Simple recording with multiple tracks. Assume I'm not very tech savvy.
June 28, 2020 10:23 PM   Subscribe

Pretty much what it says on the tin. Is there a cheap app I can use? If I can do this on garage band (which I feel like I have on my ipad) what's the basic how-to. The plus: I don't care if the sound is good. I just want to be able to sing a vocal track, then lay another over it and possibly one more. The minus: I don't think I'm super at navigating tech stuff though I'm on screens all the damn time. Like I find Audacity fairly confusing. I need a little walking-through. Thanks!
posted by less of course to Technology (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Short answer: Yes! GarageBand will do this for you, and it is fairly straightforward to use.

Longer answer: To make life easier on yourself when recording multiple tracks on GarageBand, definitely make use of the metronome and count-in functions. Adjust the beats per minute (BPM) for your metronome to match how quickly you would like your vocal track to go. You can find the metronome next to the record button, I believe, and any count-in, tempo, and time signature options in the settings menu. The count-in will give you time to get a feel for the speed of what you're about to sing and the metronome will make sure that everything you sing follows that from start to finish. It is a PAIN trying to guess where the next note is going to sound if you've sung the first track without it. You can ignore the key signature option unless you plan to transpose your tracks higher or lower after you've recorded.

Be sure to plug in earbuds/headphones when recording so that the mic doesn't pick up the metronome clicking or any of the other vocal tracks you've already laid down.

Once you've laid down that first track, you should be able to add your next track fairly easily. If your iPad version of GarageBand looks anything like the one on my phone, you can switch to the track view with one of the buttons at the top of the screen where the "plus" sign to add more tracks will be visible.

Hope that helps!
posted by elected_potato at 11:06 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]

Real world recording studios - come with an expensive per hour price tag - but also with recording engineers, producers and session musicians who are experts in helping you -the artist or composer - deal with the condition of "not being very tech savvy". That condition covers people who cover a range from those who know nothing about music other than a song in their head that they want to turn into something else - to people who understand a great deal about performing and writing - but just not the world of recording.

It is quite important to understand where what skills you do have - because that can help with suggesting where to start. For example - you could start with an app like iRealPro which lets you create first runs of songs - with a backing band - on the basis of simply writing out the sort of chord charts that commonly used by jazz musicians. If that happened to be the sort of starting point that you were most familiar with - then you could start off there - then export the results as a MIDI file and import the whole thing into a GaragaBand where you can further tweak it or elaborate on it.

- But of course the recommendation would be completely different if you were coming along with a written score or with a DJ's set of loops or whatever other starting point you might have.

In any case, yes, Garageband is an incredibly powerful and well put together free app - and the iPad also has a suite of other great free or inexpensive apps that can work with it (Audiokit's SynthOne for example). I'd recommend Dan Baker's introduction to give you a quick idea of what can be done.
posted by rongorongo at 12:34 AM on June 29

Yes, GarageBand is what you want for this. It’s fairly easy to learn, there are infinite tutorials online. Consider getting an iRig mic that you can plug directly into your iPad.
posted by gnutron at 6:29 AM on June 29 [1 favorite]

One thing that you will probably find helpful with multitrack recording is to have a click/metronome track from the beginning to help keep you on beat.
posted by Candleman at 9:18 AM on June 29

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