With GarageBand for the Mac, Apple created something no one else had – a relatively inexpensive, very powerful music recording studio right on the computer. Several iterations later, GarageBand came to the iPad, doing the same thing for mobile musicians in a big way. For $5, anyone with an iPad can create, record, and enjoy making music, even if they have little experience with recording software or musical instruments.
The foundation of any good rock, dance, or pop song is the beat. Creating a drum track that stands out will take your music from “meh” to “wow.” With GarageBand for iPad, you can now create drum tracks that sound incredibly good with very little knowledge or expertise.
When you start GarageBand on your iPad, swipe over to the Smart Drums icon, and tap it. You’ll be taken to the Smart Drums interface, which looks like an eight-by-eight grid of squares in the middle. To the right are the individual drum parts, and to the left is the type of kit that you are emulating.
Tap on the drum icon to the left, and choose the drum set you’d like to use. Each of the drum kits or machines has a different set of sounds that make it up, so experiment around a bit.
To create an interesting drum track, drag parts of the drum kit from the list on the right to the grid. Items place near the top will be louder, while those placed near the bottom will be softer. Drum sounds put on the left side of the grid will play in a simpler pattern, and those placed on the right side will play a more complex one.
Finding the right balance can be fun, so play around with various combinations until something strikes you as interesting. Even more fun is the dice button, located in the lower left. Tap it to get all sorts of cool randomly generated drum tracks. Pro tip: you can put more than one icon in any square on the grid.
Once you’ve got the killer track that’s just right for your latest album, it’s time to record. Tap the red record button at the top of the screen and GarageBand will count off the first four beats, then record the drum track you’ve just made. Once it has recorded the first eight measures, GarageBand for iPad will stop recording, and just play from the first measure on, in a loop. Tap the plus button in the upper right to add another eight bars. You can add a new, empty section with the Add button or simply duplicate the section you just recorded by tapping the Duplicate button.
When you’re done, tap My Songs in the upper left to go back to the song browser. GarageBand will save your efforts, ready for the next recording session, when you add bass, keyboard, and guitar parts!