In days bygone, if you were an aspiring rock star who decided to form a band, you first needed a garage. Where else would you put your band members and their loud instruments? Sound proofing that garage was always a good idea, unless you wanted the neighbors knocking on your family’s door to tell your dad that you and your friends-with-weird-hair were too loud (or worse, that there is some devil-worshipping going on in the garage).
Well, those were the old days. Today a GarageBand can neatly fit into you computer, complete with thousands of drum beats, guitar riffs, strings, organs and other traditional or electronic instrument sounds.
In my “old days” my friend and I had a “band”, or rather an “electronic music duo”. That was back in the late 80’s. We didn’t need a garage, as we didn’t need a real drummer or a guitarist. Even back then we were computer freaks, but we still needed to go to a recording studio to be able to get our compositions onto professional tape. We had to shell out JD 15 an hour for that kind of activity. Pity the kids of that era!
Today, Apple’s GarageBand, not only allows you to compose music and combine it with thousands of prerecorded loops of studio-quality sound, but it also doubles as a digital recoding studio, allowing you to record the sound of tradition instruments and even add various effects (such as reverb, echo, etc) to your tracks.
Apple has recently decided to go on all-out offensive to capture the market of amateur music creators, just as it captured a lot of digital home movie makers with its iMovie and iDVD products.
The best thing about all of this is that GarageBand comes free with every new Apple Macintosh as part of its iLife suite of products. Alongside GarageBand, iMovie and iDVD, the iLife suite also feature iTunes (to manage your digital music library) and iPhoto, now capable of managing tens of thousands of digital photos.
While digital music professionals already have software packages that are far more sophisticated than GarageBand, the product is pretty impressive and user friendly. It’s at its best when you connect a MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) compatible keyboard to your Mac, effectively turning you computer into a pretty sophisticated electronic musical instruments which, just a few years ago, would have cost thousands of JDs.
And if you think that computers are only good for making techno music, think again. GarageBand allows you to connect your good old electric guitar and pump up its sound with a simulation of various guitar amp simulators. This will not instantly make you Jimmy Hendrix, but it still allows you to explore different electric guitar playing styles.
Putting that kind of musical creation tool in the hands of many enthusiasts will undoubtedly change the musical landscape in the near future. Some of the kids who might use GarageBand today will “graduate” to using more specialized tools. Apple has been transforming itself over the years into a digital media creation tool powerhouse. Some of the products we see coming out of the company today is a result of its acquisition of companies such as Emagic, makers of the famous Logic range of music software. So Apple is ready for you once you move from a GarageBand musician to a pro musician.