Join Todd Howard for an in-depth discussion in this video Solidifying the groove with a compelling bassline as a musical hook, part of Learning Songwriting: Logic Pro.
Well, there's one thing no rock song can live without and that's a driving bass part, and being a rock bassist, first and foremost, I take heart in this philosophy. I've got my five string electric bass here and I've plugged it into the apagy duet. Now I don't have any sound because I need to go over to my interface settings. In this case, the Apogee Maestro 2, and make sure that everything is set up here. So first of all, you're going to have different settings on your interface. They may be actually be on the front of the device, and the Apogee Duet also has on-board controls, but I'll just do it from here so you can get the gist.
Make sure we're set to instrument rather than mic. I'll keep this off limiter on, because if I do clip, i'd rather have it limited here than get distortion in the channel. So if there's any problem there, i'll come and change the level, but for now i'm going to leave that on, especially with bass since it's so big. Okay, and I set my level here, i'll play a little bit and we'll see what it looks like. Okay, obviously way too loud. Click that clip indicator to turn that off, and bring that down to ten and see where we're at. Still a little high for my taste. Seven. If I take the limiter off, how'd we do it, still clipping like crazy.
So let's take this down a little bit more, six. So it is clipping on the really low notes, but I'm going to go ahead and turn that off and keep the limiter on Looking pretty good, okay. So for now 48 K, everything's good here. My headphone volume, if I was monitoring through the headphones of the Apogee, can be controlled here, but the headphones I'm using are connected to the computer, so I'm okay with that for now. 'Kay, hide this, Cmd+H. Back to the project, and on my bass channel. Go ahead and select it. You can see there's already a noise gate, a bass amp, a channel eq with some sort of pre determined curve which I'm definitely going to have to deal with at some point, and a compressor.
The one thing that's missing, and something that I need right away when I'm using an instrument like the bass is, I need to tune up. So, you can insert right into your channel strip a metering plug in. Tuner and double check your tuning. Okay, and I need to make sure that my input monitoring is on, and we'll arm this for record just to keep that track live so I can hear the bass playing through. Okay, now I'll check my tuning here. Get things pretty close and see where we're at. We're all together Bring that up a little bit until we're green.
All right, a little off with the E here. Couple of is going to be fine. Almost undetectable. My intonation's a little funky, but we'll be fine. Close enough for rock and roll. Let's close this tuner plug in in, and actually I'm going to leave it on my channel strip here, but bypassed, so I don't need it at the moment. Okay, so what do we have? Pretty solid DI sound. It's not very loud, so I'm hoping to get a little bit more out of this compressor and I'm down by one db so let's go up to plus four maybe. Okay, overloading, option click to bring that back down to zero and maybe we'll bring this down to only a plus three.
Okay, that'll work, clear these clip indicators, close that, and let's bring up the bass amp plugin real quick and take a look at what we have. So this is just the direct box. I can adjust the tone here. A bunch of different settings. I can boost it, turn off the high frequency cut, let some highs through. (MUSIC) Or, better yet, let's look in the preset list and see what we have going on here.
First of all, there's a bunch of different Amp presets that you can step through and listen to. (MUSIC) Really crunchy DI. That's a little stinky for this one. That's really growly. Big bottom. How low can you go? Still not really liking it. I think we're going to go back to the stack and then work with it.
So once you choose a sound that you like as a starting point, you can start to mess with the amp settings themselves Might even move this over so I can see my levels. I don't want to clip. Bring that up a little. Little too loud there, tiny bit. Little more compression. Make sure that's on. Bottom in. That sounds pretty good. Three different mid settings. That's pretty good. No low. Real low. Medium low. I like this first one better. Whoa! And this is a softer hard knee on the compressor so we'll leave it on soft.
