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Use the piano roll to edit your GarageBand tracks

Master the piano roll in GarageBand to make changes to the parts of songs you've played or recorded. Follow this easy tutorial to find out how.

20-minute intermediate tutorial
GarageBand Piano Roll TutorialThe beauty of creating music digitally is the option to continuously alter what you are putting down, which is a huge limitation of live recording. Even if you want to record each part using a keyboard, or MIDI drum kit, you needn’t worry about being perfectly in time as you can always jump into the part and alter any errors. What’s more, you can also alter elements like the velocity of a keystroke and the modulation used, and you can even see what the part looks like on a musical score. This may sound incredibly technical, but fear not: GarageBand has a fantastic way of making even the most complex programming techniques really simple. Everything is done within the same familiar interface and these techniques, once learned, will become a staple of every track, mix or project you complete using the software. Here is a quick guide to accessing the piano roll, what each part does and how to get the best from it.

GarageBand Piano Roll Tutorial - Step By Step

GarageBand Piano Roll Tutorial - Step 1

Step 1: Easy way
Double-click on the portion of music you want to edit and the piano roll will spring to life at the bottom of the interface. You’ll be able to see all of the MIDI notes that have been recorded to form that part.

GarageBand Piano Roll Tutorial - Step 2

Step 2: Resize it
Click and drag the top of the piano roll interface to make the viewable amount bigger. With larger piano parts this is advisable as there’s no way to zoom in on the depth of a track or its corresponding piano roll part.

GarageBand Piano Roll Tutorial - Step 3

Step 3: Extra options
Here you click to view different elements of the same part. These can then be fine-tuned and reviewed until they are correct. If you haven’t already added any of these elements, it can be done here too.

GarageBand Piano Roll Tutorial - Step 4

Step 4: What a score
You can, with a click, view a score of the music you’ve recorded. This is handy if you want to ensure that timings and key changes are correct. Flick back to the piano roll at any time with a click on the left-hand tab.

Click on the image below to zoom in and view the annotations.

GarageBand Piano Roll Tutorial - Annotated