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First look: Logic Pro X 10.1 brings it to beatmakers

Christopher Breen | Jan. 22, 2015
Tune into just about any Top 40 radio station these days and it becomes evident that a producer has as much (or more) to do with a song's arrangement and presentation as the recording artist. While this has long been the case with hip-hop and electronic tracks, even the music performed by such mainstream artists as Taylor Swift would have far less impact without the ministrations of the behind-the-scenes producer.

Kickin' it

It's possible that there are people who enjoy creating drum machine parts by clicking individual notes into place on a timeline or banging them out on a MIDI keyboard, but I'm not one of them. For those like me, Logic offers new Note Repeat and Spot Erase features for more easily creating drum and software instrument parts.

The idea is simple (and familiar, if you've used classic drum machines). Select a software instrument track or drum track, expose the toolbar, and click on the Note Repeat icon. Choose a repeat rate such as a quarter note, start recording, and press C1 on your keyboard. As long as your finger holds down the C1 key, the kick drum will be recorded for each quarter note beat. Repeat the process for other notes and sounds — press F#1 to trigger the hi-hat and assign a value of an eighth note, for example. (You can also use this feature with the updated version of the free Logic Remote iPad app and with Logic's onscreen keyboard.)

But there's more to it. You can additionally adjust the rhythmic value in real time with a MIDI controller — a slider or wheel, for example. For instance, assign it to your controller's modulation wheel and wheel up as you record to increase the frequency that the beats are played (from eighth notes to 64ths, for example).

Spot Erase is the other side of this coin. If you'd like to remove parts from a currently playing software instrument or drum track, enable Spot Erase and then hold down the key that triggers a particular note or sound as it plays. You might, for example, find the constant eighth note click of a hi-hat track to be too static. To put holes in that track, hold down F#1 for those notes you'd like to remove as the track plays.

Mind over MIDI

In line with expanding Logic's drum palette, Apple's Logic team has enhanced the MIDI tools producers and artists will use to input and edit their electronic drum parts. This takes place in Logic's Piano Roll (read: MIDI) editor.

The editor has been expanded in a variety of ways. First, the names of electronic drums now appear in the editor rather than simply as note names (C1, D2, and so on) or piano keys. This makes it easier to find exactly the sound you'd like to edit. There's also a new Collapse Mode, which, rather than displaying every note value across the spectrum, shows you only those notes that have data assigned to them — C1 for the kick drum and D1 for the snare, for example, but not G1 and A1 if no notes appear on those lines. If you've ever spent time scrolling up and down through a tall MIDI track to find just the note values you want, you'll appreciate this feature.


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