Building a Soundtrack in GarageBand 3
– Adding Music

This is the third in a series of tutorials on Building a Soundtrack in GarageBand

Place Some Music

Now let's place some music into your project. Start by:

  • opening the Loop Browser (Control/Show Loop Browser, or click the eye icon),
  • navigating to the columns view window within that browser by clicking the column icon on the left.

If you're selecting from a music loop collection, you can limit your search to minor or major keys by opening the dropdown menu beside the word "Scale" at the top of the browser. Also, be sure to include or exclude any audio collections in your search by opening the Loops Collections drop down menu also located at the top of the browser.

If you've already found music you like from the Jingles folder and checked the Favorites box at the end of those audio clips, then you can find them together in a Favorites folder:

  • click "Favorites" in the first column,
  • click "All Effects" in the middle column and
  • click "All Effects" in the far right column.

Your favorites items should appear in a list below. Click on one of the audio clips to begin playing it.

Open Movie Markers Window

Next, open the Movie Markers window - (First highlight the Movie Track Header at the top of the Tracks column on the left of the GarageBand window, then click Control/Show Editor, or press the scissor icon).

If you've placed your markers (as described in the Adding SFX tutorial), begin by dragging your first music selection onto the Tracks window and matching the beginning of the track to the marker.
Do this by dragging it into the empty space below the existing tracks. GarageBand will create a track for you and label it in the header. You can always rename it.

True Music Loops

Although any audio can be looped, true music loops are dealt with a bit differently from jingles and sfx. They are categorized as either audio files - which are blue, or as MIDI files - which are green. MIDI loops are created using the software instruments in GarageBand's extensive instrument library. In these files, individual notes can be edited. We'll discuss that in the Editing A MIDI File tutorial.

You can create a new audio track from the menu by clicking on Track/New Track and then selecting the real instrument option (which is just like a basic track) or the electric guitar option - which will load a track with one of GarageBand's guitar amp setups already installed.

You can create a new software instrument track from the menu by clicking on Track/New Track and choosing the software instrument option. The default instrument is a piano, but you can replace it with something from GarageBand's instrument library in the Instrument Browser.

Dragging Clips Onto Tracks

All clips can be dragged onto pre-existing tracks. - Blue audio clips need to go on blue audio tracks but green MIDI clips can go onto either green software instrument tracks or onto blue audio tracks. If you drag them onto software instrument tracks, GarageBand will load the software instrument required to play the MIDI data. If you load them onto a blue audio track, GarageBand will turn the MIDI data into audio. Then it will respond just like any other audio.

You can also drag other audio clips into GarageBand from the Media Browser (Control/Show Media Browser, or by clicking the music note icon) or from the Finder (as long as GarageBand recognizes the file type).


Tutorials one and two covered Setting Up Your Interface and Adding SFX. We discovered how to access the various GarageBand windows and browsers and how to search for audio.

Now that you've got some audio loaded onto tracks, you'll probably want to edit it in some way, so let's proceed to our next tutorial: Editing An Audio File.