Using the piano roll in Garageband, like other DAWs, is one of the most useful features of using any digital audio interface, mostly because you can draw the notes that you want to use directly in the workspace, without actually playing them.\u00a0\n\n\n\nThis tutorial is going to be more like an encyclopedia for all of the various techniques one can use in the piano roll. \n\n\n\nWithout further ado, let's explore the features of the Piano Roll, including its structure, as well as some of the tactics for putting it to good use.\u00a0\n\n\n\nStructure of the Piano Roll \n\n\n\nThe Piano Roll, essentially, is a bunch of grid-lines and bars that are separated evenly across the Garageband interface. \n\n\n\nAdditionally, these same grid-lines and bars are situated right beside a piano that's laid out across the screen vertically. Each grid-line corresponds to a specific note on the keyboard. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nYou can zoom in and out of the interface to have a closer look at what you're doing, or you can switch it to the score editor, which will layout the notes in actual standard notation, rather than just MIDI notes.\u00a0\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nYou can use the Horizontal Zoom Slider, which will zoom in and out of the interface, or you can use the same option on your trackpad, which means that you're spreading your fingers either apart or closer together on the trackpad. \n\n\n\nIt has the same effect. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nOn the left-hand side of the Piano Roll, you'll notice that you can actually see the notes of the piano. \n\n\n\nEach octave is separated by numbers and letters, including C0, C1, C2, C3, and so on and so forth. These are the octaves on the keyboard.\u00a0\n\n\n\nFor instance, the C3 is typically the Middle C, so keep that in mind. \n\n\n\nYou can actually play each note of the keyboard on the left-hand side to see what it sounds like. The piano roll on the left-hand side of the grid-lines looks like what you can see in the image below: \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe grid-lines are separated into groups of four, and the numerical value of each grid-line changes depending on how you've selected the time signature in the top center of the DAW. \n\n\n\nOn the top-left-hand side of the Piano Roll, you also have at your disposal an automation function that's useful for adjusting the velocity of several different parameters. \n\n\n\nFor instance, you can adjust the velocity or the strength of the notes, or you can adjust the chorus, bass, ambiance, pitch bend, sustain volume, panning, modulation, expression, drive, bell treble, or the reverb.\u00a0\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nOf course, you also have your transposition functions, which means that you can adjust the actual pitch of all the notes automatically just by selecting by how many semi-tones you want to change everything.\u00a0\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nAdditionally, you could use the Quantizer function as well. If you want to read more about the quantizer function and how to use it, I suggest you check out my article at this link here. \n\n\n\nUnfortunately, there are some limitations to using the piano roll in Garageband. \n\n\n\nFor instance, you can't copy and paste the notes into the interface as quickly and as efficiently as FL Studio users can, for instance, for when you want to quickly create snare or hi-hat rolls. \n\n\n\nRegardless, there are many different shortcuts for using the piano roll, and we'll explore some of them here.\u00a0\n\n\n\nTips And Tricks For Using The Piano Roll \n\n\n\n1) Command + Click \n\n\n\nThe (Command + Click) option is how you draw notes right in the piano roll as efficiently and as easily as possible. \n\n\n\nClearly, the method for doing this is quite self-explanatory, you just want to hit the (Command + Click) option, and by click, I mean hitting the trackpad. \n\n\n\nWhat this does, is that it allows you to draw the notes into the Piano Roll very fast. Typically, when I create music with Garageband, I either use the MIDI keyboard, or I play the guitar and create melodies that way. \n\n\n\nHowever, some people like to use the piano roll primarily to actually draw the notes right in the piano roll space. If that's what you like to do, this command is for you. \n\n\n\nThis is also useful for creating things like snare and hi-hat rolls. \n\n\n\nIt's definitely worth mentioning that this is the same way that you add notes in the score editor, in case you want to add them as actual units of standard notation.\u00a0\n\n\n\nTruthfully, most producers don't know how to read music, so this feature isn't mentioned as much, but either way, it is there for you to use in case you do know how to read standard notation.\u00a0\n\n\n\n2) Hit (E) To Bring Up The Piano Roll \n\n\n\nThis one is self-explanatory. The Piano Roll can be selected either by hitting the 'E' on the keyboard or by going up to the top-left-hand side of Garageband's interface and hitting the icon that looks like a pair of scissors. \n\n\n\nIn the case that you need help with some of the symbols and icons, there is the Help button (?) that will allow you to drag the cursor over different aspects of the DAW. \n\n\n\nAs your cursor moves across different functions, a little yellow text box will appear that explains precisely what it does. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n3) Copy and Paste The Notes \n\n\n\nWhen using the MIDI notes in the piano roll, there are a number of things that you can do to save time, including copying and pasting the notes into the piano roll if you want things to repeat. \n\n\n\nFor example, you would just drag a selection box around all of the desired MIDI notes, and then hit the (Command + C) function, and then use the function right after, (Command + V), to paste the notes wherever you want.\n\n\n\nIt's important to note that the notes will be pasted according to the Playhead bar, which is the little bar that moves along with the piano roll as it's playing. \n\n\n\nIn other words, it's the little bar and arrow which looks like what's shown in the image below:\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n4) Select and Extend\/Retract the MIDI Notes \n\n\n\nSimilar to the function above, you can actually make adjustments to every single MIDI Note in the piano roll at once, after selecting all of them together.\n\n\n\nUsing the Select Box - or whatever you want to call it - your trackpad mouse, drag a box around each note, and then extend the length or retract the length of one note, and you'll notice that every single note in the piano roll will extend in the same way. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThis is another useful time-saving feature. \n\n\n\n5) Copy and Paste Using The Playhead Arrow \n\n\n\nThere are a number of ways of doing the same thing in Garageband, with some being more useful in different contexts. \n\n\n\nFor instance, using the playhead arrow, you can copy and paste the notes in such a way where Garageband does it automatically, according to how many MIDI notes you've copied. \n\n\n\nWhat I mean by that, is that you copy a group of notes by using the (Command + C) function, and then you drop the playhead arrow right after that same group of notes. \n\n\n\nFrom here, you hit (Command + V), and then Garageband will automatically copy and paste the notes according to the location of the playhead arrow, and it also moves forward by the number of MIDI notes. \n\n\n\nI understand that what I just said is somewhat of a word salad, so make sure to check out the video below to see what I'm talking about. It's right around the 4:33 mark. \n\n\n\nAnd that's pretty much it for the piano roll. \n\n\n\nYouTube Video Tutorial \n\n\n\n\nhttps:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?v=5caE6HyMABc\n\n\n\n\nConclusion \n\n\n\nUltimately, the piano roll isn't the most sophisticated interface in Garageband, so frankly, there isn't much else to say about it in terms of what can be done with it. \n\n\n\nI can't think of anything else to show you in terms of the piano roll. If I ever come upon additional tips and tricks, I'll make sure that I update this article. \n\n\n\nAs I mentioned above, there are some limitations to the Piano Roll in Garageband, but ultimately, it's very easy to use and for the most part, it has most of the functions that other DAWs have. \n\n\n\nMake sure to do me a favor and share this on social media with your friends.