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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.
Have you ever recorded a take where the feel and spirit of the performance is right on, but the rhythm is lacking a little? Flex Time is a new feature in Logic 9 that allows you to conform an out of time audio performance to match better with your song, so the next time the singer botches the rhythm a little, or the guitar player just can't quite lock-in with the drummer, this tool allows you to seamlessly fix those parts without altering the fidelity of the sound. Flex Time uses slice technology, much like other well-known programs, like ReCycle or Ableton Live. Let's see how it works. Let's take a listen to this song.
Especially pay attention to the wah guitar. (Music playing.) Okay. It sounds to me like the wah guitar, between bars 3 and 5, is a little out of time. We are going to use Flex Time to fix this. Let's zoom in a little bit on these tracks.
Okay. So we get our view nice and good. You can see the wah guitar regions we need to change. We are going to actually use the Congas as a guide track to help us with the rhythm of the wah guitar. To get into Flex Mode, go up to View > Flex View. Command+F also opens Flex View. You will notice that a couple of different pulldown menus appear in the audio tracks. If you open up one of these menus, you see all of the different algorithms that you can use in Flex Time. These modes operate Flex Time in different ways, depending on what your content is of your track. Slicing Mode simply separates at the transients of audio.
It doesn't perform any time compression or expansion. It's really good for drums and percussion. Rhythmic Flex Mode time stretches the material, but doesn't pitch shift it. It's really good for rhythm guitars, keyboard parts, and Apple Loops. Monophonic is optimized for voice or melodic instruments, playing single notes. Polyphonic is optimized for chordal instruments, like keyboards. The Tempophone is the effect of a historical tape-based time stretching device called the tempophone. You can use that for special effects. Finally, the Speed Mode pitch shifts as it stretches.
First we are going to turn on Flex Time for the Congas track. Let's use Slicing Mode. As soon as you select it, the track gets analyzed and we can see some of the transients are showing up with white lines going across the region. This is good, because we are going to use these as a guide while we Flex Time the wah guitar track. Let's turn on Rhythmic Flex timing for the wah guitar track. Again, it analyzes the track, you see the transients, and we also see a Flex tool that showed up. When you are at the bottom of the region with the Flex tool, it turns into three Flex tools and the top is just one.
Clicking with three Flex tools creates three Flex markers. Clicking with one creates one. These Flex markers are what we are going to use to move the sounds around in time. So now, using the Congas as a rhythmic guide, we are going to move some of these transients around to match the Conga. As you move, you will notice there's some color-coding. When the audio is orange, it means it has been time stretched. When it's green, it means it has been time compressed. So we are just going to match some of these transients and hopefully the sounds will get back in time. It's kind of a trial and error thing.
You have to move them around and then listen, but you can see how I am moving these transients to match the Congas track. Okay. Let's hit C to Cycle and let's listen to this region. (Music playing.) It sounds pretty good! Maybe this one needs a little adjustment back. (Music playing.) Perfect! For the second region, I am going to do something slightly different. I will select it, and then we are going to actually go up into the Region parameters box.
Now that we have analyzed the track with Flex Mode, we can actually quantize the audio, just like we would do with MIDI events. Let's open the Quantize menu and choose 16th note. All the transients have now quantized to 16th note grid. This should work with our song too. Let's move this cycle over there and listen to that region. (Music playing.) That's great! Let's hear both of them together. (Music playing.) Great! Remember, at any time, you can disable Flex Mode and go back to your original performance.
Just click back in the Flex Mode menu and go to off. (Music playing.) There's our original out of time performance. We can go back to Rhythmic and all our Flex Time markers are still there. When you are done, you can disable Flex View by going back up into the View menu and unchecking Flex View. Even with Flex View off, we still have the benefits of the Flex work we did. (Music playing.) Also, you can use the Flex tool, in the toolbox, without having to go into Flex View.
Hit Escape to open your toolbox and choose the Flex tool, and once you Flex Time analyzed your tracks, you can move any transient around with this tool, as you see I am doing with the wah track. With the magic of Flex Time, Logic makes audio act like MIDI, where any performance can be re-timed without the destructive reprocessing and loss of audio quality that can be associated with time stretched processing. It's powerful stuff. Feel free to use Flex Time on vocals, bass, guitars, drums, any sound that you need to lock into the groove better.
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