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Better Logic Scores: Part 2: Further Improvements

Logic Notes & Techniques

We covered the basics of score production last month; now it's time to learn more about presentation, with the aim of creating scores that really look the part.

Better Logic Scores: Part 2: Further ImprovementsIn the first instalment of this two-part feature (part one was printed last month in SOS), we looked at the beginnings of the part-printing process for a brass section. The techniques we covered were sufficient to let you provide workable Logic parts for your musicians, but who wants workable if they can have masterful? With that in mind, we'll be moving on to further tips and tricks that should make your parts look even more sophisticated.

Key & Time Signatures

Every key signature has a particular set of sharps or flats, except for C-major and its minor equivalent, A-minor, which have no sharps or flats in their key signatures. Key signatures are usually printed at the start of a piece of music and then again wherever the piece changes key. This is to save musicians having to continuously read notes with sharps and flats attached to them, and to save the copywriter having to keep remembering to write them in. Unfortunately, there is no automatic way of making Logic decide the key of a piece. A keyboard player or a guitarist will probably have a good idea of the key that the song is in, but if you don't know it already, or know about key signatures from a music theory point of view, you'll have to experiment until you see the tidiest result on screen.

Better Logic Scores: Part 2: Further ImprovementsMusicians will appreciate your score having a key signature. As shown at the top, you can see that without one, players have to read and compute sharps and flats 'stuck to notes' throughout a piece. With a key signature included (below), your player will already know which notes to play sharp or flat. This also helps to tidy your parts somewhat.Musicians will appreciate your score having a key signature. As shown at the top, you can see that without one, players have to read and compute sharps and flats 'stuck to notes' throughout a piece. With a key signature included (below), your player will already know which notes to play sharp or flat. This also helps to tidy your parts somewhat.In the Score window's left column, under 'Part box', you will see a tile with four little flat (b) signs. Click this and the uppermost part of the column below will list all the key signatures, major and minor.

Let's say that your song starts in A-major. Click and drag the 'A' in the column of key signatures and drop it at the very first bar of the part (if it enters the part in the wrong place, use 'undo' to remove it and try again). You will see three sharp (#) symbols, the key signature of A-major, appear at the start of the part. This is a global addition, so when you look at the song's other parts (say, the brass parts from last month) they too will have the key signature in place. You should also place a key signature wherever you have a change of key during the piece — maybe it goes up a tone to 'B' for the ' X-Factor finale' last chorus, for example! At the point where the new key starts, use the same method to insert the new key signature. Again, it will appear in all parts.

A time signature is the pair of numbers (for example, 4/4, 3/8, 6/8) that you see at the beginning and throughout pieces of printed music. Time signatures will be automatically placed in your parts by Logic, according to where they are in your Arrange window, so you don't need to worry about them.

Transposition

So far you have been working in what's known as 'concert pitch'. In simple terms, this means that when you play a 'C' on a piano a 'C' pitch is heard. Not all instruments are like this, including the brass section we've been talking about (see 'Instrument Transposition & Ranges' box). This transposition business does complicate matters, but Logic helps you through it by using automated transpose options. In the Score window, call up the first trumpet part that we looked at in part one of 'Better Logic Scores', and select the stave, so that the lines turn blue. In the top left box just above 'Quantise', you will see 'Style'. Click here and a list of score styles is shown. Look down the list and you will see, near the bottom, 'Trumpet in Bb'. Select this. You will find that the whole part, including the key signature, is automatically transposed to the correct pitch for your trumpeter. Do this for the second trumpet part too.

Make sure that your notes are applicable for the instrument in mind. With an alto sax there is a six-note change when transposing, because it sounds a minor sixth lower than is written (as shown above, with the written pitch on the left and the 'sounding' pitch to the right). Note that if your notes are too high they may be out of your player's range.Make sure that your notes are applicable for the instrument in mind. With an alto sax there is a six-note change when transposing, because it sounds a minor sixth lower than is written (as shown above, with the written pitch on the left and the 'sounding' pitch to the right). Note that if your notes are too high they may be out of your player's range.Now highlight the alto sax part and follow the same process, but this time select alto sax from the menu. You'll see the notes jump up a sixth, so that when the sax plays (sounding a sixth lower) the notes will all come out at the correct pitch.

