Saturday, August 31, 2013

Logic X and all that Jazz

While I've been off on my Noatikl Generative Music for the iPad tutorials, something (finally) happened on the desktop. Apple released the long expected update to Logic - Logic Pro X.

There are by now tons of video walkthroughs and reviews - summing up, its a great upgrade, unfortunately no 32 bit plugin support - new interface and features.

For me it was an easy upgrade and I am loving the program overall. My favorite musical genre is Jazz and most of my songs, if you follow them are done with MIDI controllers - indeed I don't even have a decent microphone and rarely work with audio files with the exception of mixdowns or drum loops.

Here is a piece I'm pretty pleased with that I put together on Logic Pro X:

This is a jazz piece featuring brush kit drums, Suitcase Mk IVelectric piano, electric guitar, fretless bass, Tenor sax, Trumpet and Korg M1. Semi-fusion sort of thing. I wanted to get a bouncy feel to the rhythm section first and made use of Logic X's Track Stacks and MIDI effects.

First, the drums - Logic Pro X has an incredible drummer track feature that will build beats for you in many styles - alter them based on the section of the music and let you have them automatically follow other tracks if you like - sounds perfect....except, of the many genres supported, Jazz isn't one of them!

Jazz drums usually feature rides, hihats and snares much more than kicks. I hope they add that to the Drummer track facility someday. But, for this piece, I resorted to some good sampled brush kits that I assembled into sections and fills. I don't use many loops anymore but for drums I still will at times. I used The Loop Loft's Art of the Brushes for this one.

For the rest of the rhythm section, I wanted to have the bass, piano and guitar sync'ed up and I used the track stack feature. Track stacks in Logic X let you select multiple tracks, group them and then it lets you have them all respond to the same MIDI events at once. I used this facility along with some of the MIDI effects to put together the bass, piano and guitar parts.

For the guitar, I used the MIDI Chord feature to automatically generate chords from one-note played on the keyboard. With just the Bass and guitar selected, I could play one key on the track stack and have the bass play the note "as is" and have the guitar play the corresponding chord.

Next I wanted the piano part to bounce around a bit. Here I also put the MIDI Chord effect on the piano track but after the MIDI chord, I put the MIDI arpeggiator. This took the chord as played and then "arpeggiated" it through the chord in 16th notes. I used some of the arpeggiator options to randomize the note lengths, octaves played and randomized the order of notes.

Now by selecting the track stack and playing single notes, I get bass, guitar chords and a nice bouncy piano lead. I did some tweaking and used automation to mute the piano in places and unmute it in others to have some variety.

Having that done, I went to my "usual suspects" in other MIDI tracks and created a track for Samplemodeling's SWAM Tenor Sax and SampleModeling's Kontakt based Trumpet. These I performed with the Akai EWI Wind controller and recorded the resulting MIDI.

For variety I also included the Korg Legacy M1 synth which I also played with the EWI using the Patchmanmusic M1 patches. This I included in another track stack along with the sax.

In some parts, I selected the sax only and played solo and in others (near the end) I selected the track stack to have the M1 and Sax play in unison. I LOVE the track stack feature for unison parts with trumpet/sax or other combos of instruments.

I don't think I'll ever go back to Logic 9 even with the 32 bit plugins I own. Its far too much fun working with Logic X.

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