Virtual Instruments in Logic Pro
Illustration by John Hersey

Creating movement with the LFO


Virtual Instruments in Logic Pro

with Brian Trifon

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Video: Creating movement with the LFO

One way that I can add constant modulation to the signal that's periodic is using this LFO that's down here in the bottom. So an LFO is much like an audio-rate oscillator, like these ones above--the primary oscillator and sub-oscillator-- in that it generates a periodic waveform, so even some of the same types of waveforms: triangle waveform, square waveform. The difference is instead of sending to the amplifier so that we can hear the signal, it's sending a control signal. For example, I could assign this to modulate the filter cutoff.
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  1. 6m 59s
    1. Welcome
      2m 21s
    2. Setting up Logic Pro for using virtual instruments and configuring MIDI controllers
      4m 5s
    3. Using the exercise files
  2. 21m 50s
    1. Getting started with the ES M
      1m 13s
    2. Understanding the signal flow of the ES M
      2m 18s
    3. Using the oscillator
      3m 4s
    4. Tone shaping with the lowpass filter
      2m 59s
    5. Using the volume controls
      3m 5s
    6. Using the Filter envelope to adjust cutoff
      3m 22s
    7. Composing with the ES M
      5m 49s
  3. 26m 16s
    1. Getting started with the ES E
      1m 15s
    2. Understanding the signal flow of the ES E
      2m 5s
    3. Selecting a waveform
      2m 9s
    4. Using the Vibrato/PWM dial
      2m 15s
    5. Using the ES E lowpass filter
      2m 43s
    6. Shaping the amplitude with the Attack and Release envelope
      3m 10s
    7. Shaping the filter with the Attack and Release envelope
      3m 55s
    8. Using the Chorus and Ensemble settings
      2m 1s
    9. Composing with the ES E
      6m 43s
  4. 39m 0s
    1. Getting started with the ES P
      1m 54s
    2. Understanding the signal flow of the ES P
      2m 22s
    3. Balancing the oscillator levels
      4m 7s
    4. Enabling key follow on the filter
      6m 9s
    5. Shaping the volume with the ADSR
      6m 20s
    6. Modulating the cutoff with the ADSR
      3m 48s
    7. Using the Vibrato/Wah control
      3m 23s
    8. Tweaking the Overdrive and Chorus settings
      2m 34s
    9. Composing with the ES P
      8m 23s
  5. 1h 19m
    1. Getting started with the ES1
      2m 8s
    2. Exploring the signal flow of the ES1
      3m 31s
    3. Using the oscillator and sub-oscillator
      3m 58s
    4. Tweaking the filter
      6m 36s
    5. Using key follow on the cutoff
      5m 25s
    6. Exploring the amplifier section and ADSR
      7m 42s
    7. Modulating the cutoff with ADSR
      4m 9s
    8. Creating movement with the LFO
      14m 18s
    9. Using the Modulation envelope to add contour
      13m 31s
    10. Using the Glide and the Global Voices settings
      4m 30s
    11. Using the side chain input and LFO external feature
      4m 34s
    12. Composing with the ES1
      9m 21s
  6. 48m 10s
    1. Getting started with EFM1
      1m 52s
    2. FM synthesis basics and signal flow
      3m 21s
    3. Setting the carrier pitch
      2m 56s
    4. Changing timbre with the modulator
      6m 2s
    5. Using the volume and modulation envelope to shape the sound
      9m 55s
    6. Adding movement with the LFO
      3m 0s
    7. Using unison, detune and sub osc for thick sounds
      3m 22s
    8. Randomize, do you feel lucky today?
      3m 47s
    9. Assigning MIDI controls to FM
      3m 38s
    10. Composing with the EFM1
      10m 17s
  7. 46m 5s
    1. Getting Started with EVOC 20
      2m 9s
    2. Vocoding Basics: Making your synth sing!
      3m 14s
    3. Exploring the synthesis section
      4m 48s
    4. Managing the Global voice settings
      4m 39s
    5. Using the filterbank section to shape the vocoded sounds
      5m 34s
    6. Tweaking the formants and adding movement with the LFO's
      5m 26s
    7. Getting more intelligible results with U/V detection
      3m 52s
    8. Making your beats melodic: vocoding drums
      3m 38s
    9. Composing with the EVOC 20
      12m 45s
  8. 1h 28m
    1. Getting Started with ES2
      3m 33s
    2. Exploring the ES2 Oscillators and Mix Triangle
      9m 8s
    3. Tweaking the ES2 filters to shape expressive sounds
      7m 11s
    4. Series or Parallel?
      6m 34s
    5. Understanding the amplifier effects
      3m 45s
