Podcasting Secrets In Garageband 4
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Podcasting Secrets In Garageband 4

Spice up your podcasts with real-time audio triggering

By Sam Mallery

Television and radio broadcasters rely heavily on audio cues to set the pace and the tone of the programs they produce. Now the very same audio cue triggering functionality is available in Garageband 4, and in this article we're going to show you how to set it up. You'll be able to insert theme and segue music on-the-fly in real-time with minimal effort as you record your podcast. The practice of triggering live cues will benefit your work by eliminating much of the necessary post-production splicing and editing. If all of the sound samples are already in place when you finish recording, there is no need to painstakingly add them in later. This ability will also create an air of spontaneity in your production that can't be achieved by any other means.


The good news is that it's relatively easy to set-up! Launch Garageband and create a New Podcast Episode.

1) Under the Track menu at the top of the screen, select New Track.

2) In the window that pops up, select Software Instrument, and click Create.

Garageband's default instrument is the Grand Piano. What we need to do is change the instrument from the Grand Piano to the Sound Effects instrument. In order to do this we need to access Garageband's instrument browser.

3) Double-click on the Piano icon on the instrument track to open the instrument browser, if it's not already visible in the lower right hand corner of the screen.

4) In the first column of the instrument browser select Sound Effects. Tip: “Sound Effects” is located directly under “Pianos and Keyboards.”

5) Now that Sound Effects is highlighted, select Radio Sounds in the next column over on the right.

6) Under the Window menu at the top of the screen, select Musical Typing.

A small screen will open up revealing a unique looking piano keyboard. This keyboard screen is showing you which keys on your computer's keyboard can now be used to play notes, essentially turning your computer fully into an instrument to trigger sounds. The Musical Typing feature can be used with all of the instruments within Garageband, but the Sound Effects instrument we chose earlier has an extra special functionality...

Play some of the keys on your keyboard. As you can hear, you can now trigger the Radio Sounds provided by Garageband just by pressing the keys on your computer's keyboard. If you have your own music or sound clips that you intend to use in your podcast, your sounds can also be triggered by your computer's keyboard.

For the next portion of this tutorial, it would be helpful if you had an audio file sitting on your computer's desktop. Intro music or segue sound files would be good ones to experiment with.

7) Arrange the Garageband windows on your computer so you can see the audio file sitting on your desktop.

8) Click the file on your desktop and drag it over to a key on the Musical Typing screen

When the file is hovering over a key on the Musical Typing screen, the key will highlight and a green + symbol will appear. Garageband is telling you that it is okay to drop that file into the Musical Typing keyboard

9) Go ahead and drop the file on any key of the Musical Typing keyboard

10) Now press that key on your computer's keyboard. The file plays back as long as you hold down the key. Congratulations! You have just triggered an audio cue! David Letterman may hire you at any moment.

The practice of dropping your own audio files onto the keys of the Musical Typing keyboard can be used in a myriad of different ways. Use it to trigger the intro and closing music of your show. Use it to trigger a pre-recorded segment of the show, like an interview or a musical guest. Trigger public service announcements, segues, advertisements, even plugs for your own show.

Be aware of the octave keys on the Musical Typing keyboard (keys Z and X). If you accidentally press one of these keys the keyboard will shift octaves and the keys that you have assigned sounds to will not be accessible to trigger. If this happens, just press Z or X to get back to the octave that you assigned the sounds to.

What's extra cool is that Garageband saves these sounds with your episode file, so when you reopen it you don't have to set this up again. For ultra coolness, you can save the custom podcasting instrument you created. In the Track Info screen on the very bottom of the right hand corner, there is a little triangle with the word Details beside it. Click on that triangle. At the bottom there is a Save Instrument button. Push that button and give your custom instrument a name. Now you can use it on every new podcast you make! Your original creation will be located in the Sound Effects category of the instrument browser.

If you have any questions about Podcasting, we encourage you to contact us on the phone, online, or in person at our SuperStore in New York City. 1-800-947-9923

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