Using Software Instruments

Once all your connections are made, we are ready to begin playing synthesized sounds from our Godin Synth Access guitar. We'll look at a simple application that provides software instruments that we can play from our Godin guitar, GarageBand from Apple. GarageBand is included free with all new Macintosh computers, or if you have a machine that you purchased prior to GarageBand's release in January 2004, you can buy GarageBand as part of Apple's iLife suite of applications for less than $50.

GarageBand

1. With all your connections made and tested, launch the GarageBand application by double-clickin on its icon in the Finder.

You will see the following screen:

Figure 1. GarageBand

Along the left side of the window, you will find a vertical listing of tracks. The first (and only) one in this example is the default instrument, an acoustic piano. If you start playing your guitar, you will hear the piano sound. Cool, huh?

2. Click the record button to the left of the transport, and play some piano with your Godin guitar. Then press the stop key, rewind to the beginning and play back your piano part. It's quite simple!

Next lets, try to play a more electronic sound. We'll add a new track and assign it to a new software instrument.

3. From the Track menu, choose "New Track..."

You'll see the new track window.

4. Click on the Software Instrument tab, then choose the Synth Leads category, and the Digital Brass sound as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. The New Track window with the Digital Brass sound selected.

5. Click the Create button, and a new track will be added to GarageBand's track list. Try playing this sound with your Godin SA guitar. If you feel like it, record a part against the first piano part you recorded.

6. Click on the Edit tool (the scissors icon) to display the edit window for the selected track, then click on the eighth-note icon to display the music notation for the part you played. Figure 3 shows the music notation edit window, but without any music displayed.

Figure 3. The music notation edit view in GarageBand

Now that you have the basic idea, go to it and make some music with your Godin Synth Access guitar and GarageBand.

GarageBand makes it easy to enter the world of electronic music production with your guitar, but it does have its limitations. If you want even more power, Logic Pro is the big brother to GarageBand, and reads GarageBand files. It costs less than $1000, and provides many software instruments, sampling instruments with large libraries of sampled sounds, multitrack MIDI and audio recording and editing, many digital signal processors including amplifier simulators, and full-featured music notation for preparing professional-looking scores and parts.

By the way, Berklee College of Music offers online instruction in using these kinds of music production tools, through its online extension school at BerkleeMusic.com. Check out the variety of courses designed to help you learn to better realize your musical creativiy using these tools!


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