GarageBand ’09 won’t be out until later in January, along with the rest of the iLife ’09 suite. But we’ve done some digging to find out more about the new version of iLife’s music component—some of which comes from the keynote, and some of which may be new to you.
Learn to play
The focus of Tuesday’s presentation was the music instruction aspect of the new, still-in-beta version of GarageBand. As demonstrated by Mr. Schiller, GarageBand includes guitar and keyboard lessons, and these lessons are offered in two components—Basic Lessons and Artist Lessons. As the name implies, the first offers instruction on the basics of playing that instrument—learning where particular notes are, forming chords, and playing rhythms, for example. The latter are music lessons that include an artist who teaches you how to play both the simple and advanced version of a song they’ve made famous (Sting showing you what chords to use with “Roxanne,” for example).
You also have the opportunity to mix what you hear. For example, you can listen to only the instrument without the instructor’s voice. Additionally, in an Artist Lesson, you can mute the band or mix the volume levels of the individual instruments.
Lessons aren’t all that’s new to GarageBand ’09. To begin with, the interface has been reworked so it’s less cluttered. The Loop Browser no longer appears at the bottom of the GarageBand window; instead, it’s incorporated in the pane to the right that you can expose or hide. The effects area is now more graphically rich and the overall color scheme is along the lines of Apple’s Aperture and Logic—gray rather than the old black text on a white background.
GarageBand ’09 also emphasizes the program’s ability to model guitar amplifiers and effects. Although you could select different amplifier models in previous versions of GarageBand, the means for doing so wasn’t nearly as intuitive as it is in GarageBand ’09. With an interface element reminiscent of Magic GarageBand, you choose from among five amp models—amps similar to the tones you’d get from amps made by Fender, Marshall, and Vox. After you’ve selected an amp you can adjust its parameters—volume, tone, and on-board effects such as spring reverb—with controls that look like the knobs found on the original amp.
The Magic continues
Finally, GarageBand ’09 bears an enhanced version of Magic GarageBand, the feature that lets you play along with a virtual band. In this version of GarageBand not only can you jam with the band as you could in the past, but you can now also record your performance. In addition you can mix the levels of the various instruments that appear in the band.
More to come
As noted above, GarageBand ’09 and its iLife compatriots will be released at the end of January. We’ll have more details about the updated version once it arrives.
[Christoper Breen is a Macworld senior editor and musician.]
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