The spotlight turns to Logic's MIDI features, as we solve a data-merging problem and offer step-by-step advice on automation recording with hardware control.
The MIDI side of Logic Pro is extremely powerful, but in situations where you wish to record two or more MIDI parts at the same time — for example, a keyboard and a MIDI drum kit — you need to make a few settings adjustments to get it to work properly. By default, Logic's Instrument and MIDI tracks are set to 'All', which means that they accept MIDI inputs on any channel to drive the current track, which is a useful time saver that avoids you having to match the controller and destination channel numbers every time you start a new track.
If you use the default settings when feeding in two or more MIDI controllers, however, you'll find that all the incoming data gets merged and sent to the selected MIDI track regardless of how the sending devices are set up. Here's how to get around that:
- Under the File menu, select Project Settings.
- Select the Recording option from the list of settings that pops up.
- In the MIDI section of the Recording screen, you'll see a tick box labelled 'Auto demix by channel if multitrack recording'. Check this box. The first step in de-merging incoming MIDI data is to select 'Auto demix by channel if multitrack recording' from the Recording section of Project Settings.
With that done, you can set a specific MIDI channel for each sending device and for the corresponding instrument track that you wish to receive that data. For example, you might set your keyboard controller to send on MIDI channel 1 and your MIDI drum kit to send on MIDI channel 2 with their corresponding instrument channels also set to MIDI channels one and two. The same is true if you are using a keyboard set up for 'splits', where different sections of the keyboard send on different MIDI channels. Each section can feed its own Logic Instrument track.
To change the Instrument track MIDI channel, simply look in the Instrument section of the Inspector window to the left of the Arrange page and reset the MIDI Channel from All to the desired channel number. To give each sending device its own channel simply change the MIDI channel number from All to the desired number.
Finally, record-arm all the instrument tracks and ensure that one of them remains selected before engaging record. You should now be able to record your multiple MIDI parts with no cross-contamination of MIDI data.
This is all pretty straightforward once you've worked through it, but there's a certain visually confusing factor that it might help to be aware of. As the parts are recording, all the MIDI data appears only on the selected Instrument track, which might make you think that something is not working. However, as soon as you stop recording, it automatically moves to the correct tracks as the automatic de-merging kicks in.
As we're in a MIDI frame of mind, let's look at how you can set up hardware MIDI control of software parameters and record plug-in automation. In Logic 9, it's very straightforward:
- Go to the Preferences menu in the top-left corner of the Toolbar and, from the drop-down menu, choose Controller Assignments (alternatively, press Command-K). The Controller Assignment window will then pop up in either Easy View or Expert View; it's much easier to see what you're doing in Expert View, so click that option.
- Go to the bottom right-hand corner of the window and click the Learn Mode button. Logic is now waiting for you to choose the first parameter you want to control. Logic can learn insert plug-in parameters, virtual instrument parameters and the general parameters of the track mixer.
- Simply change the parameter you want to control and then move a knob or fader on your keyboard or controller to assign that to the parameter. You can keep going, repeating the cycle of moving a parameter, then a hardware control, and Logic will carry on learning them.
- When you've covered the parameters you want to control, click the Learn Mode button off and close the Controller Assignments window. The Controller Assignments window in Logic. Once you've engaged the Learn Mode button, change a parameter in a virtual instrument plug-in; it will then appear in the Parameter column. Now, if you move a hardware control on your keyboard, the message in the Control column should read 'Learned'.
Now that you've set up your control surface to control multiple instrument and plug-in parameters, you'll probably want to record your movements as automation.
- Select the track you want to automate.
- Go to the Inspector and, from the automation menu just above the channel fader, choose Touch. With this setting, Logic will replace any existing automation data when you move your controllers, but only while they are being moved. Once you stop moving a controller, the automation for that parameter returns to the original value.
- Press play in the transport and move the controllers on your control surface to record some automation.
- Once you're happy with the results, set the Track Automation Mode to Read, so that you can't accidentally record any more automation.
Now that you've recorded your automation, you can manage it in several ways:
- To view the automation you've just recorded, go to the View menu and choose Automation, or press 'A' on your keyboard. You will now see all the automation you recorded as faint lines across your MIDI Region. Once you've recorded your automation data, you can view and edit data for individual parameters via the menu in the Track Header. Note that Logic helpfully provides quick links at the bottom of the menu to the parameters you've automated.
- To bring a particular parameter into view, click on the Track Header. At the bottom of the drop-down menu, you'll see that Logic has displayed a series of quick links to the parameters that you have automated; choose the one you want to edit, and off you go.
- To view multiple parameters at once, click the disclosure arrow at the bottom left of the Track Header.
For more on editing and drawing automation, see the Logic article in Sound On Sound July 2011. Geoff Smith