If you really want to get an EQ directly, you can work right in here with this EQ, and that's just for this particular head. You can also work mic position. If you want to move it around you can move that microphone around. I'm going to get it right on the cone there. But I don't want a condenser. Enjoy the dynamic mic. That sounds pretty cool. I think I'm going to keep it on the condenser. Great. So there's a base sound we can work with, and then, because it's definitely more interesting and inspiring to record against tracks that sound cool. I just want to spend a minute tweaking compression and reverb on the drums and the mandola. Make sure we have something that sounds pretty cool. Over here in the inspector, I'll have direct access to the mandola channel strip or the rock kit.
Start with the rock kit. Solo it out and we get a little reverb goin'. Sounds pretty good. Check the compression. Okay. I was wondering why the threshold wasn't reacting at all, and that's because our compression ratio is completely off, one to one. I was just getting a little bit of gain out of there and thinking hm, that should be sounding different. Make sure your ratio is set to something at least like two to one before you really start hearing it. I might even go as much as three or four to one for drums. So you can either slide or you can type it. In this case, 4.1, and then I'm going to adjust the threshold and look at the gain reduction that I'm getting.
So that's a lot. Okay, so, I'm changing the dynamic so that everything that is louder than minus 23 is getting a chance to come through the compression circuit. You can see by this light up here how much gain is being taken off the signal. So then you can make up the gain that's being taken off by soft bouncing down around three or four. So I'm bringing this up to four to really fill that out and also watching my levels over here so I'm not clipping. If you click on stereo out here, in the channel strip that you're working on, the second one will become your output channel strip. So we can make sure that there's no clipping going on there either.
Okay, that sounds pretty good. It's loud, it's not clipping. When we do a real mix, these'll all come down so we can blend everything, but for now that'll work out just fine. Solo the mandola. 'Kay all we had was the BPM counter, we can get rid of that. Let's add in the compressor as well. Try something a little different this time. In fact, let's see what's in the preset list here. Maybe guitar, platinum acoustic, let's see what happens. I think I like that cut on acoustic one or two. Now that sounds great. Okay, I'm going to pull the level down just a little bit more. And then let's see, if I press on x in the mixer, what our reverb options are, if we put a little bit of reverb on that mandolin as well.
So plate. Vocal short haul, long ambiance, and drum booth four. So let's just go to the short vocal haul here. This is going to be, I think it's bus three. Yep, checking which bus it is, and then over here back on my mandola channel, I'm going to set the send to bus three, and if I option click on the send it'll bring it all the way up to full, and I can hear what that sound really sounds like, and then roll off to figure out how much of it I'd like. Okay cool that sounds pretty good let's see on solo and listen to both together.
>> Okay, cool. I'm ready to track some bass because I'm liking that sound. Okay, I move my bass track right up underneath the mandola track. Its input monitoring is on, its record enabled. I'm happy with the sound for now. So I'm going to go ahead and improvise some bass parts and try to see if I can come up with something that works well. With this groove, so the way to do that and keep all of your performances so it's sort of a multi take situation is to turn on Cycle Record which you can turn on by clicking here or if you don't see that al all, you can actually just click and drag to draw one in here, and make it go from about bar 5 to 21, this whole 16 bar section which is going to probably end up making up a verse.
I mean, most verses tend to be somewhere around 16, 12, or 8 bars. So let's just start wide, we can always narrow down from here. Then when I press play It automatically starts at that spot, so hit return, it goes back to the beginning. So I'm going to record bass and what will happen is when it returns back to the beginning after looping, it'll create a new bass track and record it as a second take and this is Logic's default behavior. Okay, and I'm going to press r to start. I'll get one bar of pre-roll or count off, then I'll be able to start And hit stop.
So, I was starting to come up with some interesting ideas there, but as you can see, what happened was it recorded the whole first pass and then the whole second pass, and now this top line represents which one you've chosen. So if I click on the first take. That's the one I'm going to hear. Okay. Or, take two. That slidey stuff is the stuff I'm digging. So, let's see, what I can do now is just go ahead and press record again and it'll start take three and save these. So I can listen to, now let me just peek here and see what I was doing at the end too. because some of that was interesting. That slidey ups and then maybe going down as an alternate.
