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GarageBand

Posted on Friday, March 4th, 2011

Dave!As I've said a couple of times now, I have no use for an iPad. My iPhone and MacBook do everything I need, and an iPad would just be one more thing to carry. Sure I bought one. I kinda had to. I'm an iOS developer and needed to update app graphics for some of my clients so they work on iPad. But after I was done, I gave it to my mom. She loves it. For her, it is truly a "Magical and Revolutionary New Device," just as Apple said.

Except...

I recently started composing music again.

I used to write quite a bit of music when I was in video production. It saved me lots of time over collaborating with a REAL musician, which meant I could move on to my next project faster. Alas, eventually digital editing tools came along that made my kind of video work redundant. I stopped doing video projects, which meant I stopped making music as well.

But recently I got bit by the music bug again, and have been using Apple's "SoundTrack" and "Garage Band" apps to bang out some tunes on my Mac with an old keyboard I have. It's far from an ideal solution. I have to "fake" instruments like guitars, drums, brass, and woodwinds by "playing" them on the keyboard or using pre-made loops because I can't play them very well in real life. I can play keyboard decently. Electronic drums I'm okay at. I have played bass guitar a few times and can manage. Barely. Sax and clarinet I used to play well, but suck at now. Given my menial musical talent, I don't have much choice but to faux compose on a computer. But I manage and it works.

And then I saw Apple's "iPad2 Event" and nearly crapped my pants.

They demoed the new iPad Garage Band app, and it's jaw-dropping amazing. I'd go so far as to say "fucking astounding," but I don't want to oversell things here.

Except it really is fucking astounding...

Steve Jobs Introduces Garage Band for iPad!

For $4.99 (FOUR DOLLARS AND NINETY-NINE CENTS!) you get such a jaw-dropping array of musical tools with such unprecedented interactivity and functionality that you would have to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on real life instruments and gear to even get even close to what Apple is offering. But they don't stop there. For instruments you might not play very well, they include "smart instruments" which assist you in working with them. PLUS an amp with stompboxes (for incorporating real guitars) AND a frickin' eight-track recording studio...

Garage Band App Screens

The most amazing part is how much thought went into it. It's like Garage Band was designed by actual musicians who would know what's needed to make an app like this useful. Like using the iPad's accelerometer to sense how hard you're tapping a piano key or a drum. Like using iPad's multi-touch surface to do things you couldn't even do with a real instrument. Like including properties of actual instruments so their virtual counterparts play as expected (chord dampening!).

For the music hobbyist who wants access to a "home studio" full of instruments and multi-track recording equipment (like me!) the iPad is more than a frickin' bargain... It's almost free. $500 for the hardware plus $5 for a crap-load of exceptional instruments AND a recording studio? I mean, holy shit. How can I NOT want an iPad now?

It's like the Mac version is just a clutzy imitator, and THIS is was what Garage Band was meant to be all along.

Of course, me talking about it can't possibly explain just how wonderful the app is. If you're an amateur musician... or even somebody who just likes the idea of giving music a try, you owe it to yourself to watch the Apple keynote video here (the Garage Band stuff starts at 47:30).

   

Steve Jobs Introduces Garage Band for iPad!

As for the iPad2 itself? It's nice. It finally includes the front-facing FaceTime camera THAT IT SHOULD HAVE HAD ALL ALONG. There's other good new stuff too, and the bump in speed and graphics will make more complex apps function better (as well as opening the door for even more incredible stuff in the future). But the miraculous thing about the iPad is not its specs. It's the extraordinary experience of using one that gives Apple the edge. This is something that competitors simply don't seem to understand. It doesn't matter if you have a tablet with a faster processor or more memory or more ports than iPad... you're not going to make a superior experience to iPad in hardware alone. It's the tight integration of hardware to software when married to truly brilliant apps like GarageBand that makes an iPad an iPad.

It's almost frightening to think of where Apple maight take us next.

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Categories: Apple Stuff 2011, Music 2011Click To It: Permalink
   

Comments

  1. bo says:

    See and I’m on the fence about it. You’re absolutely right about everything you’ve said, but I’ve haven’t seen much detail about plugging in actual instruments. I read that there’s an adapter for guitars, so presumably it’s a 1/4-inch thing. But what about my mikes? And do I only get eight tracks? (Maybe that sounds greedy but even analog eight-tracks give me the chance to bounce tracks so I can have more room to work.) And why the hell, if you’re going to make GarageBand a selling point, didn’t Apple include a USB port? If they had I could use M-Audio’s excellent products to connect my instruments to it.

    I’m waiting to see. I’ll admit that for the first time I’m seriously considering buying one, but only because I can maybe record my music for $505 instead of $1000 for a Mac. But I need to know more, so like most things Mac I’ll wait until the product has been out there for a while before I make my choice.

    But it IS exciting, I’ll say that.

    And I would love to hear your tunes some time.

  2. Lynne says:

    I’m guessing you’re on you way to the nearest Apple store to buy iPad 2? Well, have fun!

  3. martymankins says:

    I’m just toying around with music stuff and have used GarageBand on the Mac many times to do some simple jingles and sound loops. But I too was blown away by the GarageBand for iPad in the keynote the other day.

    Amazing stuff. And for only $5. Apple will sell tons of this app.

    And I think I’ll be upgrading my wonderful iPad to the new iPad 2.

  4. Invader_Stu says:

    I’m still trying to convince my wife that despite having an iphone and a laptop I really really need an ipad.

  5. Lisa says:

    I still can’t find a legitimate reason I “need” an iPad, other than my own MacWhore status that is, but they sure are pretty. Still, I covet them from afar.

  6. apricoco says:

    I’ve been thinking of splurging based on GarageBand. I am starting to explore Movietelling with my writing and being able to compose my own music would be a big boon. Especially since I can’t play ANY instruments at all as it is now.

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