Learning & Creating with GarageBand

As a solid PC user, I have had very little experience with Mac’s software and its applications. I believe that the closet that I have ever gotten to using GarageBand is watching my peers in the sixth grade play around and make beats in class instead of doing the required assignment. I remember being fascinated by the ability to make numerous, unique songs from one beat, and I also remember being entirely confused in the process of making them. Upon learning that we would be getting an introduction to the GarageBand application in freshman seminar, I had mixed feelings of excitement and of nervousness. Finally, I would be able to have a chance at something I have only ever admired, yet I was also afraid that I would be extremely untalented at it.

The first day of the sessions with Elijah Palnik went incredibly well despite my worries. Along with the introduction to the program, we learned how to layer loops of melodies of beats together to create a song of sorts. After demonstrating the steps to creating a song, Elijah gave us the freedom to actually do so. For me, learning the steps were simple enough; I had originally expected the program to be far more difficult to learn, but fundamentally it is dragging sounds onto a staff. The hardest part was finding sounds that worked together to form something that my ears agreed with. I remember that the start, finding the track to build off of, was difficult because there were an abundance of choices, yet I did not want to use any of them. I settled on an acoustic Spanish guitar and finished with a Latin-influenced piece that I was not particularly proud of. When it came time to share, compared to some others, my song began to sound even worse – I consciously did not save it. Looking back, I should have been proud at my progress and not have compared it to others. In an hour, I became adequate in the program and created a song.

In the next session with Elijah, we worked on creating soundscapes. The idea of a soundscape is to invoke imagery of a scene by using a composed set of sounds – similar to watching a movie with no video. Using the same program of GarageBand and sounds from the database Freesound.org, the same idea applied of layering sounds to create a final project. For my soundscape, I had originally wanted to create the scene of a woman getting ready to take a shower. I started my process by thinking of actions first and then finding sounds to match. For example, a bathroom door shutting, the handle of a faucet turning, and water running. The one setback I encountered was that was I could not find any sounds relating to the sound of clothes being taken off. I believed that without those sounds, my soundscape would be incomplete, so I started fresh with a new idea.

My new soundscape depicts a man waking up in the morning. I wanted to show him waking from bed and starting the first few motions of his day. Luckily, I was able to find sounds of a bed creaking, yawning, and feet padding on a floor – these were all little details, yet they create a huge difference in the scene. After putting the sounds in order, the image I created was a man waking to his alarm, getting out of bed to open his bedroom window, and going downstairs to a woman making breakfast. It is fascinating how this imagery can be pulled from a few mundane sounds.

The song that I have posted with this blog post is my morning soundscape. I chose to post this not only because I am proud at the work I have created, but because it is something that I like doing as well. I find that creating soundscapes are more interesting to me than creating songs; I get to put much more detail into it and can draw specific images and moments from life. I am very grateful that I was able to learn both processes of creating songs and soundscapes through GarageBand and to be able to share my work as well.

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