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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.
They don't call it the Arrange window for nothing. In this video, we're going to see how the sketch of a song can be developed and arranged using tools and techniques in Logic's powerful Arrange window. Here we have a sketch of a song. The idea began with the top guitar track. Let's listen to it a little bit, solo it up. (Guitar playing.) To see if this idea would work, I recorded a bunch of instruments: bass, pedal steel, I even added some software instruments.
Now in traditional recording in composition, you've to re-record the guide tracks and redo the other instruments, try out a different arrangement for the song, but not in Logic. Here is some helpful navigation points to go over before we start altering the arrangements. When you're zooming in really close to the Arrange window and working on editing regions, you might find it hard to stay focused when the screen scrolls to update where the playhead is. Let me zoom in really close with the right arrow, Ctrl+Option. Go to the beginning of our song. You'll see what I mean.
Watch the playhead as it scrolls off the screen and the screen updates. Let me zoom in even more. See how the screen updates? This is controlled by this blue walking man. It's called Catch. You can turn Catch off, but you'll get frustrated because the second you turn it off, and you hit Play again, Catch will automatically come back on. You can make Logic stop doing this in the Global Preferences.
Go up to Logic Pro > Preferences > General and click on the Catch tab. Here we can turn this off, Catch when Logic starts. Now we're in control. If you don't want Catch to be on, turn the guy off and it won't catch. (Music playing.) When we want catch, we could simply turn it on and it will catch for us. (Music playing.) Cool! We'll leave it off for now. We'll go back to the beginning of our song. The Marquee tool is also a very useful when working with an arrangement.
I have it set as my secondary tool in the upper right of the Arrange window. This means that anytime I want, I can Command+Click. I can control playback this way too. If I Command+Click and make a little selection, Logic will play just over that selection, and stop at the end. I can also Command+Single-Click to start playback from that location. Logic will play from there. Now we are ready to alter our arrangement. Let's zoom out a little bit. I think the whole intro might be too long. If you want to try out a global edit like this, you can use a feature called Skip Cycle.
To use it, you can do two things with the locator that controls cycle. First, let's turn on Cycle by hitting C in our keyboard. I am going to zoom out a little bit. Down here at bar 35 we have a cycle. Notice in the Transport window, the cycle goes from bar 35 beat 3 to bar 39 beat 3. Let's change this to start at 39 beat 3, by double-clicking in here, 39, space, 3, Enter, and we'll change it to end at 35 beat 3, 35, space, 3.
So the first number is later in time than the second number. Look at the Cycle indicator in the bar ruler. It has some funny stripes. This is a skip cycle. When it's in this mode, Logic will now skip right over it, without missing a beat during playback. Let's hear what this sounds like. I'll move the playhead to right before and we'll hit Play. Oops! I have my marquee still over there, so let me click to disengage that. (Music playing.) That one fast, let's watch it again. See how the playhead skips right over the Skip Cycle area.
(Music playing.) This is cool. This technique lets you try out arrangement ideas involving removing bars without having to edit anything. Okay, let's make another one, only this time we are going to click and drag in a time ruler right to left, from bar 52 to bar 20. Scroll down a little bit. Okay, I can see in the Transport bar, it goes from 52 to bar 20, but bar 20 is at beat 3, so let me click and drag on that, until I get it down to beat 1, from 52 to bar 20.
This is a 32 beat skip cycle. Let's hear what that sounds like. Zoom out a little bit, again, we'll play it from right before. We'll see what it sounds like when it skips over that section. (Music playing.) It sounds good. It doesn't miss a beat, and that's the part I wanted to cut out of the intro. So now to commit to this change, it's pretty easy. You can go up to the local Edit menu, choose Cut/Insert Time and Snip: Cut Sections between Locators.
This automatically cuts all the regions and closes the gap that we had where our skip cycle was. Some other useful arranging tools are folders. Just like folders on your desktop, you can pack tracks in to folders for the ease of editing. The guitar, bass, low guitar and steel all go together. So let's pack them in a folder. I am going to zoom out a little bit and I'll drag a selection around all these regions, like that. Now, going to the Regions menu, choose Folder and say Pack Folder.
You can also do this with Shift+Command+F. As you can see, all the tracks are packed into one folder. This lets you work with them as a group. It makes things a little easier. When you are ready to unpack them, you can go back into Region, back into Folder and you have two options. You can Unpack Folder to new tracks or you can use existing tracks. Since these already have the same tracks they are in before, we'll choose this one. If you have any regions that were overlapping due to comp takes or other editing, Logic will ask if you want to put them on their own tracks. In this case, we'll choose No.
All the regions went back to their original tracks. Finally, if you have too many tracks out in your Arrange window when you are editing and you want to work in a cleaner space, you can, at anytime, hide tracks. To do this, click the H button. It's next to the Catch. You will now see an H in all of your track headers. Select all the tracks you want to hide. In this case we'll hide guitar, bass, low guitar and steel, then click the H again at the top of the Arrange window. All those tracks will be hidden and the H will turn orange to indicate we have hidden tracks.
To show them again, click on the H. That's how you can show and hide tracks. When you are arranging compositions, these techniques make it easy to try out as many things as you want. You don't have to get the orchestra or the band to play it again. We are trading time for creativity. That's what it's all about.
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