Be careful, though: with such a radical transposition you could easily end up with notes that are too high for the alto. The highest note that a good sax player is likely to be able to reach is a printed F-sharp, three lines and a space above the treble stave (sounding a concert 'A', one line above the stave). If any of your notes are higher than this, they just won't happen, and it may be worth considering re-voicing the brass parts, perhaps swapping a passage from the trombone or the second trumpet with the alto sax.

For the trombone part, select 'bass' as the score style. The clef will change to a bass clef, and although the notes may look as though they've jumped upwards, they will actually sound lower — like the left hand in a piano part. However, if the part now looks as though it's going to be too high or low for the trombonist, try switching octave or instrument to find the best compromise. If you don't, you'll soon be told about it by your instrumentalist after they've turned red!

Final Formatting

You're now pretty much ready for printing. Assuming that you're going to talk through the parts with your players, rather than spending time putting in absoutely all the markings, there are only a few other things to add before you're ready to print.

The Part box: (1) Click this tile of four flat symbols and all the key-signature options become available below for you to choose from. (2) In this case, I chose 'E'. (3) Multi-rests are a useful tool for space saving and neatening your part, as they will truncate any passage of empty bars into just one bar. (4) Double bars are a good way to separate out various sections in your piece, such as verses and choruses.The Part box: (1) Click this tile of four flat symbols and all the key-signature options become available below for you to choose from. (2) In this case, I chose 'E'. (3) Multi-rests are a useful tool for space saving and neatening your part, as they will truncate any passage of empty bars into just one bar. (4) Double bars are a good way to separate out various sections in your piece, such as verses and choruses.It's easier for the players to read your parts if you put double bars at the beginning of significant sections, such as verses and choruses. To do this, first open one of your parts in the Score window. It can be any of the parts, as (again) this is a global command. Locate the first bar line that you want to 'upgrade' to a double bar — for instance, the beginning of the first verse. You can drag and drop the double bar symbol from the Part box if you only have a couple of double bars to put in, or, alternatively, change to the pencil tool. Select the double bar icon from the left menu (fourth from the left, under the Bar Lines tile, in the Part box) and click once on the bar line where you want to insert the double bar. I have found that this process can be a bit hit and miss, resulting in Logic bizarrely placing the double bar somewhere random in the bars either side of your target. A bit of experimentation will help you get the feel of where to click to achieve the result you want. Use 'undo' to remove any rogue double bars and try again.

Once you've placed all your double bars you're ready for multi-rests, which are a copywriter's way of saving space and paper. Your guys may only play in the intro and then the third chorus onwards, and in between is a ream's worth of empty bars. Multi-rests will help sort this out. Go to the Part box again, and this time select the multi-rest icon hidden under the Rests tile. With your pencil tool, click on the first bar of a section of empty bars and you will see that Logic counts the number of bars that are empty and hides them. In the one remaining bar Logic places a multi-rest with the correct number of empty bars noted above it. Move on to the next section of empty bars and repeat. This gives the musicians all they need to know about how long it is before they play again. (Time for a curry, a beer, or just a breath!) The beauty of having already placed the double bars means that the 'layout' of the whole song is still obvious, as the multi-rests stop at each of the section breaks, such as verses and choruses — nice!

This stave mock-up shows many of the formatting options discussed in this article, including clef, key signature, double bar lines and multi-rests.This stave mock-up shows many of the formatting options discussed in this article, including clef, key signature, double bar lines and multi-rests.You will probably see that, by default, Logic has placed a bar number at the start of every bar, just above the bar-line. Bar numbers are very important to you and your musicians — they match the bar numbers in the Arrange window and give you a good basis for communication. However, I find having a bar number at every bar a little overwhelming, especially in a 'busy' part where space is at a premium. Fortunately, the bar numbers in Logic can be spaced by any number of bars.

In the Layout / Global Format menu you can specify various aspects of formatting, one being the frequency of bar numbers. I set them to every 10 or, more often, to just the beginning of each stave. If you enter '0', bar numbers will only appear at the beginning of each line break.

I can't tell you how many times I've printed parts and then, in the heat of the moment, forgotten which instrument the part represents! So I want to stress that you should always name your parts. The default settings will probably mean that to the left of the first bar of each part is an instrument name. This is usually the name of the software instrument, or the MIDI instrument channel, you used for your MIDI region. So check that you either know for sure, when it says 'Inst1', which sound you had on that track, or rename the software instrument channel in the Environment/Mixer. As you change that, the score will change too. Alternatively, you can go to the Score window / Layout / Global Format menu and un-tick the Instrument Names box, thus removing the automated labelling, and type your own names on each part, using the text tool.

