When it comes to creating your GarageBand drum tracks you really only have three options. You can use loops, MIDI or do actual audio recording. Let’s take a look at each.
GarageBand Audio Drum Loops
GarageBand comes with a whole bunch of audio drum loops. You can find them in the loop browser. They’re the ones with the blue box next to loop name. The loops are organized by genre, feel and length. You can audition each loop by clicking on it in the browser.
A very cool feature of GarageBand is that any loop you audition from the browser will play back at the current song tempo. This is great because some loops sound very different when they are played back at different tempos.
Whether you realize it or not, you aren’t limited to only using the audio drum loops provided with GarageBand. You can import third-party loops (those created by another company) or your own drum loops by dragging them directly onto a Real Instrument Track from the Mac Finder window.
GarageBand MIDI Drum Loops
Just like with audio drum loops, GarageBand also comes with a bunch of MIDI drum loops. These are indicated in the loop browser by a green eighth-note next to the loop name. Again, you can audition them by clicking on them in the loop browser. They will play back at the current song tempo.
Again, just as with audio loops, you can import third-party or your own MIDI drum loops into GarageBand by dragging them from the Finder window.
One difference between audio loops and MIDI loops is that you can play MIDI loops with any of the drum kits available in GarageBand. This is a big benefit since it allows you to choose whichever kit sounds most appropriate for your song. With an audio loop, because it’s an actual audio recording, you get what you get. There’s no way to play back that performance through a different drum kit.
Record Your Own GarageBand Drum Tracks
The third way to put together GarageBand drum tracks is to do your own recording. I saved this for last because it’s much more complicated than building drum tracks with audio and MIDI loops. With this method, you’re going to need to find a drummer, have them set up in a decent sounding room and and recording their performance with one or more microphones.
I’ll save the details on how to do this for another article but just understand that recording drums can get very complicated , very quickly. I’ve seen recording engineers use 10-16 mics on a drum kit. Don’t get too discouraged though, because I’ve seen other recording engineers use 1-3 mics and come away with amazing drum tracks.
A Combination Of All Three
I guess I lied to you earlier. Sorry about that. There’s actually a fourth method for building your GarageBand drum tracks and that’s to use a combination of the other three methods. In other words, there’s nothing stopping you from using a combination of audio and MIDI loops to create your drum track. Likewise, you could combine MIDI loops with an audio track of drums that you recorded yourself. These types of drum tracks are often the most effective.
Knowing which of these methods to use on your GarageBand drum tracks takes experience. That’s one things I can’t help you with. So close your browser, open up GarageBand and start a new song. What are you waiting for?