Some naïve early observers reckoned Apple's “big corporate” acquisition of Emagic four years ago would be the end of Logic's competitive nature and community-based spirit. In reality, nothing could have been further from the truth. Logic Pro users have been blessed with several major updates, including the massive escalation to Logic Pro 7 — the magnitude of which we likely wouldn't have seen without Apple's involvement. Now firmly established as one of the leading DAWs, Logic Pro 7 is built on a rock-solid, forward-thinking architecture by a software development team inherently in tune with its colleagues on the hardware side. The result is an application so deep and fun to use that we often get caught up in our music making and forget to explore its powerful subtleties and many hidden tricks. The following 10 tips will uncover some of the secrets of Logic.
1. STRIP SILENCE TO SLICE REGIONS
Though not its primary function, Strip Silence can be used to effectively slice audio regions based on transient points by simply cranking up the release value. That can be useful if you want to time-correct individual portions to specific beats. For example, look at the guitar part in the accompanying screenshot.
That makes it possible for you to now rhythmically adjust the position of each of these newly created regions or even quantize them from within the Event Editor window. One additional tip you may want to use is to apply a small 1-3 tick Fade In/Out on all of the regions to guard against potential clicks and pops that may happen if the regions overlap at nonzero crossing points. You can do that easily by selecting all the regions and setting the desired values for Fade In and Fade Out in the Region parameter box. The immediate result is that the value is applied to all selected regions.
2. SPOTTING REGIONS USING EVENT FLOAT
If you want to drop an audio file region from the Audio window to a precise location in the Arrange window, you may want to exploit a special behavior of the Event Float. The Event Float can be opened from the main Options menu and is normally used to view and edit the positions of any selected Region or MIDI Event.
3. GLOBAL BEAT-MAPPING TRACK
Sometimes there can be nothing more organic than sitting down at a keyboard and just flailing away at an impromptu part without care for metronomic precision or making it fit a certain groove. The global Beat Mapping track added to Logic 7 helps make the display of such audio or MIDI recordings rhythmically meaningful by allowing you to define the bar positions of rubato (freely timed) musical events without changing their absolute position and thus preserving their timing. That essentially replaces the Reclock function of previous Logic versions, but with much more panache.
From any of Logic's Arrange, Matrix, Score or Hyper editing windows, you can display the Beat Mapping Global track just below the main Bar Ruler by specifically toggling it from the View > Global Track Components submenu. In the upper part of the Beat Mapping track is another ruler of assignable bars, beats and subdivisions, while in the lower part, Logic displays the positions of individual MIDI notes of the selected region(s) as vertical lines.
You can beat map audio regions in similar fashion; the main difference is that Logic must first search for transients in the audio in order to display them as small vertical lines at the bottom of the Beat Mapping track — just like the notes in MIDI regions. Click on the Analyze button in the Beat Mapping track list; a pop-up menu below that allows you to fine-tune detection sensitivity.
4. ALIGNING THE END OF REGIONS OR NOTES
It is not uncommon to be in situations where you want to perfectly align the end of multiple MIDI notes or audio regions so that they all end (go silent) at the same time, regardless of where their start positions (note-ons) are located. Logic provides a special key command as well as a modifier key shortcut for achieving this result.
Look in the Key Commands window (Preferences > Key Commands) titled Set Region/Event End to SPL Position. SPL in Logic always stands for Song Position Line; the key command therefore sets the end position of any selected region so that it ends up at the current position of the SPL. If it isn't already, assign the command to any key combination you wish; a good example would be Shift + ].
The feature works the same with MIDI notes, but in that case a modifier key option achieves a similar result. If you select a group of notes — a cluster making up a chord, for example — and hold down the Shift key while dragging the end of any one of them, they will all snap to the same end position while retaining their original note-on position. That is a quick and easy way to create precise-sounding keyboard comps that end cleanly on the beat. A similarly useful modifier key is to hold down Shift + Option while adjusting the length. The result is that all of the events take on the same length, so that they match the length of the event you selected first to start adjusting. If your notes begin spaced out, they will all end in the same staggered manner. Note that the Info Line that appears when you're making the edit will change to either Equal End or Equal Length, depending on which modifier key you're holding down.
5. MARKER TRACKS
Just as the Global Beat Mapping Track is a vast improvement over old methods, so too is the implementation of song markers in Logic 7. The main advantages of the new Global Marker Track (View > Global Track Components > Marker Track) compared with the regular marker display in the Bar Ruler is that it allows you to copy, move or change the length of markers freely, as well as resize their viewable area so that much more information can be displayed at once.
Double-clicking on a marker makes a notepad appear (complete with choice of font type, size and color), within which you can write highly detailed notes or instructions, such as players' names, instruments and microphone setups for a given part or take; lyrics; crucial outboard settings; arrangement elements that need revisiting; and so on. The beauty is that you can make those as time-aligned as you wish for quick and easy referral. Most songs are naturally delineated by the way we record, split and name regions as verse, chorus, bridge and so forth. This makes declaring markers a snap by simply dragging regions up to the Marker Track or by selecting regions and pressing the handy Form Regions button in the Marker Track list.
6. MAKING A POINT
Setting Logic into loop mode for a specific section of a song has never been easier. Simply drag a Marker onto the timeline, and its left/right boundaries will automatically set the start and end loop points, and the timeline will begin cycling.
7. TO THE BREAKDOWN
Not a new Logic function by any stretch, demixing drum tracks is still a buried treasure for many newcomers and deserves attention. If you want to do MPC-style drum programming — where you're playing all of your drum parts from a single drum kit onto a single MIDI track — once you've got your pattern programmed, you can highlight the region and “demix” it (Region > Split/Demix > Demix by Note Pitch). That will take each MIDI note (drum sound) and create a different MIDI Region of the same length and place it on a newly created track assigned to the same instrument as the original region. Now you have control to tweak each sound individually or create breakdowns. That is also especially useful for separating drum parts that have been recorded into Logic from an external drum machine. In Logic 7.2, that is also available as a key command.
8. REGION SLICING INTO EQUAL PIECES
This is Logic's slice-to-grid function, ideal for preparing audio for stutter edits and beat resequencing while locked to grid. Select the Scissors tool and Option-click on a region. Wherever you click, it will take the size of that slice and dice the entire region past that into equal-size pieces. Say you have a 4-bar region starting exactly on bar 1 (tip: adjust your “snap” and “division” settings accordingly), and you placed your cut exactly on bar 2; Logic will slice the entire region into four parts, each a bar long. Alternatively, if you sliced on bar 1 beat 2, it would slice the entire region into quarter-note chunks, and so on.
9. CLOSER INSPECTION
Logic offers several cool key-command methods of zoom. Typically, if a region is selected, zooming will center on that region's start point. Usually assigned to the Z key, the Zoom to Fit Selection function will zoom into whatever region you have highlighted. Pressing Control while drawing a box with the Marquee tool will zoom you into specific points of interest — even to the sample level. (In Logic 7.1, Option-Control eliminates the need to preselect the Marquee tool.)
10. OPTION-DRAG SIZING
One of the coolest yet most overlooked Logic edit functions is the Option-drag sizing of MIDI Regions. Holding down Option while altering the length of a MIDI Region provides easy time compression/expansion by altering the timing of the events, proportionately. In this way, it's possible to make a region play in half-time by stretching it to twice the original length, or in double-time by halving its length. When applied to demixed MIDI drum loops, for example, you can quickly generate exciting new polyrhythms based on varying your drag distances.