August 31st, 2005 • 9:48 am
The Track Editor in GarageBand is, in many ways, quite similar to a drawing application, especially when you are using it in graphic view (where the notes are represented not in musical notation on a staff, but as horizontally oriented rectangles on a grid).
It is similar to a drawing application in that you can select multiple notes like you would select a bunch of objects in a drawing application such as Illustrator, and then drag and drop the selection in a different location. You can make the notes snap to the grid (or not). You can resize the notes like you would resize a drawing object. Etc.
Because of this, it is quite natural for the user to expect to find even more similarities to drawing tools. Unfortunately, in that respect GarageBand falls short. One particularly disappointing aspect is what happens when you try to remove some notes from a selection of notes.
In a drawing application, in order to select a bunch of objects that are in close geographical proximity, you can draw a selection rectangle around the objects, and that will select all the objects located within the boundaries of the rectangle.
But then you might find that you have selected some objects that you didn’t mean to select. In order to remove these objects from the selection without losing the rest of the selection, in a drawing application you can usually hold the Shift key down and click on the objects that you want to deselect. The Shift key shortcut is normally meant to be used to add objects to a selection, but if the object is already part of the selection, shift-clicking on it will deselect it (and shift-clicking again will reselect it and add it again to the selection).
Alternatively, in a drawing application, if you have a small bunch of objects that you want to remove from a selection of a larger bunch of objects that includes them, you can also hold the Shift key down and draw a selection rectangle around the small bunch of objects you want to deselect. When you draw a selection rectangle with the Shift key down around a bunch of objects that are already selected, the objects in question are removed from the selection.
This is rather convenient, because it means that, when you want to remove a bunch of objects from a selection, you don’t have to shift-click on each and every object individually.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way in GarageBand. You can shift-click on individual notes to remove them from the current selection, but you cannot draw a selection rectangle with the Shift key down around a bunch of already selected notes to remove them from the current selection of notes.
It is unfortunate, because there are many situations where being able to do this to an existing selection of notes would be very convenient indeed. And there is no reason why it shouldn’t work this way.
But in GarageBand, if you draw a selection rectangle with the Shift key down around a bunch of already selected notes, nothing happens. The notes in the rectangle remain selected. The only solution is to shift-click individually on each note you want to remove from the selection.
I would really have expected the careful interface designers at Apple to be more consistent here and maintain the drawing tool analogy all the way through.