Learning Your Way Around the Program
In the previous article we spoke about treating Logic Pro X like a musical instrument. And, when learning a new instrument, it’s important to take some time and practice. But, just like much of the information on the internet, many tips and tricks are demonstrated from the perspective that you already know what they’re talking about. In this article, we’ll be beginning from scratch.
Many times I’ve sat with artists and other musicians while working on a project. They always begin by asking, “Can you do this? Or, can you do that?” To which the answer is almost always, “yes”. Then, I follow up with, “We can also do this, or that.” And, they look astonished and say, “You’re a genius.”
As much as I appreciate the sentiment, I’m certainly no genius. I’m just someone who has logged in more time driving in Logic.
The Control Bar
Let’s begin by launching Logic (I’m using version 10.2.2). Under the “Help” menu, select “Logic Pro Demo Project”. You should then see a dialog box that says “Loading Helena Beat” along with a progress bar that shows you that the project is loading. This way, we’ll have a complete project that we can work with as we learn our way around.
The top of the main window is called the control bar and this is where many frequently-used options are made available to us.
Under “View” in the menu bar, you can “Show or Hide the Control Bar”. Some people prefer to “Hide” the control bar so that they can have more screen real estate. You’ll quickly discover and define your preferences as you get used to the layout.
To the upper left hide side of the control bar is a set of buttons.
This section can open up certain areas that you’ll need for working in Logic. Here’s a quick rundown.
The Library offers you access to Patches. A patch contains the instrument, effects and routing presets for a track. When you select a patch, the settings are automatically applied to the track. The Library groups patches into categories and subcategories.
Choose “Lead Vocal B” from the Demo Song (this should be Track 2).
Highlight the region by clicking on it, and press the “U” key (this will setup the loop or cycle function).
Solo the track by clicking the “S” in the track.
Next, audition patches and notice the differences that each patch creates. Now, it’s just a matter of personal preference. Voila! Your choices make you a producer.
There is certainly a lot more available in the Library area; for example, plugin presets and other settings. But, for now, we’re just getting used to our work area.
This button provides access to the Dual Channel Strip (on the bottom) which can come in really handy. Here, you can view and edit the various settings for the selected region, the track, plugins, etc. in the inspector.
Play around with the settings and observe the subtle changes; for example, adjust the volume and panning. Open a plugin and change some of the parameters.
This gives you access to some quick tips. It’s pretty self explanatory and can help you in a pinch. Give it a try.
This button gives you access to the Smart Controls pane (on the lower part of the main window). Here you can quickly tweak the sound of the selected track by adjusting the onscreen controls of the Compressor and/or EQ. Screen controls can control both channel strip and plug-in parameters, including software instruments and effects. Adjust the knobs and play around with the other screen controls, and listen for the changes in sound.
When people think of a recording studio, this is the first thing that they imagine. The giant console and trying to figure out what each and every button means. Here’s the secret, once you know how to adjust one channel strip then you can adjust them all—they’re all basically the same. And, the beauty of digital recording is that they only show you what you’re using.
The Mixer button opens up the Mixer pane on the bottom of the main window. Here you can adjust the overall levels and settings of each track. You can adjust the volume level and pan position of each channel strip, insert instrument and effect plug-ins and edit their parameters, mute and solo tracks, and send the output to auxiliary or output channel strips.
Author’s note: Mixing is a huge topic and too big for any blog post or article to cover. We’ll look at ways to get started with mixing in future articles.
As a teenager, I learned how to record, mix and edit using tape (spools of magnetic tape that were actually quite heavy). Editing was done with razor blades, exacto knives, scissors and scotch tape. We literally cut the tape, made the edit, and taped it back together. So, to us remember-the-good-ole-days types, the scissor icon is immediately understandable.
Editing, just like mixing, is a tricky concept that requires practice. For now, I’d just like to make you aware of your working environment. We’ll tackle editing on the future. The wonderful thing about today’s technology is that you can ? + Z your way out of anything.
This lesson is simple. Now that you understand certain features and functions of the control bar, open up the demo project and fool around with each area. The important thing to remember is to listen to each adjustment and tweak that you make. Little by little you’ll begin to learn your way around the instrument (in this case, Logic).
Thank for hanging with me and we’ll meet here next time.