Film Scoring/Butchering MIDI Files/Importing Starwars into GarageBand

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These instructions are designed for GarageBand 3 plus the sounds of a symphony orchestra.
GarageBand is easy and fast yet powerful enough to do film scoring.
Please, tell me if you find anything as good!


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This course in music and filmmaking is:
Film scoring introduction for filmmakers
This lesson is:
Lesson #4 - Butchering MIDI files with GarageBand
The pages in this lesson are:
Page 1: Borrowing from classical MIDI files
Page 2: Importing Beethoven into GarageBand
Page 3a: Importing Starwars into GarageBand
Page 3b: Simplifying Starwars in GarageBand
Page 3c: Modifying Starwars in GarageBand
Page 4: Creating more sounds from Midi files - 6 points
Page 5: Create a musical cue for the motion picture "Graduation Day" - #2 - 20 points


Importing Starwars music into GarageBand
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A second example

Here is another example of borrowing music from Midi files.
For the movie "Seduced by the Dark Side!", I want pieces of music that sound like Starwars.
Therefore, I start with actual music from Starwars. Later, I butcher this so it not longer is anything like the original but still has the same feel.



Step #1

Step 1 - Locate the file on the Internet

There are a large number of midi files on the Internet from Starwars. I am interested in the music from the first Starwars movie. The name of this file is "swtheme.midi". Use Google to find this file and download it to your computer.
Screen shot of searching for the file


Film scoring google search starwars.png


Step #2

Step 2 - Clean up Midi file

GarageBand will not accept this Midi file. Therefore, I open the midi file in QuickTime Movie Player and export it as a Midi file which cleans the file up.
In the picture to the right, you see the file open in QuickTime Pro's Movie Player. It is being exported as a Midi file (to a different location or with a different name.)
GarageBand with the midi file
Film Scoring Export from MoviePlayer.png
click on picture to enlarge


Step #3

Step 3 - Drag to GarageBand

After I cleaned up the midi file, I drag the icon of the midi file from the Finder to GarageBand.
Note: The Finder rarely looks to good. I cleaned it up and simplified it for this example.
Dragging Midi file to GarageBand
Film scoring Dragging Midi file to GarageBand.png
click on picture to enlarge


Step #4

Step 4 - importing into GarageBand

GarageBand creates multiple tracks during the import.
The import feature is totally automatic
Film scoring Importing midi file into GarageBand.png
click on picture to enlarge


Step #5

Step 5 - Fully imported

When completed, the import of the midi file looks like this.
A track can be broken into regions
Film Scoring Full import into GarageBand.png
click on picture to enlarge


Step #6

Step 6 - Locate the start of the desired theme

Now I need to find and then isolate the notes I am interested in. I do this because otherwise the file is too large and awkward to work with.
I select all the tracks and put the play marker before the notes I want. Then I select SPLIT from the menu.
Don't worry about accuracy. If I get extra notes included in the section, I can eliminate them later. Better to have too many than not enough.
All the tracks can be broken into regions
Film Scoring Locate first split point.png
click on picture to enlarge


Step #7

Step 7 - Locate the end of the desired theme

Now I need to find the end of the notes I am interested in.
I select all the tracks and put the play marker after the notes I want. Then I select SPLIT from the menu.
Don't worry about accuracy. If I get extra notes included in the section, I can eliminate them later. Better to have too many than not enough.
I split the tracks again after the theme
Film Scoring Locate end split point.png
click on picture to enlarge


Step #8

Step 8 - All the regions before I begin deleting

After I have broken the song into regions, I am ready to delete the unwanted regions at the beginning and the end of the midi file.
The same tune reduced to a few chords
Film Scoring All the tracks split.png
click on picture to enlarge


Step #9

Step 9 - Select the first batch of regions

After I have broken the song into regions, I must first select the ones I do not want so I can delete them.
The same tune reduced to a few chords
Film Scoring Selecting the first splits.png
click on picture to enlarge


Step #10

Step 10 - The remaining notes

I delete the unwanted regions at the beginning and then I must select the ones at the end I do not want so I can delete them.
Preparing to delete more unwanted regions
Film Scoring Selecting the second splits.png
click on picture to enlarge


Step #11

Step 11 - The remaining notes

After I have deleted the both unwanted regions, this is all I have left. Now it is a manageable size.
Now I need to move the remaining notes much closer to the beginning of the song.
The same tune reduced to a few chords
Film Scoring After deleting unwanted notes.png
click on picture to enlarge


Step #12

Step 12 - All the regions before I begin deleting

I see that some tracks have not notes. So I highlight the tracks and delete them.
Select and delete the empty tracks
Film Scoring preparing to delete empty tracks.png
click on picture to enlarge


Step #13

Step 13 - Listen to all the tracks separately

This is all that I have left after trimming the unwanted notes at the beginning and end of the song and then deleting all empty tracks.
Next, I need to listen to each track individually to see if I like the notes or not.
In my example, this is all I have left.
Some of these tracks are too noisy
Film Scoring Listening to each track.png
click on picture to enlarge


Step #14

Step 14 - Isolate the good tracks

First I listen to the tracks separately and find the interesting tracks. Then I play just the interesting tracks with the ugly sounding tracks turned off.
The tune sounds better with some tracks turned off.
Film Scoring Listening to the good tracks.png
click on picture to enlarge


Step #15

Step 15 - The good tracks

After importing, cropping, and thinning the Midi file, this is what I end up with.
The tune simplified.
Film Scoring The good tracks.png
click on picture to enlarge


Authors name (Your Name) or section heading
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The next steps

I have successfully reduced the Starwars music to a simple theme.
Now I must turn this into a film score.
Simplify more
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The music is not simple enough

Even after all I have done, the music is not simple enough. And it is not clean enough.

Solve the copyright problem
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Not classical music

Because this is not classical music (old music), I cannot use the exact music. I must butcher it more to make it copyright free.

Conclusion title
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The next page

Continue this lesson on Simplifying Starwars in GarageBand

Contact your instructor

Your instructor for this film scoring class is Robert Elliott.
You can email me by clicking here. Crystal Clear app xfmail.png