The Desktop Muse
Sitting in on the Jam
In last month’s column, I introduced the growing GarageBand community. This month, my column takes on a more personal tone as I discuss my own experiences both with the application and with the various online GB sites.
One Busy Week in February
My adventures with GarageBand began during the first week of February, when my copy of iLife ’04 arrived. I had been intrigued with GB since the Macworld S.F. keynote and couldn’t wait to try it out. Well, only a few hours after installing, I had a complete song on my hands (titled “Espionage” thanks to the inspiration of the “Secret Agent” guitar loop). Creating “Espionage” was such an enjoyable experience that I kept experimenting. Before I realized it, I had two songs, then three, then four, then five. As I kept exploring the loop collection, more and more ideas hit me.
A Song Gives Rise to a CD
Once I had five or six songs (in only about four days), an idea struck me. At the pace I was going, I could make a whole CD in about a week. And I did. When I got to the tenth song, I stopped and calculated the total length: 53 minutes! And I had owned GB for only seven days.
A CD Gives Rise to a Band
The GarageBand preferences include fields for playlist, composer name, and album name. The defaults (e.g., “David Ozab’s Album”) were pretty dull. About this time I decided that my GB venture needed a name. I already have a CD out under my own name, so I decided to make up a virtual band for my GB efforts. I’ve always been fascinated with orthodox icons (I own a couple of small ones), and one in particular I had seen online just recently had stuck with me. It was titled “Synaxis of the Saints of America” and featured a group of Russian saints who lived back when the Russians still owned Alaska. I’m not sure why, but the name immediately struck me as being great for a band. So Synaxis of the Saints of America was born.
A CD Needs the Right Packaging
After mixing down the tracks and selecting the correct order, I had to design the CD package itself (by this point I had decided to go all out). I had CD insert paper (for use in submitting audio portfolios) and templates, and I came up with a design that was simple yet distinctive. And it was all done with fonts. After designing the CD package, I set up a simple Web page using the same artwork. Eventually, the page will grow in complexity, but for now it serves its purpose. With CDs in hand I was ready to go, but how to get the word out?
Getting the Word Out
First, I put up a PayPal link on my new page. This was handy for people who already know where to look (mostly my friends), but what about everybody else? Well, I had just submitted my “serious” CD to CD Baby (an online retailer), so I submitted Synaxis of the Saints of America as well. I also explored the GarageBand online community.
I began by looking at three sites (all of which were mentioned in last month’s column): MacBand, MacJams, and iCompositions. I also investigated MacJukebox, but sadly that site had shut down since last month’s column. (I skipped MacIdol—I just can’t stomach anything even remotely connected to reality TV.) I posted two songs on each: the aforementioned “Espionage” and “Julia’s Song” (these tracks are also posted on the Web site). Both tracks were well received on all three sites, but I only received comments on iCompositions. I also exchanged a series of interesting messages (iCompositions also includes private messaging) with a singer-songwriter named Rhonie, who is definitely worth checking out. I have since uploaded two more songs (“The Navigator” and “Triple Double”), which are only available through iCompositions.
Well, I plan on uploading one or two more songs, and I may enter a song contest, too. And I have another CD completed. This one took a little longer (a month instead of a week) and includes loops from Apple’s Jam Pack as well as two other loop sets I found online (from Access and Bitshift). I’m keeping this new CD under wraps for a little while longer, though, so that the first one can gain some attention.
Also in This Series
- Robert Moog: A Tribute · September 2005
- Convergence · February 2005
- Getting More Out of Your GarageBand Loops · December 2004
- This Song Belongs to You and Me · September 2004
- Sitting in on the Jam · April 2004
- The World’s Biggest Jam Session · March 2004
- The New iMac: Where Does it Fit in? · December 2003
- A New Computer, a New Column, a New Life · November 2003
- Complete Archive