Garageband for the iPad is a ridiculously specified application. I can’t compare it with the regular version of Garageband, as I have never used that, but it certainly seems to possess the hands-on ease of use that I have heard of its older sibling. In some ways it is a complete recording studio on the iPad, but in others it can be frustrating. The various ‘smart’ options for strings, guitar, bass, keyboard and drums offer facilities similar to what you might expect on a home keyboard in terms of auto-accompaniment, but are very flexible to the extent that you can select a certain style of music and play along with a single violin, a whole string section or many other possibilities. These are further supported by different ways to play the same virtual instruments, so you can bow a cello or pluck it, play in chords or single notes, as well as applying reasonably convincing vibrato and pitch bends.
The range of instruments on offer is also impressive, from grand pianos to mono synths, upright bass to distorted lead rock guitar, as well as offering the possibility to plug in your own guitar and use built-in effects or record your own voice or other instruments. As an introduction to sequencing and multi-track recording it is fantastic, but for someone already proficient on a more professional DAW, some things can seem confusing or, in many cases, missing altogether. For example, there is no way to edit sound levels (velocity) other than by individual note and no way to see what the velocity settings are without editing.
The egg shaker was a little bargain we picked up from Klangfarbe, the huge music shop housed in a former gasometer in Vienna. It produces a sharp percussive sound when shaken and is the shape of an egg. Not much else to say, really.
The first piece is a mini string-section, created with various ‘smart’ string settings within Garageband and features a slow, deep cello and bass section flanked by two short pizzicato melodies. On the final section, the shaker joins the party to accentuate the pizz.
A synth-heavy, atmospheric piece using pad sounds from Garageband, an electric piano sample running through the built-in arpeggiator and some effected virtual guitar. Further atmospherics come from a slowed down and highly warped (with resonant filter and delay) shaker. In this case the shaker was turned, rather than shaken, to create a swirling effect.