If you’ve been reading along with half your brain on the book and half on the TV, turn off the TV for a minute. The following discussion may be one of the most important you’ll encounter in your entire GarageBand experience.
Understanding how GarageBand produces music—or, rather, the two ways it can create music—is critically important. It’ll save you hours of frustration and confusion, and make you sound really smart at user-group meetings.
GarageBand is a sort of hybrid piece of music software. It can record and play back music in two different ways, which, once upon a time, required two different music-recording programs. They are:
GarageBand can record, edit, and play back digital audio—sound from a microphone, for example, or sound files you’ve dragged in from your hard drive (AIFF files, MP3 files, unprotected AAC files, or WAV files, for example).
If you’ve spent much time on computers before, you’ve already worked with digital recordings. They’re the error beeps on every Mac, the soundtrack in iMovie, and whatever sounds you record using programs like SimpleSound, Amadeus, and ProTools. The files on a standard music CD are also digital audio files, and so are the ones you can buy at iTunes.com.
Digital recordings occupy a lot of room on your hard drive: 10 MB per minute, to be exact (stereo, CD quality).
Digital recordings are also more or less permanent. GarageBand offers a few rudimentary editing features: you can copy and paste digital audio, ...