    6. Bringing life to ES2 with the modulation router
      4m 50s
    7. Creating rhythmic movement with the LFO's
      10m 8s
    8. Using the 3 envelopes to give shape to your sounds
      8m 13s
    9. Create evolving sounds with basic vector modulation
      5m 37s
    10. Looping with the vector envelope
      8m 17s
    11. Voice parameters and global settings
      7m 15s
    12. Making changes to your macro and MIDI controls
      3m 29s
    13. Composing with the ES2
      10m 26s
  9. 1h 15m
    1. Getting Started with EXS24
      3m 29s
    2. Create your own sample instruments the easy way
      5m 4s
    3. Exploring single zone sample instruments
      4m 29s
    4. Creating multiple zone instruments
      5m 9s
    5. Adding dynamics with velocity layers
      5m 46s
    6. Organizing zones with groups
      7m 4s
    7. Advanced zone editing and looping
      5m 21s
    8. Using the filter section to shape your sampled sounds
      7m 3s
    9. Using transpose and glide to add expression to EXS24
      5m 22s
    10. Adding life and expression with the modulation
      7m 34s
    11. Further shaping with the envelopes
      6m 35s
    12. Adjusting Global voice settings
      3m 14s
    13. Composing with the EXS24
      9m 5s
  10. 59m 45s
    1. Getting started with EVB3
      3m 59s
    2. Synthesizing with the Drawbars
      3m 10s
    3. Utilizing the Preset Keys and Morph Wheel
      4m 31s
    4. Adding Vibrato and Percussion Parameters
      4m 43s
    5. Customizing the Pitch and Condition Parameters
      7m 0s
    6. Adjusting the Organ and Sustain Parameters
      6m 6s
    7. Using the EVB3 effects
      5m 43s
    8. Modulating sound with the Leslie Rotor Cabinet
      7m 49s
    9. Setting the extended parameters
      5m 17s
    10. Composing with the EVB3
      11m 27s
  11. 19m 52s
    1. Getting Started with EVP88
      2m 46s
    2. Selecting a piano model
      1m 17s
    3. Adjusting the model parameters
      2m 38s
    4. Setting the tuning parameters
      1m 54s
    5. Adding effects to thicken the sound
      4m 40s
    6. Musical example
      6m 37s
  12. 29m 15s
    1. Getting Started with EVD6
      2m 29s
    2. Choosing the instrument model
      3m 41s
    3. Customizing the string parameters
      4m 25s
    4. Adjusting pickup configuration and position
      3m 49s
    5. Using the EVD6 Effects
      5m 24s
    6. Composing with the EVD6
      9m 27s
  13. 1h 57m
    1. Getting Started with Sculpture
      4m 53s
    2. Setting the string characteristics with the Material Pad
      8m 26s
    3. Exciting the string with objects
      8m 52s
    4. Adjusting the Pickups and Global Voice Settings
      8m 10s
    5. Shaping sound with the Amp Envelope
      4m 24s
    6. Saturating sound with the Wave Shaper
      3m 42s
    7. Sculpting with the filter
      7m 37s
    8. Adding depth to the stereo delay
      5m 18s
    9. Understanding the Body EQ
      6m 34s
    10. Modulating with the LFO's
      8m 9s
    11. Using the Vibrato, Velocity and Controllers
      6m 40s
    12. Introducing the Control Envelope
      6m 15s
    13. Recording the Envelope Shape with a MIDI Controller
      5m 57s
    14. Looping with the Control Envelopes
      5m 46s
    15. Transitioning between settings the Morph Pad
      6m 10s
    16. Employing the Morph Envelope
      9m 48s
    17. Composing with Sculpture
      10m 52s
  14. 2h 4m
    1. Getting started with Ultrabeat
      2m 54s
    2. Exploring the Assignment section
      6m 22s
    3. Importing settings into Ultrabeat
      4m 19s
    4. Synthesizing with Oscillator 2
      7m 42s
    5. Using Oscillator 1 and the noise generator
      4m 36s
    6. Shaping with the envelopes
      7m 21s
    7. Filtering and setting distortion
      8m 36s
    8. Adding movement with the LFOs
      8m 23s
    9. Refining the sound with EQ in the Output section
      6m 10s
    10. Building a kick drum
      8m 18s
    11. Synthesizing a snare drum
      8m 31s
    12. Creating a hi-hat
      4m 34s
    13. Introduction to the step sequencer
      5m 54s
    14. Sequencing in the step sequencer
      7m 18s
    15. Working with the playback options
      5m 1s
    16. Sequencing automation in Step Edit mode
      5m 3s
    17. Utilizing the side chain
      9m 2s
    18. Composing with Ultrabeat
      14m 13s
  15. 7m 24s
    1. Introducing and composing with the Klopfgeist
      7m 24s
  16. 1m 12s
    1. What's next?
      1m 12s

