This week, GarageBand saw the first new entry in its Sound Library since the feature was added in version 2.3. The Sound Library is a kind of App Store for music, letting you browse and download all kinds of samples, loops, presets and even brand-new software instruments. These come in sound packs arranged around a theme or genre. The new one is called Flex and Flow, and it brings you chilled hip-hop.
Flex and Flow
“Pack” is the right word, too, because Flex and Flow is chock-full of great stuff. It contains 395 Apple Loops, 25 Alchemy synth sounds, five drum kits, and two Live Loops, contained in a 174MB download.
To preview or download the pack, just tap the loop icon (between the wrench and the metronome) on the main GarageBand screen, and then tap Get more Apple Loops. That opens the Sound Library, where you can browse, preview and download sound packs. (You can also delete any you no longer want to save space.)
Apple Live Loops
The best way to check out any new pack is to use the Live Loops. These have many, most or all of the pack’s sounds preloaded into a grid. Tapping a square on the grid triggers a sample, or a prerecorded snippet of one of the keyboard sounds (audio loops are in blue, editable MIDI loops are in green). This is an easy way to demo the sound pack and explore its goodies. In fact, it’s so easy to use Live Loops to build a killer track that you may want to record what you’re doing.
That’s easy — just hit the record button at the top of the screen. But make sure you set the song length to Automatic first, otherwise you’ll only record the default length of eight bars. To adjust the song length, tap the little plus sign just below the wrench, and tap Section A. Then tap the switch to toggle Automatic. I forgot to do this, so I lost my “awesome” jam.
Flex and Flow sound pack: Not just for hip-hop
The Flex and Flow pack is cool for making chilled hip-hop, like its tagline suggests. But it is full of great loops and sounds that can be used across all kinds of musical genres. I could easily see some of the percussion loops being used in soundtrack-style pieces, for instance. In fact, one of the combos of drums, hi-hats and toppers sounds like a slowed-down trap beat. Its staggering, stuttering sounds would work great with a little vibey surf guitar added in.
I love GarageBand for iPad. Despite some shortcomings and bugs, it’s one of Apple’s best iOS apps. And the Sound Library brings new (and so far free) toys to play with, all without having to wait for an app update. Hopefully Apple will open up the Sound Library and turn it into a store where third-party creators can sell their wares.
Download: GarageBand from the App Store (iOS)