Mac CPU Spike Issues

Even the most casual browser of the various Logic-related Internet fora will have realised that all is not well in Apple's orchard just now. Frustrated users have flooded the boards with tales of woe detailing their computer's inability to play back even the most basic of projects without instant CPU spikes and the inevitable overload message. It's hard to diagnose where the problem lies; some systems are working perfectly, while other seemingly identical setups are susceptible. The problems are apparently not just confined to Intel-based Macs, but so far my own G5 is still performing sterling work with Logic 8 and an array of audio and software instrument tracks. Until recently, I'd been immune to these CPU-related problems on my MacBook Pro, but then my previously stable machine began to fall over when playing back just a single example of ES1 or an imported stereo file. It seems that the latest Airport update could be the culprit, as turning off the wireless network brings my laptop back into line. This doesn't help those who have been having longer-term problems, but it does demonstrate that a seemingly innocent software change can wreak havoc on a previously stable system. I've stopped upgrading my Tiger­based G5 and I'm keeping it frozen in its current status until I need to change to a more powerful machine — I suspect that even then I'll run the G5 in tandem for an overlap period.

I've been keeping my laptop loaded with just Logic 8 and the occasional 'extra' plug-in in an attempt to reduce the options and distractions, and hopefully get jobs done more quickly. The latest addition to my armoury (more a gun cabinet, really) is Sonnox's Inflator plug-in (www.sonnoxplugins.com). When I first used a hardware Fairchild limiter, I had one of those 'so that's how they get that sound!' epiphanies, and exactly the same thing happened when I tried the Inflator. Though it's a perfectly respectable high-quality mastering limiter and maximiser, there's also some kind of psychoacoustic enhancement going on that adds a certain 'something' — especially to vocals. While I think that Logic's compressor is now up there with the best third-party options, Logic's limiter, enhancer and maximiser all still leave something to be desired. Sonnox's offering seems to cover quite a few of those bases and is really helping me to add that 'finished' sheen to projects where I've mainly used Logic's own plug-ins. Stephen Bennett

A Stave Too Far

When you look through your part, you may find that the highest or the lowest notes on a stave are too close to the stave above or below. Fortunately, you can adjust the distance between the staves. Using the standard pointer tool, click and hold at the beginning of a stave. You will see the pointer change to a hand tool and you can drag the stave up or down — remembering that this affects all of the part. The distances will be the same between all the staves for the whole of the part, so check, for instance, that you haven't moved them too close together for a passage that's off-screen later in the piece. Adjusting stave spacing like this is also a great way to save page space and sneak a single stave back onto the end of the last page.

A similar space-saving trick can be accessed via the Layout menu. Staying in the Score window, find 'staff styles' (staff being the US term for stave) under that menu. A new window appears that shows you the settings for your current stave style. Amongst other things, you will see a size column. This simply refers to the font size that Logic is using for the part. If you need to squeeze more onto the page, you can try a lower number. Conversely, if the notes are all a bit small when you print out the part, you can try increasing this number. Bear in mind that the font size change will affect the whole part layout and any of the other parts that use the same style — for instance, both of your trumpets in B-flat.

Pre-Print Checking

Before you attempt your final formatting, prior to printing, check that you have the correct paper size set in Logic's page Setup menu, as this is where the Score window gets its page size. Open the Score window — I prefer this to be a completely separate window rather than the nested view in the Arrange window — and click the Page View button. This changes the display to show how the part is going to be printed by the printer, according to the size of page you have set up in printer preferences. Click View / Show Margins and you will see coloured lines around the edges of the page, which you can click to adjust the width and height of the print area.

On the first page of your part you will see an additional, differently coloured, horizontal line. This is for your first page header, where you can type the name of the piece and the composer, amongst other details. The text in this area will then appear the same on the first page of each part that you print from the song. By clicking and dragging this line, you can adjust the text up or down, and the first stave of the part will move up and down accordingly.

