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How to Make Your Tracks Stand Out With Automation in GarageBand

Author: Bradley White | Published: 03/04/2018

What is Automation?

Automation has become a necessity for many electronic producers, making it easy to create a sense of evolution and movement in their music and really keep the listener’s attention. But what exactly is automation? Essentially, automation allows you to map out where in your track you want different parameters to change. A pretty standard example would be automating the volume of an instrument track so that it gradually fades in rather than suddenly coming in at full volume.

GarageBand Automation on iOS on an iPad

Many DAWs have the ability to automate almost anything you want to create cool effects and variations throughout your tracks. However, with GarageBand on iOS, the only parameter that we can automate is the volume of each track - which is somewhat limiting. But even so, we’re able to create a whole host of interesting effects with just volume automation.

How to use Automation in GarageBand

Accessing the automation is fairly straightforward. Just tap on one of your track headers on the left and a small menu will pop up. Select automation and you’ll then be able to draw in the automation points you want on any of the tracks shown to increase or decrease the volume. The video below demonstrates how volume automation can be used to bring a track in gradually.

Thinking Outside of the Box

The volume automation also lends itself to some more creative applications, for example in the video below we use GarageBand’s volume automation to create that ‘pumping’ effect that’s prevalent in almost every genre of electronic music. Normally, producers achieve this effect by using a technique called sidechain compression, however, there are no sidechaining options within GarageBand but we can create a very similar effect with volume automation.

As you can see, use automation in GarageBand can be extremely useful and even though GarageBand's automation options may not be the most flexible, using it in creative ways can really help your music to stand out. If you want to take your GarageBand skills to the next level then check out our guide to using AUv3 apps in GarageBand.

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