Making great music is not just about talent and creativity. It’s also about efficiency and the mastery of your tools. Despite its user-friendly design, Logic Pro is a deeply complex platform that offers more features than you can probably imagine. So if you’re feeling like your current workflow is slowing down the translation of your creative ideas into a tangible track, then listen up! We’ve got a slew of Logic Pro shortcuts and tips that will streamline your workflow and keep your project clicking along.
We’re going to delve into the depths of Logic Pro, providing you with practical tips, techniques, and shortcuts that can help streamline your workflow.
This week we’re letting Fabio from Noize help us navigate Logic more efficiently, ultimately allowing your creative process to flow more smoothly with tips that are actually useful!
But before we begin, we want you to know about our $500 giveaway! If you’re one of the first 500 people to sign up for an artist profile at Boombox, you’ll automatically have a chance to win! Seriously, it only takes two minutes. What are you waiting for?
Let’s dive in.
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Quantize / Velocity
Let’s take a listen to the chords Fabio has come up with first.
We’re going to quantize them with Command-A, then hit Q. We wanna make them all the same length, so we’ll hit Shift, backward slash, click Shorten, Enter, and then we have our sustained chords.
The expression is a little different per chord because they were placed at different velocities. We want them to be the same, so we’ll do Option-Shift, and then we’ll adjust the Velocity slider which will snap them so that they’re all the exact same velocity.
However, there’s another way to edit the velocity. If you want it to increase in intensity over time, we’ll open the velocity editor, and then you’ll be able to click and drag to create an increasing slope. You’ll see the chords change color a bit too, from low to higher velocity. So the expression will start out nice and soft, and then increases as the chords play out.
If you’re using a piano where you might find perfectly quantized, sustained chords to be a bit unnatural or boring, you can hit Select All, Functions, MIDI Transform, Humanize, click Operate Only. What you’ll notice is that it’s changed the velocity and the start point of each note.
For this next MIDI transform, we’ll do Functions, MIDI Transform, then we’ll Reverse Position the chords. Click Select and Operate since we don’t already have them selected. If they’re not quantized it won’t do this very well, so make sure you quantize them. We also want to do this to bounce them to audio. The shortcut for this is Control-B. The settings there are pretty simple to understand.
We’re also going to take a look at the left-hand menu (under “More”) and select Reverse. Now you’ll drag your original chords back in and what we’ll end up with is this very cool, sweeping piano effect. It’s just a quick, easy way to make that piano part so much more interesting.
Just a couple of final tricks now with MIDI. Sometimes you want to bring them up and down an octave. Hold Option+Shift and then up/down on your arrow keypad. If you want to move octaves note by note, just hold Option without Shift. This will save you the time it takes to click and drag, which can sometimes be inaccurate if you’re not careful.
Our favorite trick. You’ll first have to quantize the MIDI through the left-hand panel. In our example, we’ve selected 1/16th note, and then you’ll see Q-Flam will become available. If you increase the Q-Flam, you’ll get these slightly-staggered notes instead of just a straight chord. If you’re wanting that romantic Drake-style vibe, this is the trick to use.
As you can see in the example, all the loops are at slightly different BPMs. Select them, go to Edit, Time Stretch, and then Time Stretch Region Length to Nearest Bar. And voila! All of your loops are now in time.
But let’s say you dragged in just one loop and you don’t want to trouble yourself with the whole process. There’s actually an easier way. If you go to the very edge of the loop at the bottom-right-hand corner, hold Option, and you’ll notice that the Fade tool turns into a Multi-Flex tool. Now you can just click and nudge it into place.
This is a great shortcut for when you’re dealing with a lot of audio, and especially when you edit vocals. You can click, drag, and highlight as many audio regions as you need, and then if you hit Control+Shift and click/drag over the back end, you’ll be able to quickly add a fade to all of them.
If you keep Control+Shift held down you can extend or shorten the fade or even add some bends. This shortcut makes it super easy to adjust fades on multiple audio regions at once.
Now this next technique is something that’s helped us to be more creative with loops. You want a set of loops that are fairly busy, highlight them all, right click, and select Pack Take Folder. Typically you pack a take folder when you have many vocal recordings.
However, when you do it with loops, you can chop and choose different sections of the loop to create a whole brand new one, depending on your selection.
For example, we’ll select some random sections from the different loops we have dragged in. You’ll see up at the top the new compilation that we’ve created. If anyone ever gives you any guff for using loops, just show them this technique.
If you want to quickly repeat sections of audio or MIDI, make sure that you have the Marquee tool set up as your Command-click tool. This means that when you hold Command, you can use the Marquee tool to select a section, and if you want to repeat it, just hit Command+R and you can repeat sections as many times as you want.
Regions / Fades
Let’s say you’ve got a lot of audio selected across your whole track and they’re not perfectly in sequence with each other. First, select your audio regions, and then we’ll go to the Regions inspector (upper left-hand menu) and you’ll see we have a Fade-In and Fade-Out.
We can increase and decrease these fades incrementally which gives us just a bit more control. You can also change the Fade-Out to a Slow Down which gives us this very cool tape-stop effect.
With this inspector, you can pitch up and down without the need for a plugin. In the video example, let’s say we wanted to increase the pitch to give it a brighter tone. Go over to the left-hand menu to Transpose and increase to +5. This works not only for our percussive elements but also our piano tracks from before. We’ll bring the piano part down to -12 semitones (down one octave).
Keep in mind that you can do this to any audio. But if you have a piece of reversed audio, you’ll have to remember to Bounce in Place (that’s Control+B).
You can nudge MIDI and audio regions forwards and backwards depending on how you set the Delay ticks. In our example, Fabio pushes the hats to make them “lazier.”
We want to automate the cutoff on this synthesizer. But before that, we’ll go into Mix and select Autoselect Automation Parameter in Read Mode. When we have the automation window open, this means that anything you press within the synthesizer (or any other effect you have open) will immediately register in full automation in the window.
So now you can click on the audio region and very quickly make your changes in automation without having to go through a long list of stuff. Now wherever you click you can change that setting directly from the synth.
We’ll do the same with some Reverb. You’ll create two points in the region to increase it towards the end. Check out the video example for a clearer picture of this. Now we have multiple levels of automation. If you want to see all of them at once, just hold Option and click on the arrow shown in the video example.
From here, you can select Control+Shift, and this gives you an automation curve tool so that you can add curves as you see fit. Drag up, down, or if you go side to side, you get some S-curves that make things a little more interesting.
Copying & Pasting Automation
If you use the Marquee tool (just like with the audio regions), we can select a section and just hit Command+R. This will only copy/paste the automation, however. It won’t copy/paste the region underneath. The automation will keep repeating but without the region being copied.
Many producers like to automate volume. Personally, we think you should be automating a Gain on your Utility parameter. That’s Utility->Gain->Stereo. With this, you can still have control over your volume fader.
However, if you’ve already performed a bunch of volume automation, it can take forever to convert that over to gain automation unless you do the following: Go to Volume, hold Option, click, go to the plugin that you want (Gain, and then Gain again). It’ll ask us if we want to Copy and Convert, or just Convert. We’re selecting Convert. It’s going to take all of that automation data and apply it directly to the Gain, replacing the volume automation by automating the Gain dial instead.