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Computer music blog » How to be efficient on Logic Pro X
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Writing a song with Logic Pro X is an unreachable dream? Let me tell you some of my secrets !!! Or more simply how to be efficient on Logic Pro X.

Where to start?

To answer this question, I will explore different aspects of Logic Pro X with concrete examples.

  • The settings or how to properly set Logic Pro X to get to the essentials.
  • The tools your companions used to save time.
  • Keyboard shortcuts or how to know the software better.
  • The processes of composition assistance.
  • Models so you don’t waste any more time.
  • The Library, it will be very useful for you.

How do you set up Logic Pro X to get to the essentials?

Very simply with the settings of Logic Pro X! I exclude from this chapter the settings of the audio engine.

Three settings are important to me:

  • Advanced tools
  • Module Manager
  • Control surfaces

Once the adjustments are made, we don’t have to worry about it anymore.

Let’s get started with the advanced tools

How to be efficient on Logic Pro X? With the simplest of settings! You have to go to the Logic Pro X main menu ➞ Preferences ➞ Advanced tools…

Save time with the Advanced Tools Menu...
Menu Advanced Tools

When the window opens, check all the boxes to exit basic mode and benefit from all the features.

Save time with the Advanced Tools Menu...
Window Advanced Tools

Use the module manager!

Gaining efficiency in the use of Logic requires the management of plug-ins, because in my opinion we spend a lot of time loading audio effects as well as virtual synths.

On this point, there is no rule to be strictly said, more common sense and your own experience of the order and arrangement of your plug-ins.

To make it simple you have to go to the Logic Pro X main menu ➞ Preferences ➞ Module Manager.

Save time with Menu plug-ins Manager
Menu plug-ins Manager

In the window below, you will be able to manage your plug-ins:

  • Exclude those that are not compatible (yes it is possible)
  • Create folders to store your plug-ins by type:
    • In the picture below, 01 pre amp contains the UAD pre amps I use a lot.
  • Give custom names or abreviations to your plug-ins to gain visibility in the mixer.
Save time with Window plug-ins Manager
Window Plug-ins Manager

How does it work?

Simply by dragging the plug-ins into the folder as shown in the image below.

Save time by dragging the plug-ins
dragging the plug-ins

You want to create your own folder for easy operation of virtual synths:

As in the image below press the + button, name your folder. The manager sorts the folders in numerical and alphabetical order. I recommend you to use the numerical classification especially if you need this folder frequently.

Save time by add a folder
Add a Folder

Why give a custom name or a short name to a plug-in?

Giving a custom name allows you to find the plug-ins in an important list. Personally I’m not a fan of it…

Concerning the short name, this is of interest in the mixer and in the Channel inspector.

As in the example below, the Omnisphere virtual synth from Spectrasonics (one of my favorite synths) has its name cut off in the insertion slot. By assigning it a short name in the module manager, e.g. SP_Omni: SP for Spectrasonics and Omni for Omnisphere. I gain readability in the mixer and in the slice inspector.

Short Name plug-ins manager
Short Name plug-ins manager

Tip about Universal Audio plug-ins!

To limit the plug-ins you would not have purchased from UAD within your Apollo sound card and in Logic Pro X there is an additional opportunity to use only the plug-ins you have purchased.

In the UAD console settings, go to the plug-ins tab and press HIDE in front of each plug-in that is in Demo or that displays Demo expired, automatically it will no longer appear in the UAD console and in the Logic Pro X module manager!

What about my control surface?

You are the proud owner of a control surface or a master keyboard that acts as a control surface.

More simply, you can use your iPad to drive Logic Pro.

As for me, I use three control surfaces in Logic:

  • An Avid Artist Mix v2
  • The Komplete Kontrol Keyboard from Native Instruments
  • My iPhone with Logic Remote

I’m not going to go into details, just let you know where it’s set up because each device has its own configuration mode.Menu

Menu Control Surfaces setup
Menu Control Surfaces setup

Let’s continue with the tools

Let’s distinguish two categories of tools as shown in the image below:

  • The ones in the toolbar framed in yellow.
  • Tools in the arrangement window and the scrolling score editor framed in orange.
Toolbar and window tools
Toolbar and window tools

The freely configurable toolbar can be saved for all other projects. There are no better tools than others. Your workflow may require different tools than the ones I display here.

  1. Display the bar by using the top left button or the keyboard shortcut: ⌃⌥⌘T.
  2. Customize your tools by right clicking on the bar or left clicking on ⌃.
  3. A window will open, tick the tools you need.
  4. Finish by clicking on save as default.
Toolbar Setting Sequence
Toolbar Setting Sequence

The window tools are by default set to display 2 tools:

  • Left-click to display the pointer for example
  • ⌃ left click to display a second tool

To display a third tool go to the Logic Pro X main menu ➞ Preferences ➞ General

Menu General
Menu General

The menu opens and in the General window select the Edit tab.

Take a good look at the image below and check the following 3 points:

  1. Right mouse button is assignable to a tool displays three tools in the Logic windows
  2. To make settings in this menu, you may as well activate the click zone of the fade tool.
  3. Make sure Piano Roll is selected each time you click on a midi region the Piano Roll editor will open automatically.
Setting sequence 2

The choice of tools matches your workflow. Depending on whether you are composing or saving the tool selection in the Arrangement window will not be the same all to make your work easier.

