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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Surf Musician »

Permalink Using Garageband to Slow Down songs you're learning

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Like probably just about everyone here trying to learn songs, I spent quite a bit of time looking at options to slow down songs I'm trying to learn (& retain pitch.) At least a dozen ways to skin that cat. Finally, I got curious about Garageband - figured surely there is a way to do it there, right?

Well, yes. Yes there is. Wasn't the most intuitive, but after some time looking high/low, I found enough information to figure out how to do it. Figured I'd spread the word!

Disclaimer - this is about the only thing I now know how to do in Garageband. There are probably other ways to achieve this in an even better way. There may also be variations depending on what version of OS X you have or which "year" of Garageband you have. Sorry, I'm not going to be of much help with those. Hopefully the process is similar enough that what I'll share below would still be possible.

Oh yeah, these steps assume you've already got the song in your iTunes library.

Lastly - I think it'd be useful to understand what you're doing when you take this approach; basically, you are creating a master track that isn't the song you want to learn. You're not actually playing anything from that track, but using it so that your song (an additional / 2nd track) can be forced to follow to the master track tempo. You need to create this parent/child relationship because I don't see any other way to simply adjust tempo & retain pitch of the imported song into Garageband.

So without any more yammering on like a monkey, I give you a few simple steps on how to use Garageband to slow down tempo, retaining pitch, so you can learn that killer tune you've been trying to figure out.

Step one… pick a project mode to get into the mixer. Don't think it really matters what you choose - again, it's just to set / adjust tempo- not actually play anything. I've used Piano, Guitar, and Loops all the same. Just pick one.

image

Step two… save your project with whatever you want to call it (this is an automated / forced step from Garageband)

image

Step three… add the first track. I've used Piano here, but I don't think it matters really.

image

Step four… click the far left of the first track, giving it a star, making it the Master Track. Remember, this is critical - you can adjust tempo & pitch on this track, but not the actual song. You will tweak the song track to force it to follow the tempo & pitch changes you make to the Master track.

image

Step five… way down in the bottom right corner, click the media browser icon. At this time the far right panel shows the songs you have in your iTunes library. Simply click and drag the song you want to work on and drop it at whatever measure spot you want.

image

Notice that when you do this, the track appears in Orange. I don't know why, but if you don't take the next step, you cannot make the song tempo (or pitch) follow the Master track.

image

Step six… press Control + Option + G then click on the orange song track. Prest-O Change-O! It's now encoded to allow you to make it follow the master track tempo. You'll know that's true 'cause it's now purple.

image

Step seven… way down in the bottom left corner is the scissor looking icon - that's the show/hide track editor button. Click that to bring up the bottom panel as shown here. You'll then need to check the box to make this track "Follow Tempo & Pitch"

image

Step eight… technically the last step you have to take. Back to the way bottom right, click the middle button ( letter i in a circle) - thats the show/hide Track Info button. Then click the Master Track tab way up there in the top right corner. Taaa-Daaa! You'll see the tempo slider! Adjust tempo and play away ( Headbang ). In my experience, the pitch is already retained, so nothing to monkey with there… granted you can tweak it if you really wanted to.

image

Optional stuff that may also be useful:

In the Control pull down menu, select "Show Tempo in LCD" that gives another more visible indication of the tempo in the bottom of the Garageband window.

image

You can also mute the Master track… again, you've not programmed anything for it to play, so technically it's silent, but for you really anal types out there (like me!), it's there on the top left.

And lastly, not sure why anyone would, but you can mute out the Metronome click sound by clicking the icon down there next to the info window. Seems to me that's a critical part about getting the vibe right (not just the notes)… understanding where each bit sits in the count.

image

So there you have it. A "free" built in slowdowner app for anyone who already has a Mac with Garageband. Hope you find this as useful as I did (at least useful enough to do these screen shots and write it up!)

fady

Last edited: May 26, 2012 13:28:08

Hello Onslow Beach,

Did you know that you can control the speed of Windows Media Player. I am working on Blue Mountain (the Denvermen) this evening. So I set the playback speed to 50%. It slows the song down but does not seem to alter the pitch.

