Posted on Mon 16 May 2011 in Computer Music

[[Logic Pro 9 LogoINTRODUCTION]

Once you've got to grips with the basics of Logic Pro and have had some fun with creating a few sounds (check out our Logic Pro Beginners Tutorials if you are still not at this stage), you are probably going to want to do something a little more advanced. If this is the case then you have come to the right place! Be aware that these tutorials are not for seasoned Logic users... they are simply here to help the amateur around this powerful piece of software.

Also, if you require some more advanced tutorials (on topics such as comping, automation, pitch shifting, etc), then check out out Logic Pro Advanced Tutorials.


1. Introduction and Contents
2. Recording MIDI
3. Piano Roll Editor
4. Quantization
5. Looping & Cycling

  1. Recording MIDI


As you will doubtless be aware by now, Logic has a bewildering array of sounds and timbres available to the user, whether they are sample based or created via the on-board synths. If you are anything like me, you will be itching to implement some of these sounds into your work and want to start recording.

Working with MIDI data in Logic is a great place to start. This is the process of hitting 'Record' and playing along with the click, normally via your keyboard, and then playing back your track, once recorded.

At the bottom of the main working page in Logic, known as the 'Arrange Page', you will find the Transport controls, (Fig. 1) which will look immediately familiar as they should be similar to your iPod or CD player's controls. You can use your mouse or trackpad to hit the appropriate buttons in order to record or play back.

Logic Pro Transport controls.

Fig. 1 - Logic Pro Transport controls.

Try hitting the Record button, at which point you should hear some clicks. This is the metronome, which acts as a guide to the speed (or tempo) of your track. Try to play along, or if it is too fast or too slow, change the speed and try again. You can change the speed by double clicking on the tempo setting (Fig. 2), typing in your desired tempo and pressing return. By default, you will hear a clear bar (4 clicks) before you start recording, so you can prepare yourself before playing, allowing you to get that perfect take.

Logic Pro Project Tempo.

Fig. 2 - Logic Pro Project Tempo.

Once you have recorded your first track, press Stop twice (once to stop and once to return you to the beginning) and then hit the Play button. You should now hear your work played back.
3. Piano Roll Editor


Having recorded your first track, you may feel that it requires a degree of editing. Perhaps you have just played the odd wrong note, or it’s a little out of time.

One of the best places to visit to edit your work is the piano roll editor. You will open this editor by double clicking on the track object, which you have just recorded, which in turn opens the piano roll editor at the bottom of the arrange window.

Once open, you should see some of the notes that you have played, displayed as rectangular shapes on-screen. Each one of these shapes, or ‘objects’ as we call them in Logic, is a representation of a note that you have played. The first aspect of its appearance that you might notice is its length. This ties to the ‘Bar Ruler’ at the top of the editor. The longer you play the note for, the longer the object will be, and as such will allow you to very clearly see if notes have been played in error.

If a note you have played doesn’t seem correct, you may wish to change its pitch or timing position. You can click on it, hold down the mouse or trackpad button and move it to a new location. You can also copy a note in the same way, by pressing the ‘Alt’ or ‘Option’ key whilst you drag it, making sure you release the mouse first.

When playing string sounds in chords, it is often the case that you might want the chord to end together, as it might sound ragged if you don’t, so using the Piano Roll editor will allow you to clearly see if the notes do not end together, and if they don’t, you can change the length of the note by moving your cursor to the end of the note you wish to change, at which point a ‘U’ shaped tool will appear (Fig. 3). This will allow you to click and hold with the mouse or trackpad to change the end of the note.

Logic Pro changing MIDI note length.

Fig. 3 - Logic Pro changing MIDI note length.
4. Quantization


Logic contains a number of incredibly helpful features, which can aid in the enhancement of a performance.

When working with MIDI, all recorded information is stored in a manner which is very easy to view and manipulate, and one parameter which can be exploited significantly is the quantize parameter. Quantize will examine the MIDI information that you have played in via a MIDI keyboard and then move the MIDI note events to match Logic’s metronome (i.e. Bars and Beats), making your performance sound tighter. This is done in quite a simplistic way and has little to do with examining the material musically. Rather Logic is looking for the nearest bar, beat or sub-division (which you can specify) and it moves the notes to match their timing points.

The first thing to do is highlight the track object on the arrange page that you would like to quantize, then you go to the quantize menu (Fig. 4), which you will find in the Inspector on the top left of the Arrange page. It will read ‘off (3840)’ to begin with, so just click and hold ‘off’ which will then allow you to select the desired value. All values are displayed as fractions of a ‘whole note’ or ‘semi-breve’, so with a little musical knowledge you will begin to know which value is best for which purpose. If you are looking for a 4 to the floor bass drum, pick 1/4 note. For more elaborate musical phrases such as Hi-Hat parts, you will probably need to select 1/8th or 1/16th note quantize. The best news of all is that if your quantize setting doesn’t sound right, you can change it for another setting, or even turn it off again. It’s completely non-destructive, so you can be back where you started in no time at all!

Logic Pro Quantize Menu.

Fig. 4 - Logic Pro Quantize Menu.
5. Looping & Cycling


Both looping and cycling are good examples of labour saving devices, but they are often confused, so which do you use where?

Looping is designed to be applied to an object, which will then repeat until it is told to stop. To activate a loop on an object, select the track object concerned, and then much like quantize before, you go to the Inspector (top left of the arrange page) and click in the check box next to ‘loop’. Your object will now repeat....... until the very end of the song! Alternatively you can select an object and hit the 'L' key on your computer keyboard. If you want to stop the loop earlier than that, you can either just record something new in the path of the loop, on the same track, or you can stop it manually. You do this by passing the cursor over the upper section of the loop, at which point the icon will change to a circular arrow and line. Clicking now will allow you to stop the loop, and indeed specify how long you want the loop to be, by dragging it left and right. (Fig. 5).

Logic Pro Looping.

Fig. 5 - Logic Pro Looping.

Cycling on the other hand is not the same at all. A cycle is created in the bar ruler area, by dragging the cursor from the left to the right (Fig. 6). The purpose of this is to create an area which you would like to work on and Logic will ‘cycle’ around, allowing you to record new material or tweak settings as it plays. It is also useful for cycling the next section of a tune that you want to work on, so having worked on the verse of your song, you might decide to cycle bars 9-16 which are to become the chorus. When cycle is deployed, the green cycle light illuminates on the transport bar and the beginning of your cycle section acts as bar 1 - always starting at that point when you press play. You can switch cycle mode off by clicking the cycle light on the transport bar, or just click once on the illuminated section of the bar ruler. The cycle settings will be retained, so you can activate cycle mode again, and the location will remain the same.

Logic Pro Cycle Markers.

Fig. 6 - Logic Pro Cycle Markers.