How to Use the Live Loops Feature in GarageBand

How to Use the Live Loops Feature in GarageBand

Okay, so I'm not much of a musician (though I did study music in college), and I know I'm not going to create anything very good with GarageBand. But the new Live Loops feature that Apple added a couple weeks ago is fun to play with, even for non-musicians. You really should give it a try, especially since GarageBand is free. Here's a loop I created after opening the new app and playing around with Live Loops for about a half hour and getting a sense for how it works.

To use the Live Loops feature, open the GarageBand app and select Live Loops. You'll see a carousel of different types of music: EDM (electronic dance music), Hip Hop, RnB, and seven more. I selected EDM because it was the first in the carousel. 

This will display a screen full of cells, each offering a different rhythm or melody. Tap on a cell, and it will continue to play until you tap it again. Or if you tap a second cell in the same row, then the first cell will stop playing. You can also swipe across multiple cells to have them start playing at the same time.

In the selection above, I first started a rhythm by swiping down across the first four cells at top left. Then after a few beats, I swiped down across the first two left-most cells below the rhythm cells. After 16 beats, I then swiped down across two cells in the seventh column that were in the same row as the two cells at left.

After alternating between the two themes, I then swiped in the blank spaces all the way to the right of the two music cells that had been playing in order to silence them, and in the same gesture touched the rightmost cell in the row below the two cells that had been playing.

As you can see, as one becomes familiar with the sounds in the various cells, you can quickly make up sequences that go together. And once you have something you like, you can record it. What makes it fun is that you can put together combinations and feel as if you're making music on-the-fly.

You can also simply tap the small up-arrow at the bottom of each column. That will start a whole column playing, and then, in rhythm, you can tap on the up-arrows at the bottom of the other columns to transition between loops.

To save a recording that you make, tap on My Songs at top left. Your song will be saved. To give it a name, tap and hold the name.

To go back to the main interface, tap on the + at the top left corner.

Of course, the app has a ton of features for tweaking your tracks. The FX panel, for example, lets you easily add wobble, reverb, or repeat effects. 

To activate it, tap on "FX" in the toolbar at top. Perhaps the coolest feature in the FX panel is the ability to get different effects by moving your device. To enable this, tap the accelerometer button located in the top left corner fo the Filter pad and top right corner of the Repeater tab.

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Jim Karpen's picture

Author Details

Jim Karpen

Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.