The Layout Tool

Your part should now be looking OK, but you may notice that some staves in the part have loads of bars and others are nearly empty. This is where the Layout tool comes to the rescue, as it moves bars and notes physically on the page, but not in time. It takes a bit of getting used to, but is incredibly helpful when it comes to saving space and sorting out the dodgy page turns that leave your instrumentalists throwing bits of paper around the studio mid-take.

Select the Layout tool and you'll see that the pointer turns white. Let's try moving some bars. Find a stave where the notes run to the end and continue on the next line. Click and hold the last bar of the first of these lines (the pointer will change to a hand) and move the mouse downwards (the tool help will read 'Move bar(s) downwards'). Now let go; you don't have to move the bar into position yourself, as Logic will do it. The bar you selected will now appear at the beginning of the next line. The same works in reverse to move a bar from the beginning of a line to the end of the previous line. This tool also allows you to move multiple bars by clicking earlier or later in the stave. After a bit of experimentation you'll see how useful this can be. Also note that, using the Layout tool, clicking and dragging individual notes and chords allows you to slide notes closer together or further apart.

A word of warning: when you're working through your part, a bar move will affect the layout of everything that follows. If you finish your part and you spot something you've missed halfway through the part, you'll have to correct it and then continue working from that point to the end of the part, as Logic will auto-reformat everything from your last edit onwards.

Now To Print...

Finally, you can enjoy the fruits of your labours. Open one of your finished parts in the Score window and click the Page View button at the top, to check how Logic is planning to print the part. I use the print preview button to do a final check and save the part as a PDF for later reprints and for emailing. Now hit 'Print'. Hurrah!  

Instrument Transposition & Ranges

There are a number of publications available that deal with the ranges and transposition of the orchestral instruments you may come across while recording, and also quite a few web sites providing the same kind of information. Here I'll simply offer some help on the correct ranges and transposition for the instruments we've covered this month and last month. The ranges given here are a guide, and it's worth remembering that many instruments have larger ranges when they're played by advanced players. However, the closer you get to the extremes of the range of any wind or brass instrument, the harder it is to play, and significant tone and volume changes will result.

Better Logic Scores: Part 2: Further ImprovementsThere are a number of types of trumpet (A, C, D and B-flat, for example), and they're used for different purposes. The most commonly played, and thus the one you are most likely to come across, is the trumpet in B-flat. This simply means that when a trumpet plays a 'C' as written on the music, it actually sounds a whole tone lower than written — a B-flat on your keyboard, known as 'Concert B-flat'. The lowest note it plays is an F-sharp written below the stave and the highest is E-flat above the stave (this is the highest note expected in the Grade 8 Trumpet exam). Many advanced players can reach notes higher than this, and it's common for jazzers to be playing a lot higher. With this in mind, it's probably worth checking your player's comfortable range.

More bizarre than the trumpet is the alto sax (which is why I thought I'd put it in our brass section!). The alto sax is an E-flat instrument and sounds a (minor) sixth lower than written. So when the alto plays a 'C' it actually sounds the E-flat six notes lower than the 'C' written on the music. However, all saxes have the same written range: low 'A' to high F-sharp. (It's worth remembering that some older saxes don't have the 'F-sharp key', so their top note is 'F' above the stave.) The tenor sax has the same written range, but is in B-flat and sounds one octave and a tone lower than written. So when writing sax parts it's important to keep in mind the pitch you want to hear, to ensure the ranges are correct for the saxes that will play the parts. A lot of sax players play more than one sax, and some play all of them. This could give you the opportunity to switch saxes to record different sections — but remember to print separate parts for each instrument.

The trombone has two options! Occasionally you may find a trombonist who has grown up in the world of brass bands. In this situation the instrument is usually treated as a B-flat type, similar to the trumpet in B-flat but sounding an octave and a tone below the note printed in the treble clef. Most trombonists, however, learn to play 'classically', which puts them back in the arena of 'concert' instruments. In other words, 'C' equals 'C'. These parts use the bass clef, as it's a lower-pitched instrument.

Shown above is the standard B-flat (tenor) trombone range in bass and treble clefs (left and middle, respectively). The B-flat trombone range sounds as the example on the right, above, which takes into account transposition of an octave and a tone. Some players have a trombone with extra tubing and a thumb valve usually called an 'F trigger'. This trigger helps the player to use alternative slide positions and increases the lower range of the instrument.

Published July 2008