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Watch the Online Video Course Virtual Instruments in Logic Pro
13h 10m Intermediate Nov 09, 2011 Updated Mar 14, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Join author Brian Trifon as he shows how to improve music and audio productions using virtual instruments in Logic Pro. This course tours the program's virtual instruments, including the ES2 hybrid synthesizer, Sculpture physical modeling synthesizer, EFM1 FM synthesizer, the EVOC 20 vocoder, the Ultrabeat drum synthesizer, and the EXS24 sampler, and shows how to achieve various effects with each instrument's parameters. The course also covers working with oscillators and filters, understanding signal flow, creating custom synthesizer patches, adding effects, synthesizing speech, creating a library of custom sound samples, and much more.

Virtual Instruments with Logic Pro will be updating on a monthly basis, eventually covering all the virtual instruments in the application. Look for the latest movies here and on the blog.

Topics include:
  • Setting up Logic Pro for using virtual instruments
  • Configuring MIDI controllers
  • Composing with virtual instruments envelopes
  • Tweaking the overdrive and chorus
  • Creating movement with LFOs (Low Frequency Oscillators)
  • Understanding FM synthesis basics
  • Changing the timbre and shifting the formants of the vocoder
  • Constructing custom sampler kits
  • Exploring the tonewheel organ, electric piano, and Ultrabeat drum synthesizer
Audio + Music
Logic Pro
Brian Trifon

Creating movement with the LFO

One way that I can add constant modulation to the signal that's periodic is using this LFO that's down here in the bottom. So an LFO is much like an audio-rate oscillator, like these ones above--the primary oscillator and sub-oscillator-- in that it generates a periodic waveform, so even some of the same types of waveforms: triangle waveform, square waveform. The difference is instead of sending to the amplifier so that we can hear the signal, it's sending a control signal. For example, I could assign this to modulate the filter cutoff.

And instead of it being like an envelope where it's a one-time deal, it's going to consistently modulate this cutoff in a periodic way. And I can set the rate with this Rate control here. So you can see that goes in hertz. Hertz are cycles per second, so it can be a fraction of a hertz, or it can go all the way up to almost 25 Hz. If we go the other direction with this, we can see its divisions of the beat, like quarter notes, dotted half notes, so on and so forth. In order to use the LFO, because it doesn't generate a sound and it's a control signal, we have to assign it to something.

So the place we do that is the router. So we're going to be looking at this series of spaces here on the left, and this is where we can assign the different parameters to the LFO. So right now we've got Pitch. That's the one that's engaged, so that means this LFO can modulate the pitch. So in order to do so, we actually have to increase the intensity of the modulation. That's what this slider is, right here. So right now, it's set to 0, but we can increase the intensity and we'll start to hear the pitch modulation. So I'll play a note. (music playing) Very easy to hear the pitch modulation. And as I increase the intensity, it's a wider range of pitches-- and it's kind of obnoxious.

So I can adjust this rate though, slow this down, and then I'll increase the intensity. We can hear it's really wide range of pitch. Or I could have this be synced to some division of the beat. So here are quarter notes, and I'll decrease the intensity. (music playing) So that's one way we can do it. And while we're at it, we should explore these different waveforms too, because things really react differently depending on what type of waveform this low-frequency oscillator is generating.

