GarageBand song files

I've attempted to answer this question with my own browsing, but it seems like there are a lot of schmucks out there (like the schmucks who confuse the words 'number' and 'amount') who seem to confuse 'song file' with 'audio output' of same (pick your format)... sorry, not the same (MIDI files are my basis for this query). So, are there real GB song files can had or traded, or has Apple got us over that barrel, too?

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  • 17 Comments sorted by Date Votes
  • This may be of no help, but using iTunes you can open GB projects in Logic on a Mac. I haven't tried it, but probably also Garageband on a Mac. The MIDI tracks are there to do with as you wish.

  • You have to export your Garageband-song (ios) to iTunes (at export, you can choose between "audiofile" and "song"). Only after that, the song will be appearing in iTunes App filesharing. From there, you can put it anywhere on your Mac and open it in GB (Mac), or Logic, with all files (Audio/Midi/Drummer etc.) available for further mangling. Beautiful concept, I use it all the time. Have fun, cheers, t

  • @animal I have on a couple of occasions saved GB song files via iTunes, but when it comes to using iTunes in general with my iPhone I can get iTunes to save stuff (or it acts like it is)... but I have NO clue as to what exactly is being saved and where (though I think I recall selecting the song file option) there seems to be no easy way (to me) to figure out where in iTunes these files might be kept - I can find no drop-down menu that shows me what is where, and when I do a general backup I can't make heads or tails of what iTunes is doing with whatever files it's doing something with.

    And I've complained about iTunes here before. I don't know if the fact that I have a Windows machine makes things obtuse, but I honestly don't know what is going on or what I'm doing. I can export audio to Soundcloud & email myself audio all day, but I want to know WHERE in iTunes these damned song files go. And when I've asked such questions here before, I get answers that suggest ppl here think I know some up-front... I know NO up-front and apparently need to be schooled about every single step & what I should see happening. But I stopped asking.

    I'm starting again. I need exact step-by-step bullet-point instructions that don't assume I know things. Pretend I don't.

    Sorry to sound like something of a whiner, but I don't get it. Someone PLEASE help...

  • ADDENDUM: Yes, I've looked for help online, and it's just as lousy with the info as anything has been.

  • There’s no Logic or GB on Windows, so you’ll have to transfer the GB song to a Mac after getting it in iTunes on Windows.

    I don’t use Windows for iTunes, so hopefully, it’s the same.

    1. On GB Song Page on iPad, select your song, tap file sharing icon (upper left), choose iTunes, save as Project (not Song)
    2. Connect iPad to computer via USB. iTunes should launch.
    3. In iTunes, if you need to, select the little iPad icon in the Views row (near top left on a Mac.) You should see a list on the left of Settings that include Apps, Music, Movies, etc.. Choose Apps and on the right scroll down til you see “File Sharing.” In the Apps list on the left, Click on GarageBand, your GB Documents should show up on the right.
    4. Drag the whatever.band file to Windows Explorer, to a folder of your choice.
    5. Open the .band file in Logic or GarageBand. MIDI tracks are there as part of the project.
  • Already I'm grounded.

    I do not have any sort of access to a Mac. And quite frankly, Apple - why should I? There's a Windows version of iTunes... so is this just more short-shrift nonsense?

    I've moved files around between platforms before without having to worry about whether or not the end-platform can open it. It's friggin' 1's & 0's.

    It's a good thing that this is an informational inquiry. I have no immediate need to share .band files (or ever?), but jeepers...

  • Well in this case you're gonna have to use some other Midisequencer (to get to the midifiles you created). It should be the same procedure as mentioned (you'll need to be able to export the Midifile, of course).There's quite some settings that are exported with GBfiles, you know. That's why there is a projectfile that can be exported and easily opened for further work... . I see no need to complain, here.

  • edited July 2016 Vote Up0

    Apple gives GarageBand away for free. There’s no reason for them to make it compatible in any way with a competing platform. It’s purpose is to help sell Apple products. iTunes on Windows is made available so people without Macs can sync iOS devices to a computer, not to make every Apple file format usable on a PC.

