GarageBand 10.3: Now Better than Ever

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #284

If you haven’t tried GarageBand, the free audio production software included with every Mac, there’s never been a better time. Last week Apple updated the app to version 10.3 and added more than half a dozen new and useful features.

In the beginning

Before I talk about the new features, let me offer some background: After working in advertising for a few years I decided I wanted to be a record producer instead. I completed a two-year music production course taught by Grammy award winning record producer Bill Lazerus at Evergreen Studios in Burbank, CA.

When I went out to start producing music I was shocked to discover that I couldn’t afford to produce music. Renting a decent recording studio with an engineer cost at least $30 or $40 an hour (and usually more), and this was way back when that was a real lot of money. I considered building my own, but even a modestly equipped studio back then would have cost at least $100,000. While I desperately wanted to make music and knew precisely how to do it, I couldn’t afford it. So, I pivoted and became a writer instead.

Fast-forward to Macworld Expo in January 2004, where Steve Jobs introduced GarageBand. I was in my publisher’s booth minutes later, arguing loudly that nobody was more qualified to write GarageBand For Dummies than yours truly.

After writing GarageBand For Dummies, I was smitten. Apple had created the software equivalent of a fully-equipped recording studio and all I had to add was a microphone, a guitar, and an audio interface. For only a couple of hundred dollars I finally had the software equivalent of a fully-equipped recording studio!

GarageBand 10.3 rocks!

Here’s the good news: A couple of weeks ago, Apple released the most extensive update to GarageBand in recent memory. New features in GarageBand 10.3 include:

  • 2 new Drummers playing Roots and Jazz-influenced brush styles
  • 1,000 new electronic and urban loops covering Reggaeton, Future Bass, and Chill Rap
  • 400 animal, machine, and voice sound effects
  • Play and record using traditional instruments from China and Japan with the Guzheng, Koto, and Taiko drums
  • Updates compatibility with GarageBand for iOS and includes stability improvements and bug fixes
  • Add classic sounds to your song with 5 Vintage Mellotron patches

Free Artists Lessons in GarageBane 10.3

Much as I love those new Mellotron sounds, which are perfect for recreating songs by the Moody Blues and Beatles (to name a few), my favorite new feature has to be free Artist Lessons. They cost $4.99 each before; now they’re free. Each of the 22 lessons offers a popular recording artist showing you how to play their song on piano or guitar. The lessons are well produced and easy to follow, even for fat-fingered guitarists like me.

My only complaint: Two of my favorite lesson artists—Sting and John Fogerty—are no longer available (at any price).

No Sting or Fogarty but still a nice selection for free...
No Sting or Fogarty, but still a nice selection for free…

If you haven’t played around with GarageBand lately, what are you waiting for? If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend choosing Help–>GarageBand at a Glance, where you can explore GarageBand’s tools along with descriptions and tips for using them.

Then, try a guitar or piano lesson. 🙂

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