recording tricky bits.

Play patterns

Arpeggiators are excellent tools for musicians, playing chord patterns by sounding each note in sequence.

Access GarageBand’s arpeggiator through the ‘five dots arrow’ button, and then experiment with note and octave settings. The arpeggiator is especially good for quickly creating bass and rhythm tracks for electronic music.

Use virtual keyboards

If you lack a USB piano keyboard, there are virtual equivalents. On the Mac, Window > Show Musical Typing (Cmd+K) enables you to use your Mac’s keyboard for playing notes.

On iOS, a keyboard is a major part of the interface when you select a relevant instrument. Use the Keyboard button to toggle velocity sensitivity or choose a new key thickness. Tap the Scale menu to restrict available keys to those within a specific scale.

Save your synths

Built-in presets soon become overly familiar, but GarageBand enables you to adjust synth settings to create something unique.

Once you’ve finished tweaking your new synth, save your set-up to use again in future – in macOS use ‘Save…’ in the Library pane; in iOS, use ‘Save’ in the instrument selector. On iOS, Alchemy Synth’s a good bet for creating new sounds, due to its selection of dials and pads.

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