    If one wants to use GB, the rational way to approach it is to enjoy all it can do, and forget about what it can’t do. Otherwise, there are other apps to choose.

  • edited July 2016 Vote Up0

    Still a bit confused.

    It's my understanding that GB doesn't utilize the standard MIDI file format, or at least in a way that the industry might consider nominal. I am not discussing MIDI files here, because they aren't involved in this case. GB does not use MIDI - rather, a proprietary format of some sort, correct?

    I'll ask the question in a different way: When I have my iPhone plugged into my Windows 10 machine and iTunes pops up to start it's thing, there are little if any indicators of what files it's copying or where it's storing them. The iTunes UI is, to me, cryptic at best (and I've come to rather dislike the use of the term 'sync' where all this is concerned - why 'sync' and is this different in some fundamental way to just 'copying' files over? Or is this just Apple trying to be different?).

    While 'syncing' my iPhone with my 'puter I have gone through iTunes to try and discern what is being copied over and where it's all being saved to, and I have never found such - no menu item that shows me what is what and where... does such exist? Is there a folder on my 'puter somewhere that has all my .band files in it (along with anything else - photos, etc.)? And if so, I rather think iTunes could lead me to such - because it is already putting files somewhere - but maybe I'm missing something here. I've looked...

    And finally: Can one even share .band files with others? Or does Apple have THAT locked up in some way?

    I enjoy GB immensely, and have said so many times in this forum. These aren't end-of-the-world issues... just trying to clarify what the story is.

  • OK, you better appreciate this. I flippin' hate dealing with iTunes but I checked it out for you. o:)

    Consider this an amateur answer as I'm no iTunes or GarageBand expert. Just some guy like you that likes GarageBand and wishes it wasn't so firewalled from the rest of the world.

    It's not going to do you much good because (or at least I don't know of how) you can't really make use of a GarageBand (.band) file on your PC. It's a proprietary format that can only be used in the Mac version of GarageBand or Logic. But ...

    The files are within the iTunes database and as far as I know they can't just be browsed through the Windows file system. They can be transferred to your PC though. Just hook your iPad up to your PC and open iTunes. Click on the icon representing your iPad up at the top (not on the left hand menu). This should open the window showing the summary of your iPad.

    Click on "Apps" in the left-hand menu. Scroll down to the file sharing section and find GarageBand from the list. If you've exported any Projects, then they'll be there with ".band" extensions. If you've exported any songs, they'll be there as ".m4a" audio files. You can drag and drop files in and out of this location.

    You also have the option to save project files to iCloud Drive, but I haven't looked at how to leverage that. They're still .band files which are useless without GarageBand or Logic. You can export to Dropbox, etc, but only audio files, not projects.

    That's the extent that Apple has enabled one to use GarageBand with anything else as far as I know. As mentioned earlier, it's free, so it is what it is. If Apple wants to use it as simply a gateway drug to their other offerings, I guess that's their prerogative.

    I hope that helps, though I'm pretty sure it wasn't what you wanted to hear.

    Cheers.

  • I’ve looked through the Garageband iPad files at one stage with a hex editor. There’s a file in the package called projectData and there’s an awful lot of AAAA and //// all over the place, but other than that, no meaningful patterns that I can detect by eye.

  • @wim said:
    OK, you better appreciate this. I flippin' hate dealing with iTunes but I checked it out for you. o:)

    I am all ears - er, eyes.

    It's not going to do you much good because (or at least I don't know of how) you can't really make use of a GarageBand (.band) file on your PC. It's a proprietary format that can only be used in the Mac version of GarageBand or Logic. But ...

    This much I had thought to be the case, but I would like to think that if a .band file exists on my Windows PC that I could share it with someone who does have the system to deal with it. But apparently not.

    The files are within the iTunes database and as far as I know they can't just be browsed through the Windows file system.

    THIS I'd like more of an explanation for... 1's & 0's...

    They can be transferred to your PC though. Just hook your iPad up to your PC and open iTunes. Click on the icon representing your iPad up at the top (not on the left hand menu). This should open the window showing the summary of your iPad.