Little tricks!

For Trackpad users it is possible to activate the Force Touch function, another time-saving tip.

  • Clicking strongly under a track header opens the track creation menu.
  • Allows you to create markers at the position of the playhead by clicking strongly.
  • Still clicking strongly on the name of a region allows you to rename it.
  • And one of the most useful, in the scrolling score editor, if you strongly press on a note it is erased.

The shortcut T used in the arrangement window displays the list of tools that can be used with the mouse. I often use the shortcut G (Glue tool) to paste two regions together in the arrangement window. Same thing in the scrolling score window where I often use the shortcut B (Brush tool) to write rhythmic patterns quickly. I invite you to watch a video detailing the tool

Keyboard shortcuts

There are a multitude of keyboard shortcuts in logic knowing that you can define your own shortcuts.

The Basics (without talking about playback, stop and recording again):

  • X displays the mixer
  • P displays the scrolling partition editor
  • N displays the partition editor
  • D displays the event editor
  • Y displays the library
  • O displays the Loops browser (Apple Loops)
  • G displays the global track
  • H displays the hidden track mode

My favorites in the arrangement window:

⇧ + space bar starts playback at the selected region
⌘T cuts the area at the head
⌃< Crop the region(s) outside the selection or locators
u starts the cycle on the selected region
= reverses the cycle to make a jump, very useful to check the efficiency of a sequence between two parts.

I can’t list everything in this article know that all this is configurable via the window below by pressing the shortcut ⌥K

Window keyboard shortcuts
Window keyboard shortcuts

Composition help processes.

Structure your songs

Make a structure of the song. Use the locators to structure your composition. I’m not teaching you anything by telling you that music is made up of verses and choruses. Where it becomes interesting is to use the markers to get some cues in the composition. Combine with some keyboard shortcuts that will save you a lot of time.

Locators as an aid to structure
Locators as an aid to structure

In addition to giving you reference points, having a structure also allows you to work on the balance of the song.

If you have an extended keyboard with a numeric keypad, the numbers from 1 to 9 will allow you to position the playback head at the beginning of the corresponding marker.

I often hear in productions, an intro that lasts 1 minute while the whole title is 3 minutes long.

Using 1 third of the total time to introduce the track is too long unless you’re doing Epic and the title is linked to a video montage. Balance each part against the overall duration of the composition.

Key of your composition

In Logic Pro X you can set a tonality for the song you want to compose, the advantages are as follows:

  • Visually know in which scale is the project
Scale of the project
Scale of the project
  • Automatic tuning of Apple Loops during Preview. See if the loop matches with the composition!
apple loops tuning
apple loops tuning
  • Take advantage of the scale quantization mode in the scrolling partition editor. A significant advantage to always be right in your composition. Set it to a Midi track and each new midi track created will be automatically set up with the same key.
Scale Quantize
Scale Quantize

Can the Models help me?

Of course and I’m a fan myself! I’ll give you several examples:

  • Recording of a pop rock band.

The simplest way to do this is to create a model where each track has a drum, bass, keyboard, guitar, vocals section and where each track is pre-set with pre-amp mics, headphone circuits etc….

  • Title EDM, Deep House or Trap…

Why not create your own model with a synth structure, pre-loaded effects to save time? It’s up to you to make variations of structure, sounds and editing between the different titles…

  • Bloc note et sound design !

It’s one of the ways I like working with models the most. It’s one of the ways I like to work with the models the most. For sound design it’s the same, sculpting a sound can take time, hence the idea of having a model with the right tools. Even more interesting if you work with a modular, you will be able to record your modifications in real time and build up sound material directly accessible via Logic Pro X.

I recommend that you explore the models already offered by Logic Pro X and design your own models.

To create your template you need a project with audio and midi plug-ins, virtual synths pre-loaded to save your template go to the main menu ➞ File ➞ Save as model.

About the library…

By default, the library offers a multitude of ready-to-use patches for both audio and virtual synth operation.

You can create your own patch collection. Like the ones I sell in the EXS24 banks.

A patch is an effect chain on the audio or virtual instrument slice. Beyond this aspect, settings and effects used on auxiliaries via busses will also be saved… Interesting isn’t it ?

Library Patches
Library Patches

Here is an example in console slice settings format for the collection of synths I use in Nks format.

User Channel Strip Settings
User Channel Strip Settings

One last trick for the road!

In Logic Pro x define labels for the inputs and outputs of its sound card it’s a precious time saver…

This happens in the Mixer ➞ Options ➞ I/O Labels

As in the Plug-In Manager you can define custom names or short names for your inputs and outputs, whether mono or stereo…

How do I define that everything I show you in this article will save you time?

The speed to record an idea, the saving of time in the midi or audio edition… because yes, I missed a lot of things that would make a second article.

How to be effective on Logic Pro X, with experience and time what used to take a week to compose a title will take you more than three days thanks to reading this article may be less. Of course I’m not talking about the inspiration that would justify an article on this topic …

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