Garageband offers you a free pitch correction tool that makes it easy to record vocals that are in tune with your music. To master pitch correction, you will need to understand key signatures and know how to sing in the correct key/scale for your song.
The first step before getting to the pitch correction plugin is to create a project in Garageband and assign the correct key signature to the song you will be recording. The project details including the time signature and the key of the song can be found at the top of the project. Be sure that the screen you are showing is the "Beats and Project" screen.
The default key that is provided is C major. If you're lucky, your song is also in the key of C major or A minor and will not need any project adjustments. If not, find the song key in which you will be singing. If you are unable to find it and need to get it from the song itself, you can use the tuner feature to sing the tonic note in the song. The tuner feature will then show you what note you are singing.
Be sure to note the difference between major and minor keys. A song for example in A minor is the same scale as a song in C major. A song in C minor is the same scale as a song in E flat major. Garageband allows you to choose a major or minor key, but I like to choose the relative major to get the best results from their pitch correction tool. Below is a circle of 5ths graph of each major key and its relative minor key.
Now you are all set up in the right key and can limit yourself to all the right notes. The next step you will want to take is to start recording your vocals on a new track. Once you have the vocal file recorded, you will need to double-click the recorded vocal waveform in order for the pitch correction option to pop up at the bottom of the screen to the left.
You will want to check the "limit to key" option and the enable flex option for the best results but feel free to play around with these to your liking. The Enable Flex feature allows you to play around with the waveform itself to edit each note that is sung.
Sometimes, the free plugin just doesn't do the job for me and my vocal projects. Often times my vibrato is hard to detect and needs a few manual edits that I can't really do with the flex tool, so I use a 3rd party pitch correction tool. There are many available plugins that can work with Garageband, but my pitch correction plugin of choice is Waves Tune.
Waves Tune is a very advanced pitch correction tool that allows you to edit the pitches manually in a variety of different methods including dragging the notes, drawing the correct pitch, and much more. Many times I don't even need to edit what is given as long as I put the right key settings into the plugin in a similar way that I did with the entire song project.
The only downside to this tool is that sometimes it's working a bit too hard and I hear some distortion in my vocals like little clicks and pops. On a rare occasion, I'm so off-key that it can't save the note without making me sound like a robot, but I like to think that it's more of my mistake than a mistake of the program.
The best thing to do is work on your own intonation without relying too heavily on programs and plugins. It's also good to remember that all notes don't need to be perfectly in key. There's beauty in slight flaws when it comes to music.
If you are struggling with figuring out pitches and hearing the right key, consider enrolling in a beginner or basic music theory course or picking up a self-help book to help you understand the technical concepts behind music.
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As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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