That's pretty cool, okay. Let's see, still armed? going to press record again. Undo command Z and R start again. Okay. So I think I can probably make some good bass lines out of what I just recorded. Those few takes. I'm going to put my bass down here, and the volume down. So I'm going to take the bass out of record enable, and I'll turn input monitoring off, 'because I'm no longer inputting. I can turn this clip off. Clearly, I went over somewhere along the line there. But hopefully it wasn't actually in the recording. But I'm not totally sure at this point. I might want to back off that level a little bit on the maestro if I do record again.
Maybe record at five but for now I think we're probably okay. Let's just stick with it. You might want to go ahead and save at this point anytime you've done a multiple take recording so that those performances are not lost. Okay so let's see what we got. Turn off Cycle Record so we can start anywhere we like. By the way I just double-clicked in the ruler there to get it playing. Well, this part is good here, so, all I did was click and swipe, you know, basically creating different areas that you would like the part to pull from and they all become comped together in the top row here so you can adjust these at any time.
Select different ones at any time and erase them by swiping through until you complete to another one. So I liked this part, so first the first thing I did was say, well, this is going to start here. Except there's a mistake, so. Maybe come down here and see what's there. Right up to the waveform. Okay, so right here on this beat. Okay, so that's not going to work there and we don't have another part that works there, unless this is right, I don't think it is, but let's check. Okay, so I'm starting to feel like I'm writing a part here that I really like One option would be to sort of learn from the comping experience here to sort of teach myself the part that now creatively I like.
That's one approach. Another is to continue working with this comp until you get what you want. Flattening it all down into one region, and then chopping that up and moving it around, that's another way to go. Or just learn the part, and go back and re-record. So, for the sake of this demonstration, if you wanted to flatten and merge all of these comps into one take, you could work with that waveform going forward. You just click on this little a at the top of the Take Folder and you can see how you can automatically choose 3201. You can save multiple different comps. Quick Swipe Comping is setting that's on, which is what I was just doing within the individual takes before, and here you can see flatten and merge.
There's a bunch of other choices, as well. You can unpack them to new individual tracks. You can move the active comp to a new track and then create a new comp, and more, even rename or duplicate. Like a flatten and merge, and you'll see that it takes this entire bass part, compresses it down, merges them all with cross fade's of about 20 milliseconds into one big file. Okay, so this one is one that I actually like the beginning of, you can always go trim. Trim, take this and option click drag it to copy it back here, now I've got.
So I clearly have to continue working with that, but that's another way that you can do comps, edit them down and then further chop and edit the file. So I am going to ahead and work off this base part some more offline here, and in the next video we'll start working on the arrangement to see how we want this song to go in terms of verses and choruses, and how many bars they are, and I'll show you some good ways of setting those up. As well as adding some new chords, maybe for the chorus. And bringing in a acoustic guitar part to layer in with the mandola. Oh, and I am not forgetting about my lyrics. I sort of been working on them here as we been going along, and I kind of came up with almost, well, some more solidity in the first verse.
I need to figure out what the kids at Woodstock were doing that rhymes in 69, but, I'll work on that in a bit and this is going to be a tough part because they broke up and all this stuff. So I gotta, like, come up with something that really works for me, both on an emotional level and also on a storytelling wise that's concise. I thought of this other line that rhymed with so and no. Restling with the news kind of a good image that I like and cliché goes if you reap what you sow maybe that's how we start the chorus and make our way back around to the hook of right what you know at the end so we'll continue exploring the lyric here as we continue throughout the course just wanted to show you where I was at there so I'm going to go refine this bass part.
Want to learn about other tools for songwriting? Check out our Songwriting series, which covers other DAWs like Pro Tools and GarageBand.