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How to master Score editing in GarageBand

We turn the spotlight on the Score editing features in GarageBand’s Notation View to make sure your MIDI parts score highly

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Most GarageBand users will be familiar with the Piano Roll MIDI editor in which the timing, length, pitch and velocity of MIDI notes can be tidied up, and most will also be aware that the app can display software instrument parts as musical notation. If you’ve got a smattering of music theory under your belt, however, you can just as easily edit your MIDI parts in the Score editor, as GarageBand gives you the ability to manipulate the notes directly on the stave in pretty much the same way as you would in the Piano Roll editor.

The steps below illustrate some of the more common problems you’re likely to come across when editing MIDI parts, and how you can put them right using the excellent Score editor.

1: Open editor

To open the score editor, first double-click the MIDI region you wish to edit in the Timeline, then click the Score tab in the Edit pane’s header.

2: Score draw

To get the score displayed correctly, you’ll need to enter the correct key and time signatures in the project display of the LCD panel at the bottom.

3: Insert notes

To add extra notes, select the required note value from the Insert menu, then Cmd+click in the stave at the point where you want to add the new note.

4: Move and copy

You can drag notes left or right to move them to a different position in the bar. To copy notes, hold down the Alt key while dragging.

5: Note length

When you select a note, its duration is shown as a pale green bar. Duration bars work just the same as those in the Piano Roll – just drag to adjust the note.

6: Turn it up

In this example, the left-hand part looks okay, but the last of the four notes was played too lightly. Select it and move the Velocity slider to correct this.

7: Correct wrong notes

The D shown here should have been an E, so we can correct it simply by selecting it and hitting the Up arrow key twice to nudge it up two semitones.

8: Remove unwanted notes

This arpeggio contains lots of duff double notes. To remove these, we just click on the offending notes and hit Backspace, leaving the right notes behind.

9: Partial re-quantize

Sometimes a cluster of triplets gets mis-quantized as 16th notes. Select them, then pick the correct value from the Quantize Note Timing menu.

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