Talk to you later,
Norm

Thanks for the post, some songs are tough to work out properly, I use Cubase, can slow up to 25%(can make backing tracks on Cubase too, playing along with the original songs is good but I like a backing track to play over as well to learn to fill the song with all the subtle guitar parts - then play the song with the band once I know it) Cool

'Surf Music Lasts Forever'

VLC media player does this easily (retaining pitch), with the + and - keys. Also has some options to define a looping section. It's a very useful, light and powerful player.

Ariel


A single, double, triple, quadruple song

There's a program called 'The Amazing Slow Downer' that works really well and is very easy to use. There's a free version too:
http://www.ronimusic.com/amsldowin.htm

http://reverbnation.com/thecoffindaggers
https://www.facebook.com/coffindagger
http://coffindaggers.com/
http://thecoffindaggers.bandcamp.com

Try RiffMaster Pro. It's $4.95 for your iphone or ipad. Runs on MAC or PC too

http://riffmasterpro.com/

Last edited: May 29, 2012 19:13:34

audacity do this too

++1 on ASD
I think Audacity is a bit awkward for this purpose.

I started figuring out songs some time ago by mechanically slowing down my turntable, (where's that facepalm/toil icon ?) since i finally was able to switch to computers and softs. Tried a bunch of slowdowners since then, as i really was into learning songs more than going originals.
I wish i had that kinda stuff when i started figuring out songs for the bands i was in. (there was not that much tabs and songbooks by the time)
IMO: Amazing Slow Downer is the BEST soft you can currently find if you're really into figuring out/learning songs.
This one features equalazation to focus on the part you want to enlighten, it's possible to finely raise or lower the pitch of the song (very useful on a few of these uncanny tuned first wave songs) ,as well as to have a part played in a loop...
Well, ASD is not free but definetly worth the few bucks.

Fady, this is a great tutorial you are posting, though i'm not running the mac, i think this can be really useful for a lot of players wishing to learn songs.
101, Hey ?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Last edited: May 31, 2012 15:56:42

Thanks for taking the time to post the tutorial with pics, no less.

I've been using Audacity to slow down songs and parts of songs and looping for a couple of years now. Audacity 2.0 is available, but I haven't used it yet.

Cats 'n' Strats, 'cause that's how I roll - I eat reverb for breakfast!

Fenderus Collecticus
Strat Blender Pot Modification HERE

Didn't plan on this turning into a list of similar solutions, but hey - it's all good!

I'm a bit of an ol' coot when it comes to installing "free" software on my computers... I'm sure no one has had issues with Audacity (as an example), but I figured why bother if a preinstalled app could do the trick - nothing more to install, nothing more to buy.

Oh, I've since figured out that little oval "looping" icon in the bottom of the last screen shot makes it easy enough to click/drag select sections to loop - a real valuable function many of you have pointed out in all the alternatives too.

Anywho, call me happy if this has helped some folks along the way.

Thumbs Up

fady

TFT Onslow Beach. I use garbageband quite a bit for sampling sounds and songwriting, but even tho I've had macs with various versions of gb since 2004, I've still never learned even half of what I probably would want to know. Where'd you learn all this stuff anyhow?

He who dies with the most tubes... wins

Surf Daddies

Just reading a related comment in another thread by Mike (Morphball) who uses Audacity to slow down. Knowing how hard he works on songs I almost feel sorry for him because Audacity isn't the easiest slow-downer(IMO).

Here's my tip and it won't cost you a bean! http://bestpractice.sourceforge.net/

It starts to get a little choppy at speeds lower than 45% but it is still a very usable and friendly software.

image

Malc

crumble wrote:

Just reading a related comment in another thread by Mike (Morphball) who uses Audacity to slow down. Knowing how hard he works on songs I almost feel sorry for him because Audacity isn't the easiest slow-downer(IMO).

