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Create a synth track in GarageBand

All you budding Giorgio Moroders out there – it’s time to explore the library of synth sounds!

It has to be said that despite the fact it comes preloaded free on every Mac, GarageBand is a bit of a music production powerhouse. Behind its unassuming exterior lies a veritable cornucopia of sounds and instruments to build your music projects. The selection includes a large number of software instruments, from drum kits and orchestral instruments to piano and strings.

Since these are all modelled in software, it goes without saying that a large portion of the library consists of synthesizer sounds, from warm, fat analogue basses to soaring leads and thick, layered presets perfect for dance music. So in this tutorial, we’re going to look at how to mine this rich seam of synth sounds and get some synthsational electronic sounds into your tracks.

GBX Synth Tracks 01

1 Project preparation

Working in a new, empty GarageBand project, set the tempo to 130bpm, then click the + button at the top of the track list in order to create a new track.

GBX Synth Tracks 02

2 Choose track type

Click the image of the synthesizer on the left to create a software instrument track, allowing you to select and play any of the software instruments in GarageBand’s library.

GBX Synth Tracks 03

3 Create track

Now click on Create to add the new track to your project. The Library pane on the left will open up with the default Classic Electric Piano preset selected.

GBX Synth Tracks 04

4 Browse library

From the Library pane, which contains a menu of all the available instruments, select the Synthesizer category. Several subcategories will appear. We’re going for the Brass section first.

GBX Synth Tracks 05

5 Select sound

Click a preset’s name to select it. We’ve gone for Emotive Pulse, but not all presets are available on all systems, so you may need to download additional content via the File menu.

GBX Synth Tracks 06

6 Import project files

Import the files ‘GBX Synth Track Drums.aif’ and ‘GBX Synth Track Bass.aif’ from our FileSilo page by dragging and dropping them from the Finder into your project timeline.

GBX Synth Tracks 07

7 Import MIDI part

Next, import the file ‘Emotive Pulse.mid’ onto the Emotive Pulse track (or you could always record your own MIDI part if you prefer). Hit Play to hear the result – it needs a little adjustment.

GBX Synth Tracks 08

8 Take control

Hit the Smart Controls button to bring up some controls for the sound. We want to make the sound shorter, so bring the Release control down close to zero to achieve this.

GBX Synth Tracks 09

9 Adjust effects

Finally, turn up the Delay control to add more delay effect to the sound. Alternatively, to try out another synth sound, just pick a new one from the Library pane and hit Play once again.