So right now we have a triangle waveform, and it's very consistent. Then sort of the opposite of that is this square wave. So pitch modulation is a really good way to explore things, because it's very easy to hear. So when I have a square wave, notice it's jumping between two pitches. So it isn't a smooth transition between the pitches; it's just jumping. And the more intensity of this modulation I give it, it's a wider range of pitches that's jumping. If I give this full intensity, it's actually a useful interval, it's an octave.

So it's like an instant new-order baseline. (music playing) And then of course you can adjust the rate, and that can sometimes be an interesting effect in and of itself when you get to higher rates. (music playing) [00:0314.00] Create an interesting sound. The other waveform we have here is we have a ramp-up. So it's kind of like a sawtooth waveformm, but it's not complete. It's just the positive portion, where it's ramping up. (music playing) So the pitch is ascending like that , and you can actually use this to create musical effects, especially when it's something that's synced to the tempo of your song.

So right here, this would be one measure. So every measure we would get this pitch up, or we could have the opposite of that, have a pitch-down. That's this next one, this ramp-down shape here. (music playing) And of course, I can adjust the rate of that. (music playing) And remember, if I adjust the intensity, I'm going to get less of the pitch range. So if I decrease the intensity, it's going to be a smaller pitch adjustment.

And then the other waveforms that we have here are two random waveforms. We have this one here that steps between values. This is called a sample-and-hold waveform where it will just jump between random values. (music playing) So I'll increase the speed of this so we can hear this. (music playing) So it's randomly jumping between pitches, and the range of those pitches is determined by its intensity. So I'll decrease that. (music playing) So the other random waveform here is just an interpolated random waveform.

So it's going to go between random values, but it's going to smoothly transition between each one. (music playing) So a very kind of confusing sound. I'll change its octave so we can have something that's a little higher pitched. (music playing) So it's randomly interpolating between these values. So that's how we apply this LFO to pitch. Probably one of the most common ways it's used is you'll have an LFO set to this triangle waveform and then we can set a range so that the mod wheel will control the amount of modulation that's happening.

So notice that for this Intensity control here, above it it says intensity via wheel. That means intensity via mod wheel. So I'll set a range here. So when I set it like this, that's going to be a full range. So when I have my mod wheel all the way down at its closed position, that means I'll have no pitch modulation. So if I play right now, no pitch modulation happening. If I adjust the mod wheel, I open it up, and then you can hear the pitch modulation, and it's the full range.

So if I didn't want such a drastic pitch modulation--I want more of a subtle vibrato-- what I'm going to do is bring down this maximum amount here, so this top part of the slider. So here's with no mod wheel and I'll open up the mod wheel. It's still a little bit extreme, but it's a more subtle vibrato here. I'll bring that down even more. Or if I bring down the mod wheel, no vibrato. So this is a good way with any of the modulations that you have happening with the LFO to scale it using your mod wheel.

So let's see what these other destinations are here. Pitch was the first one. The next one is Pulse Width. So Pulse Width really only applies when you have the pulse waveform selected. So right now, when I adjust it, you don't hear anything. That's because I have the sawtooth waveform selected. So what I want to do is I'm going to set the balance between the two oscillators all the way up to the primary oscillator. I'm going to set it to the square waveform, which has Pulse Width modulation.

Okay, so now you can hear that that's happening. I can slow the speed of this modulation, so it's a little easier to hear. (music playing) All right, so you can hear the Pulse Width modulating. And actually on our oscilloscope, if I zoom in a little bit-- (music playing) --you can see that change happening. I'll move this back out of the way a little bit. (music playing) And if I wanted it to be less of a range, like I don't want this Pulse Width modulation to happen all the way from its minimum to its maximum, I can decrease the intensity here.

So I'll give it less intensity. (music playing) So it's going to be a more subtle Pulse Width, modulation whereas if I have this at its max -- (music playing) --it's going to be a full cycle of modulation. And I can increase the speed and it becomes almost a texture change. And it sounds like it's detuning. So this is actually a common thing in a lot of electronic music: you'll hear these sort of detuned Pulse Width modulated sounds. A lot it sometimes is actually just a fast Pulse Width modulation. You'll get the sense of it being detuned a bit. (music playing) And as I slow it down, that's more subtle.

