Garageband 2 for Mac OS X: Visual Quickstart Guide
Posted: 8-Jul-2005

Mac Guild Grade

Publisher: Peachpit Press


Reviewer: Robert Hanno $19.95

Garageband 2 for Mac OS X: Visual Quickstart Guide
By: Victor Gavenda
ISBN: 0321335449
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Publish date: April 2005
Pages: 311
Cover Price: $19.95

What the Book is About
This is a thorough and relatively exhaustive survey of Apple's Garageband 2 (part of iLife '05). Each and every feature of this entry-level music-creation product is explored and reported upon at length. The user is treated to a roadmap of the settings, interfaces, instruments and behaviors that are used in the application.

Target Audience
Musical aptitude is not a prerequisite and familiarity with music software is not required to take advantage of Gavenda's guidance. The beginner is moved through unfamiliar territory and on to intermediate level acquaintance with Garageband and emerges ready for a MIDI interface, composition lessons, and maybe, pocketbook willing, Logic Express.

What To Expect
Gavenda authored Garageband: For MAC OS X, so he's seen the evolution of the product and he lauds the improvements, laments the features lost (though there seem to be few of these), and points out the features that he'd like to see. The Visual Quickstart style consists of two columns per page, with one column containing text instruction and the other containing step-by-step screenshots for performing each activity. At first glance, this may seem a wasteful use of paper, but this is actually a very effective style. No user is left in the lurch wondering how to get from A to B, or how to undo a misstep.

Basic interface and controls are introduced so that a relatively complex tool quickly becomes familiar. A picture is provided for every setting and every step in the process. Ample tips and background enable a more efficient use of trial-and-error.

A discussion of hardware for recording and interfacing with suggestions and directions for creating a recording setup occupies one chapter. Maybe there's some use for that old MIDI keyboard afterall.

Half of the book is dedicated to "Polishing Your Songs", and this is where Gavenda's experience, both technical and musical, are brought to bear. While the intrepid user will discover the documented features on their own, and sometimes even the undocumented features, the advanced editing and effects sections of this book serve to prod the timid and reassure the more gregarious user.

References to additional resources (free and otherwise) scattered throughout the book enhance the value of the book and allow one to extend Garageband's abilities through plug-ins, additional loops, and other software and hardware. The "Polishing Your Songs" half of the book which steps the user through editing software instruments and utilizing every Garageband widget and doodad to produce a better composition was worth the price of the book alone.

While much of this book could fall under the category of "tips", there are actual tip sections scattered throughout the book that I found very useful. These tips serve to give the Garageband user extra help in understanding the more confusing and complex interactions within the software.

Mac Guild Grade
A (Outstanding)

Final Words
While Gavenda's guide may not make you the next Beethoven (or even Chris Martin), it does provide an extremely thorough introduction to the Garageband 2 application. Even the musically-handicapped (and technically-handicapped) will be able to move beyond reliance on "factory" loops and on to editing, keyboarding (of one sort or another), applying effects and generally producing the music we were all meant to produce.