I like a bit of challenge, so I’m composing my first movie score. It might be just a two-minute film of frost-covered plants in our back garden, but it’s taken me several hours at the keyboard and computer so far!

It was an article in the latest copy of iCreate magazine that got me started; they demonstrate how easy it is to drop your movie into Garageband, Apple’s music-creation software. I plugged in my midi-keyboard, set the film going and played the simplest of chords as carefully as I could.

Just how difficult can it be to compose a snippet of wintery background music?

You Know the Score

Garageband score
The curly-topped ‘7’ symbol represents a pause – musically a rest – of one crochet’s length. A crochet is a quarter note but the dot after it means that I paused for slightly longer.

You can watch the score appearing as you play, which is astonishing, but, as you’d expect with my shaky hands, it does end up looking rather messy, with my pauses there for all to see, marked with dots and squiggles. In the stave above, the hash mark reveals that I accidentally hit one of the black notes, F sharp (this is the lower, bass clef, normally played with the left hand).

On a Roll


This is where Garageband comes to the rescue: having mapped out a sketchy version of my idea on the keyboard, I can switch from the intimidatingly professional-looking Score view to what they call the Piano Roll. This gives a visual representation of the notes that I hit, which I’m much more at home with.

I can see where I’ve failed to hit all three notes of a chord simultaneously but it’s easy to click the offending note with a mouse and adjust its length, so that it’s perfectly synchronised. I don’t mind the playing being slightly ragged, but I definitely need to be more consistent in hitting the beat, which is indicated by the bolder vertical lines on the graph. I’ve got a lot of clicking and dragging to do to get this score into shape.

Back in Score view, can see that I’m clomping across from one bar to another, without any sense of the four-beats-to-a-bar rhythm that I’m supposedly playing in. I’m learning so much from the process.



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    1. The world isn’t quite ready for my efforts so far! I’m keeping it short and simple, but there’s still a lot of polishing up to do. The frosty plants look good though.

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