Audacity isn't pretty, but it doesn't really take an engineering degree to learn how to slow down the tempo in it... I can also do the pitch adjustment thing (I use it not only for those odd tunes that aren't in std E, but to hear what songs sound like in baritone), plus I can do my recording and mixing in it. (If I spent some time figuring out the frequency limiting tools, I probably wouldn't need to do backing tracks in JamVox either.) There's tons of free plugins that make it do way more too, but at that point, you probably want something professional. Pretty powerful for a freebie though.

Mike
http://www.youtube.com/morphballio

morphball wrote:

crumble wrote:

Just reading a related comment in another thread by Mike (Morphball) who uses Audacity to slow down. Knowing how hard he works on songs I almost feel sorry for him because Audacity isn't the easiest slow-downer(IMO).

Audacity isn't pretty, but it doesn't really take an engineering degree to learn how to slow down the tempo in it... I can also do the pitch adjustment thing (I use it not only for those odd tunes that aren't in std E, but to hear what songs sound like in baritone), plus I can do my recording and mixing in it. (If I spent some time figuring out the frequency limiting tools, I probably wouldn't need to do backing tracks in JamVox either.) There's tons of free plugins that make it do way more too, but at that point, you probably want something professional. Pretty powerful for a freebie though.

Hope I didn't come over too pompous! Smile
For anyone else all I can say is, it took me a month of Sundays to find this little beauty. It really is worth a shot!

Malc

I use Best Practice as well. I also have JamUp on my iPhone. It has a practice program as well. Little easier, as it will access iTunes material directly.

Will

"You're done, once you're a surfer you're done. You're in. It's like the mob or something. You're not getting out." - Kelly Slater

The Hula Dragons

Onslow_Beach wrote:

I'm a bit of an ol' coot when it comes to installing "free" software on my computers... I'm sure no one has had issues with Audacity (as an example), but I figured why bother if a preinstalled app could do the trick - nothing more to install, nothing more to buy.

Audacity and VLC are very small, efficient programs. I uninstalled Garageband as it was taking up so much space, and was overly complicated for what I need. Audacity and VLC are pretty much all you need, I think, if you're working with live instruments.

www.thewaterboarders.net
http://thewaterboarders.bandcamp.com/

Last edited: Aug 16, 2013 07:55:48

da-ron wrote:

Onslow_Beach wrote:

I'm a bit of an ol' coot when it comes to installing "free" software on my computers... I'm sure no one has had issues with Audacity (as an example), but I figured why bother if a preinstalled app could do the trick - nothing more to install, nothing more to buy.

Audacity and VLC are very small, efficient programs. I uninstalled Garageband as it was taking up so much space, and was overly complicated for what I need. Audacity and VLC are pretty much all you need, I think, if you're working with live instruments.

Slow-downers are not all equal in performance. *I believe digital audio is constructed in slices which have gaps between them, when you slow down those gaps become gapping canyons. It's the smoothing anti-aliasing algorithm with allows you to hear with clarity and that you have to pay for. I'm ashamed to say I've been spoilt with an old hacked copy of the Amazing Slowdowner for a little while, I wanted a clean OS so I deleted it and considered buying it until I saw the price! I tried Audacity's slow-down plug-in and was staggered how bad it was. Don't get me wrong i'm sure it is fine for general use.

Disclaimer: I know nothing about digital audio, if my analogy of it's workings offend anyone please hand me in to the nearest audio police station.

Malc

Last edited: Aug 16, 2013 11:03:43

I tried Audacity's slow-down plug-in and was staggered how bad it was. Don't get me wrong i'm sure it is fine for general use.

Hmmm, this may be true, Audacity can get a bit 'buzzy' if you slow it down too much. It's not really been a problem yet - and I like the way you can export the slowed down version to other devices.. Maybe I should try a quality slow down piece of software and finally crack "Bells of St Kahuna"!

www.thewaterboarders.net
http://thewaterboarders.bandcamp.com/

Last edited: Aug 16, 2013 10:03:45

There's a great program called Transcribe that does this too.

The Grinning Man
The Grinning Man on Facebook
Debut EP available!

crumble wrote:

Hope I didn't come over too pompous! Smile

Nope! I appreciate the suggestion- I'm going to try out the PC trial version and see what the hubbub is about.

Mike
http://www.youtube.com/morphballio

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