Logic Pro Basics

Logic Pro is a powerful DAW (digital audio workstation) that you can use to do pretty much anything related to music composition and production. You can just think of it as Garage Band’s big brother - it’s kind of like the relation of iMovie to Final Cut Pro. Powerful software can be very confusing the first time you open it, so I’m going to just go over a few things to get you started and familiarized with the user interface and some of the most basic features. Although Logic Pro X is out, this guide will be for Logic Pro 9 as you can only use X with Mountain Lion and higher.

 

Getting Started

After loading up logic, you’ll most likely come to a quick start screen. If not, this can be easily accessed by navigating to File → New...

This screen contains some pre-made sessions that could be useful, but for our purposes we will just open an empty project (Explode → Empty Project). After doing so, you will have a blank session. Logic will automatically create a piano virtual instrument track.

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I’ll just point out some important things in this main window. On our right is our Media Browser. If it does not appear, you can access it by clicking the “Media” button in the top right. This section is used to choose instrument sounds and access loops.  On the left, we have our mixer preview. A larger view of this can be opened by pressing Command ⌘ + 2. I usually work in the full window mixer, but the preview can be nice for making quick adjustments to volume and effects.

Along the bottom, you have your global transport controls on the left and some of your recording options on the right including Low Latency Mode, loop record, auto punch, metronome, etc. I will go in more depth about some of these options later in the post.

The majority of what’s going on will happen in the center. You have your list of tracks and you can also access some important editing screen with the tabs along the bottom (right above the global transport controls). New tracks can be made using the two small buttons above the tracks.  The “+” button will open the new track dialogue box and the one with a rectangle shape will duplicate the track selected.

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Moving Forward

First off, we’re going to want to enable the metronome click. This button is found near the bottom of the screen.

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Enabling the metronome click is super important because we want everything in our song to be in time so we can add loops in without having an timing issues. Now when you press the play button you’ll hear a click sound in time with the tempo set. Logic defaults to 120 BPM.  We’ll leave it set to that for our purposes.

 

One of the cool things about Logic is that you can record in MIDI information without even having a USB keyboard. While this is not ideal, it is still pretty handy. The musical typing function can be accessed simply by pressing Caps Lock.

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Let’s go ahead and select the track and press record. Listen for the metronome click and try to play in time. Once you are finished, press stop.

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You should end up with something like this. Congratulations! You’ve recorded your first track into Logic. Let’s go ahead and press the “duplicate track” button so we can record in a second part. This is the button next to the “+” button in the picture above.

It’d be cool if we could have another instrument other than piano. Great! Logic has a gigantic array of virtual instruments to choose from. Let’s select the new track we’ve just made and look at the media browser on the right. As long as you are under the Library tab, we can change the piano sound to almost anything! I’m just going a string patch, but feel free to choose anything that looks interesting to you.

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Go ahead and repeat the preview step and record some notes in under your newly made track. Once you’re finished we’ll have something similar to this:

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Before we finish up, I’m going to show you how to add in one of Logic’s pre-made drum loops to tie everything together.

Navigate back to the Media window that we chose our new instrument in. This time, we’re going to tab over to loops. Just do a search for “drums” and choose one that looks interesting to you. Click and drag it over to the bottom of your track list. A new track will be made with the drum loop information you chose. Clicking and dragging the top right corner of the clip will loop it out for as long as you drag it.

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Let’s play that all back, now. Wow! Hear how logic will automatically play your loop in time with your session? That’s why turning on and playing to that metronome click was so important. All right.. we’ve created our first masterwork. Let’s save our work to .mp3 so we can share it with all of our friends!

 

Wrapping Up

To save your song to a .mp3, navigate to File Bounce...

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Copying these settings and clicking “Bounce” will export your song out to the location you selected. Don’t forget to give your song a title! Mine is “Sample Song.”    

 

In Conclusion

Obviously, we’ve really only barely scratched the surface in this program, but I hope you now could at least sit down and do something in the program, and have enough basic knowledge to sit down, explore, and teach yourself more.