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Transfer GarageBand Files from iOS to Apple Logic 9

June 21, 2013
Although GarageBand began as an entry-level program for Mac users, its iOS features may astound you.
IMAGINE BEGINNING a studio recording by assembling tracks wherever inspiration strikes you, whether you’re commuting on a train or camping in the backcountry. If you own an iPad or iPhone with GarageBand, that capability is already in your hands. With Logic Express or Logic Pro 9 on your Apple computer, you can begin a project on your iOS device, export it to your Mac, and import it directly into Logic.

Another Garage-Based Startup Aside from sheer portability, why would you want to start a project in iOS? In addition to onboard MIDI and audio recording, GarageBand for iOS offers some very useful capabilities that Logic and GarageBand for the Mac do not—in particular, Jam Sessions and Smart Instruments. With Jam Sessions, you can sync GarageBand on your device with someone else’s using Bluetooth, so that one device records parts played on multiple devices in real time.

Most Smart Instruments present a palette of related chords and a selection of note patterns and individual instruments. Touching a chord launches a repeating pattern, making it quick and easy to record and arrange a song on the fly. With Smart Drums, you can vary the loudness and complexity of a drum track by where you position percussion instruments on a grid. At first blush, working with Smart Instruments may sound contrived, but you’d be surprised how quickly you can throw together tracks that actually sound good.

The Import/Export Business Once you’ve begun creating a song on your iPad or iPhone, press the My Songs button in GarageBand’s upper right corner to save it. You’ll see graphic representations of every GarageBand song stored on your device. By default, your new song will be called “My Song,” but you can change it by touching the title and typing a new one.

Touch the Edit button in the upper-right corner and select the song you want to export. Touch the Share Song icon on the upper left and select Share Song Via iTunes. Choose the GarageBand format and touch Done.

On your computer, select the iOS device in iTunes and sync it to your Mac. Select Apps on the iTunes menu bar, and then scroll to GarageBand in File Sharing on the bottom left and select it. The exported song should appear in the list of GarageBand Documents. Select the song and drag it to a folder on your Mac. To open the song file in Logic Express or Logic Pro, drag it to the Logic icon on your Dock or in your Applications folder. In Logic, save the song file and give it a new name.

After your song is in Logic, you’ll discover all kinds of ways to improve your tracks and add to them. You can even turn MIDI tracks that play software instruments in GarageBand into MIDI tracks that play hardware instruments in Logic. You’ll probably want to re-record any audio you recorded with your iOS device’s onboard mic, but at least you’ll have captured your original inspiration.

Geary Yelton is the former senior editor of Electronic Musician. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

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