Logic Pro Tutorial

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Beginners Guide To – The Arrange Window

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In this very simple tutorial I will try to help you understand exactly ‘what’ a sequencer is, and the basic functions of the arrange ‘page’ or ‘window’.

The very word ‘arrange’ is the clue as to what this window is for. Think of a computer as having a programme such as Microsoft Word. This program is what you would ordinarily use to type your documents into, arranging and editing them to your liking. Well a sequencer is basically your tool to do the same with your song. The arrange page is set up to be your visual representation of a song in an understandable and editable way. You will find other sequencers such as Cubase etc have the same or similar functions on the arrange page, (nearly all sequencers apply the same methods) but perhaps with different looking interfaces.

There are many other useful functions here but lets just stick to the basics for now! You just want to get your song down so that you can begin editing it. The arrange page is where you will start.

logic pro arrangement

Point 1 – The Running Man

The little blue man is actually called the ‘running man’. This feature means that Logic will update its position while playing. The window will scroll along as well as the position marker as the song plays. If you switch this feature off the window will stay at its current position while the song plays. The other icon, the ‘link icon’ beside the running man is used when there are multiple windows open and and we will explain this feature in the next tutorial.

Point 2 – The Ruler

Along the top of this window you will see what looks like a horizontal ‘ruler’. This tells you how long your song is and is marked by a line that glides across the screen from left to right as your song plays. Importantly the speed at which this line goes is dependent on the tempo set for your song. If you set a tempo of 80 it will move along much slower than if you set it for 140. If you look inside the transport window (point 8), you will see that the tempo is set here at 120.0000 ‘and’ in 4/4 timing. By double-clicking on these values (or pointing your mouse on them and scrolling up and down) you can change the figures which will alter the tempo/timing of your song. Audio tracks work differently and we will come to that later.

This ruler is made up of bars. A sort of beat timer if you will.

You can see in the image the vertical line points at number 4 on the ruler. On the transport bar this is shown as 4.1.1.1. This stands for Bar 4, Beat 1, Division 1, Tick 1. You’ve no doubt heard of bars and beats if you’ve done any music study before, if not all music is divided into Bars. In each bar there are a number of beats, the number is dependant on the key signature. In the majority of modern music there are four beats per bar, however it is important to know that other timing systems exist. If you look at the transport bar again (point 8) you will see 4/4 beside the tempo. This indicates in this song there are four beats per bar. Do not worry if you find this confusing at first, you will soon get used to timing in your songs.

Divisions and ticks are nowhere near as important to know as bars and beats.

If your vertical line were to scroll one bar along it would point at 5.1.1.1 and so on. In this image you can see 5.1.1.1 onwards greyed out. The song is only shown as being 4 bars long here. We would want our song much longer than 4 bars!. So to extend the ruler at the top you would click on the small grey box over the 5 and drag it right with your mouse. In this way you will make additional bars available in your arrange page.

Point 3 – The Audio Channel

This track is used to record audio from an external source such as a microphone or to import audio “samples”. Many of these samples can be found freely on the net or in magazine CD’s. It does not record note information but just an actual ‘sound’ which is displayed as a wave form.

Point 4 – Waves

The wave form which has been recorded into ‘Audio 1’ (in the image). You can see the black wave which has been recorded. Where the black is thicker the audio is louder.

Point 5 – Midi Channel

This is a midi channel. Midi stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. Midi is basically a way of recording what note was pressed, for however long, and how hard (velocity). It is very important to know that midi doesn’t contain any sound information. Logic records midi information separate to sound. (See Audio Channel/ Waves above).This is an important distinction because you can never get ‘sound’ to go through a midi cable, rather just information about notes. This information is decoded before it is played back. Basically, the sequencer plays a note for example, C1, for one bar in the current instrument. If you have never heard of midi before I suggest you read a beginners guide to midi of which there are a lot of articles to be found on the net.

You will notice that the Fingered bass region contains notes whilst the Audio region contains only a wave form. This is because midi is displayed with note information. The difference between wave and midi, and how you can edit and work with the two together, is rather complex but for now you can see how they appear on this window.