    That's the extent that Apple has enabled one to use GarageBand with anything else as far as I know. As mentioned earlier, it's free, so it is what it is. If Apple wants to use it as simply a gateway drug to their other offerings, I guess that's their prerogative.

    I don't hold it against Apple - I was pretty sure that something was afoot but was never able to ask the right question of Google et al and have it explained to me in a way that doesn't assume I know preliminaries that I do not. I consider myself a fairly low-level user compared to a good number of the forum members. Also, I never once thought that a .band file could be used by any other system. Maybe I erred in not mentioning that before.

    I hope that helps, though I'm pretty sure it wasn't what you wanted to hear.

    It's more of the kind of info had been interested in from the get-go. Thank you!

  • @Brain said:
    This much I had thought to be the case, but I would like to think that if a .band file exists on my Windows PC that I could share it with someone who does have the system to deal with it. But apparently not.

    To the contrary. You can drag the file out of iTunes on your PC, hand it off to someone else, and then they can drag it into their iTunes and make use of it. Or, if they have GarageBand or Logic on a Mac, can use it there. Likewise, you could hook up another device, like an iPhone and drag it into iTunes to transfer between devices (though iCloud would be better for that).

    The files are within the iTunes database and as far as I know they can't just be browsed through the Windows file system.

    THIS I'd like more of an explanation for... 1's & 0's...

    It has to do with how the files are converted to those 1's and 0's and stored. For example, you can create a standard text file in notepad and open it in Microsoft Word. If you save that file In word format and then try to open the resulting file in notepad, you'll just get mostly gibberish. Spreadsheets are another example. All the information is readable within the spreadsheet app, but there is a lot of other information that is stored in there as well. Only a spreadsheet app that is able to read that kind of file is going to be able to make use of it.

    When I say iTunes files are stored in it's "database", I mean that rather than being saved as simple files that you can just browse to in the file system, they're saved in iTune's proprietary collection of information in some file or files somewhere on your PC. But knowing that is of no use since you can't extract any of the information from that file without iTunes. It's probably encrypted as well.

    Proprietary file structures can be used for commercial reasons to intentionally obscure access to information other than through the app that maintains them, or they can just be that way out of necessity, for efficiency, security, or many other reasons. In Apple's case it's usually both.

  • I think I'm spending too much time on a subject I don't have any looming need for, else I'd ask another question. But I appreciate the info.

  • edited July 2016 Vote Up0

    "It's my understanding that GB doesn't utilize the standard MIDI file format, or at least in a way that the industry might consider nominal. I am not discussing MIDI files here, because they aren't involved in this case. GB does not use MIDI - rather, a proprietary format of some sort, correct?"

    It doesn't matter how GB triggers sounds internally. My guess is that many apps don't actually use MIDI internally. MIDI is used for external messaging, to tell another device what to do. When you save or export a music file, most apps can create MIDI files, or project files that have MIDI tracks. These MIDI files can then be opened in other programs. Inside the .band file are MIDI tracks (if you had tracks in your project that triggered stuff, as opposed to just audio tracks.) I don't know the format used inside the .band file, but it doesn't matter because, AFAIK, only Logic and GB on Mac can open these .band files.

    "This much I had thought to be the case, but I would like to think that if a .band file exists on my Windows PC that I could share it with someone who does have the system to deal with it. But apparently not."

    I don't see why you can't share .band files with others. If you copy the .band file from iTunes to a folder on your Windows computer, you can share that file like any other file.

  • It is possible to open GB files in Logic on Mac. The method works like a charm ; )

  • There is a free script (I think that's what it is) you can download that will extract the midi from GB files. Not at my Macbook now to check the exact name. You should be able to google it.
    You have to open the GB track in GB on the Mac, then save the midi track as an Apple Loop.
    The audio loop contains the midi data.
    You then drag the loop onto the script and it extracts the midi data.
    It works fairly well for me, but sometimes 1 GB track will export as multiple midi tracks with ranges if notes on each. I just merge the midi tracks in Studio One and have a single midi track again.
    If you have Logic, then that would obviously be much easier.

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