And of course, I can sync it to a division of the beat. (music playing) And it's always good to explore it with different waveforms as well. So we could try it with the square waveform where we're just going to jump between pulse positions. (music playing) So maybe this is cool if I have less intensity. (music playing) So you can almost get those 8-bit Gameboy sounds out of that. Or if I go in the other direction and I sync it to the beats, so I'll sync it to 16th notes-- (music playing) And I'll adjust the intensity just to find our sweet spot. It sounds good.

So sometimes having it set to a subtle amount ends up working better than having a real extreme setting. But actually the extreme setting is pretty cool, too. (music playing) Let's try at a slower rate. (music playing) And then, of course, this can also be scaled by the mod wheel as well. So if I split this part here, then right now when I play it, my mod wheel is all the way closed, all the way down. There's no Pulse Width modulation. I'm going to open it up, and there it is, and so of course, that works for any of these destinations here.

So the next one on here is Mix control. So what that's going to adjust is the balance between the primary oscillator and the sub-oscillator. So the LFO is going to automatically control that. The optimal way to set this up is to actually have your mix set in the center, and then you'll hear it better. So I'll set this to the triangle waveform here. (music playing) So you can hear every half note it's transitioning between this primary oscillator and the sub-oscillator.

So it's just smoothly moving this Mix slider up and down. So I can try it with different waveforms as well. (music playing) It's a great thing to spend time and experiment with ,because a lot of times you'll find all kinds of sounds that you would have never intended to make, but that are really cool, by just simple modulation. It's not always complex stuff; sometimes it's just the simple things. (music playing) So this is just adjusting the mix between the two. Let's try it with the square wave, so now it's just going to jump between the two.

(music playing) Or I could have the random waveforms here. (music playing) The random interpolated one. (music playing) So that's a good way to explore that mix balance and the texture that that creates. The next destination we've got here is Cutoff. So that's the filter cutoff; that's what that means. I'll set that to a triangle waveform and modulate it. (music playing) So that sounds a lot like wah-wah.

That's exactly what a wah-wah is. It's a lowpass filter, or sometimes a bandpass filter, that's being modulated. Well, sometimes it's a wah-wah pedal that's by your foot, or if it's an auto wah, it's an LFO that's doing that, or sometimes an envelope. So I'll set basically my Cutoff to the middle position that I want for the modulation. It's a little different than an envelope. An envelope, you usually set it to the minimum position. For Cutoff, I'm going to set it to the middle, because when you have for example a triangle wave that your LFO is generating, the cutoff is going to be modulated both in a positive direction above your starting point and then in the negative direction beneath it.

So you'll kind of want to find something in the middle. (music playing) And if you have less intensity of modulation, it's going to be less amount in each direction. (music playing) And same thing, you can adjust the rate. (music playing) And adjusting the intensity is going to be a larger range of filter modulation. So it's definitely useful for that.

And of course, don't forget to scale it with your mod wheel. That's a convenient way to be able to control it in a musical way where you don't constantly have modulation, but then you use your mod wheel and then there it is. So the next parameter we've got in here is Resonance, and that's just going to do the same thing that happened with Cutoff, where it's going to periodically modulate this Resonance control. And so again, I want to start this in sort of the center point that I want, because it will modulate both in positive and negative around it. (music playing) So it's kind of interesting. I'll increase the rate of this.

(music playing) So that's the resonance being modulated. And of course, make sure to try it with other waveforms. Try the ramp. And the ramp in the other direction. (music playing) Or you could try a square waveform. It will just jump between two resonant positions. (music playing) So definitely very interesting. And then last but not least, in terms of these destinations in the router for this LFO, we've got volume.

In the case of square wave, it's going to be kind of like a tremolo effect where it'll just gate the sound on and off. (music playing) Especially if you have got high intensity for it. (music playing) Or if I have triangle waveform, you can hear the volume changing. So I just imagine this LFO as sending a control signal to this Volume slider here. It's basically just moving it up and down. And of course, it doesn't animate that, but you can hear that happening, and it's good to experiment with different waveforms. (music playing) Or you could have it all ramp up. (music playing) Kind of has a sidechain-compression type sound. (music playing) So the LFO is definitely useful for creating movement, and it's nice that in ES 1 you can assign where that LFO is going, and what it's going to modulate, and how that's going to sound.

So next, let's explore this modulation envelope which has all the same destinations, and actually a few more.

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