Midi Track

Midi information has been recorded into this channel as fingered bass. You can see the white notes which represent the notes pressed on your keyboard or midi controller. The higher up a note is, the higher in pitch the note is.

Track Property Box

This window is always connected to the currently selected track. In the case of the image provided, this is connected to the Fingered Bass track. You can tell this is selected because the title of the track is shown in black, otherwise it would show in the same colour (pink) as the rest of the box. In here you can change a number of options, starting from the top:

Quantization

Quantisation means bringing into time. By pulling played notes into time on an invisible grid you are able to manipulate the timing in small measures. The results of quantization are best judged by ear.

Loop

Plays one part of a selected song continuously.

Transpose

Selected parts can be transposed up or down in key. Twelve semitones for an octave.

Velocity

The rate at which a key is pressed, or how quickly/slow it is pressed records the velocity.

Dynamics

Dynamics in a midi track changes the velocity of notes in a whole track so that they are more similar or that there is a greater spread of volume. It operates similarly to a compressor or expander in an audio track.

Gate Time

Gate time makes notes more legato or staccato, ie lengthen/shortens notes.

Delay

Adds a positive or negative delay to the track.

Point 6 – Transport Bar

The transport bar is primarily used for stop, play, rewind, record, fast forward etc. Much like the buttons on a tape recorder. It also displays useful information about the position in the song. The note currently being pressed on any keyboards attached and the tempo of the song. (See the section on the ruler above.

Cycle

Cycle allows you to loop a specific area of the song, to set the cycle points click in the ruler above the horizontal line and drag the mouse right. You can see the area that is currently being ‘cycled’ as a grey box in the ruler.

Drop

Drop is used to drop ‘in or out’ of recording at specific points of the song. It is useful if you have recorded some audio and you’ve made a mistake in a small part, you can easily set the points to just record over that individual piece.

Replace

Logic defaults to recording a new object when record mode is set. ‘Replace’ does exactly what it says and instead of recording a new object it records over or replaces the original.

Solo

This solo function means that any ‘highlighted’ or ‘selected’ objects will play, everything else will be silent. A highly useful function as you just have to click on an object for it to be the only object playing, and click on another if you wish to switch to hearing another play on its own whilst this button is pressed.

Sync

The Sync button means that Logic will run exactly in time with a piece of external hardware, such as a word clock, an SMPTE controller, or a midi time code. This function is most useful, obviously, if you are using external hardware. One useful example could be to record from another backing track and keeping the timing exact so all the notes appear in the right place. The main reason for this is that every sequencer and every computer will run at slightly different speeds so it just keeps Logic in perfect timing. Another use is to start or stop Logic with a piece of external hardware.

Metronome

An audible click to keep you in time whilst recording your song. It gives one click for every bar and a different click for every beat.

Point 7 – Toolbox

Reading from left to right here is a brief explanation of these tools:
Default Tool
This tool is useful in the Arrange Page for dragging and re-sizing objects.
Pencil
The pencil is used to add new objects to the arrange page.
Eraser
Deletes objects
Text Tool
A tool used for adding text or names to objects.
Scissors
A function useful for cutting regions or objects.
Glue
When highlighted this tool glues two separate objects together.
Solo
Placing this tool over an object solo’s the object, ie: it will be the only object that will play until released.
Mute
Clicking on an object with this tool will mute the object. To un-mute it must be clicked on again with the same tool.
Zoom
Click and drag over an area with this tool to zoom into the area.
Fade
This tool when placed over an audio object will allow you to drag a ‘fade’ in or out over the wave.
Curve
Curve is used in track automation to define the shape of a curve.

Point 8 – The channel property box

The channel property box is used to set various properties for the entire channel. This can include what audio track or midi track you are playing on. Which instruments are actually playing in a midi track. At a later stage we will explain in more detail this area which is a little complicated, once we get to making a simple tune in Logic and provide a walkthrough on how to record and edit a simple tune.

We hope this beginners tutorial has provided some useful information for those learning/using Logic Pro.

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