3 tips for composing on Logic Pro X

Francis

Francis

Composer ⎜ Sound Engineer ⎜ Sound Designer

Today, following a set of courses that I have completed online, I thought it was important to give you 3 tips to get your composition off to a good start on Logic Pro X.

In Logic Pro X there are 3 tools that will help you in your music composition work.

Compose horizontally or vertically?

The advent in Logic Pro X since version 10.5 of audio loops to play live raises the following question:

Is it necessary to dial in horizontal or vertical mode?

Musically now in our DAW, acronym for Digital Audio Workstation, there are two ways to compose:

Horizontally, like the playback head of a tape recorder.
Vertically, according to the different parts of our piece of music.
I see a lot of people who compose in vertical mode a drum section and then the bass and so on.

I’m not saying that this is a good or bad method, but what I see is that very quickly you run out of ideas and you inevitably end up with a musical construction by adding and deleting. We see it very clearly in beatmakers, or DJ producers.

Conversely to this phenomenon, in rock or pop music you will quickly work with a series of drum patterns to define a solid musical base on which to lay the foundations of your rock track with chords and guitar riffs.

I invite you to reread this article on drums. Then it gets complicated… Having ideas that go well with each other.

My tip number 1

It is important to work a methodology both horizontally and vertically.

To help you in Logic, there are markers.

I work in the following way: I use the markers to make a visual structure of the musical composition.

So I can, thanks to the markers, define the number of measures for the intro, the verse, the chorus and so on according to the musical style.

For example if I compose an EDM club track, I would be more in a structure with intro, theme, drop, uplifter and so on…

It all depends on style, you, your visual interpretation and your ideas.

It is possible with the structure to create an end marker to avoid some mistakes during a Bounce.

It is also possible to use keyboard shortcuts with the markers to work in a loop on the desired section.

Nothing prevents you from using an existing title as a basis for structuring your music composition. This will give you a reference point and lay the foundations for your future composition. I do not invite you to copy or reproduce an existing title but to understand how to set up a musical skeleton. Because according to the musical styles in which one composes, the structures are different.

Another advantage of working with markers: if you are lacking inspiration on a verse, you can work on the intro for example and in this case we work vertically. This trick will save you time! An example with the chorus, you can copy the elements that make it up on the other choruses and then do some additional or slightly different interpretation by modifying some audio loops for example.

My tip number 2

Use in your Logic Pro X project a musical scale to be tuned in your composition.

There are several methods for this:

  • Define in the transport bar the key or if you prefer the musical scale of your composition.
    • This has many advantages: Apple loops are automatically played in this scale and both audio and midi loops are automatically played in this scale.
    • Logic’s tools will be tuned to this musical scale.
    • Use the scale quantization tool as in the image below to make sure that the notes you compose are in the right key.
  • For those who use a Komplete Kontrol keyboard it is possible to define the musical scale directly in the keyboard. For the moment there is no link with Logic Pro X to do this automatically.
  • For professionals working with Melodyne ARA from Celemony
  • Finally, for autotune enthusiasts, knowing what musical scale the composition is in can help you make better vocal effects.
  • And working under a harmonic constraint allows you to develop very good ideas without being wrong.
3 tips for composing
Quantification of the scale on the left in the window
  • For those who use a Komplete Kontrol keyboard it is possible to define the musical scale directly in the keyboard. For the moment there is no link with Logic Pro X to do this automatically.
  • For professionals working with Melodyne ARA from Celemony
  • Finally, for autotune enthusiasts, knowing what musical scale the composition is in can help you make better vocal effects.

And working under a harmonic constraint allows you to develop very good ideas without being wrong.

My Tip Number 3

The best being for the end, work your tracks with an audio level at -6dB because you have to think about the mixing stage and very often the mistake of beginners is to want to do the mixing at the same time as the composition.

As I say when I do the mixing training, it’s like a recipe: you choose the right ingredients and then you mix them well, without forgetting that once these products are well mixed (equivalent to the mixing process), you will move on to the cooking stage (equivalent to the mastering process)!

Finally for the last word concerning this article “3 tips to compose efficiently on Logic Pro X”.

I see more and more composers dubbing the kick track or the bass and even worse with some synthesizers.

Don’t duplicate or triple your midi or audio tracks!

  • Duplicating a track does not correspond to the layering technique (Technique that consists in stacking different sounds so that only one sound is produced).
  • Duplicating the drums will not bring a better sound.
  • Tripling the lead voice is not a substitute for re-recording the voice on another track.

When I ask the reason for duplicating or tripling the track, I am told that it is to improve the sound and make it louder. Maybe they forgot the mixing step?