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How to arrange a movie score on your iPad with Garageband

Take advantage of GarageBand’s Smart Strings to create a Hollywood blockbuster-style arrangement

GarageBand is a tool to be played with and experimented with by anyone, regardless of musical ability.
This is clear from the way the app is set up and the inclusion of the Smart Instruments. While the facilities are there for real musicians to be able to work while on the move, the help is there to make even the most musically challenged feel like they can shape a number one hit.

Creating a movie score is something everyone should try, especially if you have some home footage that you think would benefit from an epic or cinematic sound bed. The beauty of the trial and error nature of GarageBand is easy to see in a process like this.

If you’re feeling confident you can have a go without using facilities like Autoplay, which create a tune or melody for you. Smart Strings puts an orchestra at your disposal – a very effective tool if used correctly. You can then add additional layers from instruments like the Grand Piano or even a drum kit if you feel the need to, before easily exporting your song to iTunes, and then onto your video.

1: Smart Strings

Start off by heading to the Smart Strings section. You can alter the string setup and instruments used by selecting from the templates in the box, or tap an instrument to remove it from the line-up.

2: Record a sound bed

Once you’ve had some interaction with the various chords, you can record the first layer of your score. If you’re happy, you can do this yourself without any help by tapping and pulling along the chords.

3: Autoplay

The other option is to use the Autoplay feature, which can be accessed via the dial on the right of the screen. Choose a chord and then move through the numbers to find a tune you like.

4: Sense of drama

It wouldn’t be a movie score without a dramatic piano interlude, so tap the Instruments icon and select either the Keyboard or Smart Keyboard. For an authentic sound, choose the Grand Piano.

5: Record

If you’ve chosen to use the Smart Keyboard you have the chance to select two chords to use in the Autoplay sequence. Use the playback feature at the top of the screen to find a combination that works.

6: Track view

Having created your first two layers, you can now head to the Track View. Tap the bar icon near the playback options to move to this screen. Here you can start to reshape your track as you need to.

7: Loop recording

If you want to extend a layer of your track, tap it once to select it, and again to open a menu. Tap the Loop icon and this layer will play on repeat. The curved arrow symbol on the layer will indicate this.

8: Tweaks and extras

In the narrow left-hand column you’ll find a plus sign that enables you to add additional layers to a track. Use the settings icon to alter tempo, fade and even the key of the track.

9: Export

Once you’re happy you can export it by going to My Songs, tapping Edit and selecting the relevant song and then the Share icon. This will give you a list of potential destinations for your new movie score.

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