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After issuing add-on GarageBand loop packs based on instrument, percussion, orchestral, electronic, and world sounds, Apple believes it’s time to visit humankind’s first instrument—the human voice.
It did so by releasing Voices, the fifth collection in its $99-per-Jam Pack series. Voices is made up of over 1,500 loops, composed mainly of digital audio recordings (termed Real Instruments in GarageBand). These recordings are of real singers, both solo and in ensembles, offering up everything from melodic snippets to background oohs, shout-outs, improvisations, and even short passages from classical choral works. The loops include such styles as hip-hop, modern pop, country, alt rock, soul, blue, and classical. The less abundant Software Instruments focus on choirs.
The included sounds favor current pop vocal standards. If you’re looking for a reedy chanteuse à la Avril Lavigne, you’ll find examples here. You’ll also find a share of the melismatic, over-soul style of singing as popularized by the likes of Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey.
This collection will be a great match for certain kinds of music, and inappropriate for others. For example, there’s enough material in here to assemble a couple of hip-hop albums by simply piecing together loops and backing them up with GarageBand beats. Gluing together a coherent background vocal over chord changes will be challenging, however. The loops offered to you are designed to work best near the root of the key you choose when you first create the song—C, for example. If you need the background vocalists to deliver a chord several steps away from that key—F major, for example—you’ll have to transpose a loop up or down, creating a chipmunk-like or too-deep tone.
[ Senior Editor Christopher Breen is the author of The iPod and iTunes Pocket Guide, second edition (Peachpit Press, 2007). ]