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In Logic Pro 9 Essential Training, Scott Hirsch explains how to harness the power and flexibility of Logic Pro, Apple’s popular songwriting software, to record, edit, and mix music. The course includes instruction on how to compose in Logic Pro, and spend more time being creative and less time dealing with technical uncertainties. Scott focuses on setting up a workspace, recording with both live performers and digital instruments, editing and arranging, and mixing and mastering a composition. Exercise files accompany the course.
Logic Pro is perfectly capable of running on your Mac without any external devices. However, one of Logic's strengths is its powerful MIDI recording, sequencing, and editing capabilities. Having an external MIDI input device can be very useful. Let's go over what's out there and differentiate the various types of external MIDI devices Logic can talk to. MIDI, which stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, is a technology from an earlier era. Computers don't even have standard MIDI ports on them. Today, most MIDI is transferred over USB cables instead of the 8-pin MIDI cables from the 80s.
This is how you will get MIDI into your Mac. To see what is connected to your computer, you can go to your main hard drive, Applications > Utilities > Audio MIDI Setup. Double-click on it to open. And if you don't see this window pop up, you can go to Window and make sure you say Show MIDI Window. This window shows you the types of MIDI devices that your computer currently sees. You can also test them here to make sure they are active and being communicated to by your computer. For example, we have the E-MU Xboard 49 MIDI Controller.
If I click on Test Setup, I can hit any key on our keyboard and I should see the arrow light up. (Piano notes playing in background.) That tells that the computer is now seeing and talking to that device. Now we can close Audio MIDI Setup and go back to Logic. Logic can talk to several different types of MIDI devices. Let's break them down. MIDI controllers are usually keyboard-based devices that output MIDI messages via USB to Logic. They can be used to play and control the many amazing sounding software instruments that come with Logic.
Most of them look like keyboards with some additional controls. However, they don't have to be keyboards. They can also look like drum pads, even MIDI saxophones or guitars that can spit out MIDI instead of sound. MIDI controllable devices are usually rack-mounted boxes that contain sound modules, samples or sound effects of their own. They do not control Logic, but rather Logic can be used to control them in a studio. Logic can send MIDI messages out to these devices to make them playback sounds or change effects parameters.
With the power of software effects in instruments, the popularity of these types of devices is waning, but you will see them in studios. Finally, control surfaces use MIDI not to play instruments in Logic but more to control Logic's playback system and virtual mix console. You can think of these like a big glorified computer mouse that helps control Logic via something that looks more like a mixing console than a computer keyboard and mouse. To configure your MIDI controller device in Logic, you don't have to do much. The general rule is that if your computer sees it through Audio MIDI Setup, where we just were, Logic will too.
Logic also comes with the built-in MIDI input device. I like to use this device when I only have my laptop and external controllers are not possible, like if I am on a plane or a subway train. It's called the Caps Lock Keyboard. It turns your QWERTY keyboard into a MIDI controller. Make sure to enable it by going to the Logic Pro > Preferences > General tab, and at the end, here we have Caps Lock Keys tab. Just make sure it's enabled. Now we can hit the Caps Lock on our keyboard and it activates the Caps Lock keyboard.
Like I said, this turns your QWERTY keyboard into a controller. And we can use the ASDFG line to control the white keys. (Piano notes playing.) The keys above that, WETU, those are our black keys. The number keys control what octave we are on. So if want to move over to higher octave, I can type 6? (Piano notes playing.) And get a higher octave. You can also change the transparency of the Caps Lock keyboard with this handy slider here. If you want to see objects that are underneath it at anytime.
Hit Caps Lock again to deactivate it. Control Surfaces may be configured using Logic Pro > Preferences > Control Surfaces and go to Setup. In the Setup menu, you can choose to, under the New menu, Scan All Models. This will look for and install any model you have connected to Logic. In this case, I have no new devices. But what I get after this is a list of all the devices that Logic will talk to. If you happen to own any of these devices, such as the Tascam FW-1082, you can add it here to your list of devices that Logic will talk to.
Finally, MIDI controllable devices such as the rack-mounted devices we talked about earlier require a little bit more to set up. You must be prepared to configure the specific MIDI output port you wish to communicate to your device over. This can be done by making a new external MIDI track. We will go up to Track > New > External MIDI. Create. We get a new external MIDI track. Now in the Library pane on the right- hand side, you can see a list of devices outside of our computer. In this case, we have a Yamaha Motif connected and here we can communicate over any of the available 16 channels to that device.
If I want to communicate over channel 1, I can select that. Now this external MIDI track is talking to our Yamaha Motif device outside of our computer. The MIDI capabilities of Logic are truly wonderful. You will definitely benefit from an external MIDI controller if you keep going with this program. More can be learn about MIDI technology in the "Why MIDI" chapter of this series.
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