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Creating A Drum Editor In Logic

Logic Tips & Techniques
Published March 2006
By Stephen Bennett

To cable between Environment Layers, hold down the Alt key while clicking on an object's cable output. This brings up a hierarchical menu containing all available objects to which it can be cabled.To cable between Environment Layers, hold down the Alt key while clicking on an object's cable output. This brings up a hierarchical menu containing all available objects to which it can be cabled.

Some users of Steinberg's Cubase complain that Logic has no specialised drum editor. Little do they know that Logic lets you actually build your own.

To a new user, Logic can often seem to be packed with mysterious and arcane features. As time has passed, Apple have simplified the program and made certain features seemingly redundant and only apparently retained for backwards compatibility. One of these features is the Hyper Edit window — I've met quite experienced Logic users who have never even opened this window. Another is the Mapped Instrument object from the Environment, and some Logic users have never looked in the Environment at all! Combining these two features rectifies a common criticism of Logic often made by those who use, or have recently moved from, Cubase, namely that Logic doesn't have a dedicated drum editor. So this article describes how to create one in Logic.

A specialised drum editor can be really useful especially if you are a 'mouse' drummer who prefers to enter your percussive data with your finger rather than using sticks or the keyboard. It can also be a boon to those who enter drum data with a keyboard or specialised percussion controller, as it makes it easier to visualise previously recorded data on an on-screen grid. It's particularly useful for those wanting to emulate such systems as Page R on the Fairlight CMI, and it's also similar to, though more flexible than, the step sequencer in Ultrabeat. As with all Logic 's editing windows, data recorded here can be modified elsewhere.

Logic v7.2 News

The latest Logic-related news from the NAMM show in California is that Apple were showing an Universal Binary form of Logic Pro, which runs on the latest Intel-based Macs as well as on PowerPC-based machines. This new software version is due to become available for a small fee in March as v7.2, and will also include a number of other refinements including improved support for hardware control surfaces, multi-channel software instruments, and Propellerhead Software's Rewire protocol.

Setting Up A Mapped Instrument

To build the drum editor you first need to create and set up a Mapped Instrument in the Environment. I always like to create a new Layer when creating something like a drum editor, so first open the Environment and click and hold over the Layer name area. You can then double-click on the default name and call it something useful, such as Drum Inst. (Logic limits the number of characters in these text boxes.)

It's worthwhile labelling the keys in the Mapped Instrument's setup window to reflect which drum sound is triggered from each. The advantage of doing this is that then the Hyper Edit window can be configured automatically to match.It's worthwhile labelling the keys in the Mapped Instrument's setup window to reflect which drum sound is triggered from each. The advantage of doing this is that then the Hyper Edit window can be configured automatically to match.On the new Layer, create a Mapped Instrument from the New menu. The Instrument will open, but close it for now. Make sure the box next to the Icon field in the Parameters is ticked, otherwise the object won't appear in the Arrange page. You can rename the object to something useful by either using the Text tool or by double-clicking in the name field in the Parameters box. In this case I've called it Ultrabeat Mapped Drums, because I'm going to use Logic 's Ultrabeat drum plug-in to actually produce the sounds in this example — to do this I've cabled the Mapped Instrument object to an Instrument Audio object containing Ultrabeat. To create the cable between the Environment Layers, you click and hold on the little arrow at the top right of the Mapped Instrument while holding down the Alt key to access a hierarchical menu where you can select the requisite Instrument Audio object — Logic will ask you if you want to remove the channel's port setting, so click on Remove. You'll now notice that the Mapped Instrument has a stubby cable coming from the arrow. This indicates that it's been cabled 'through' Environment Layers to the required Instrument.

If you double-click on the Mapped Instrument, a window will open where you can actually play the loaded Ultrabeat sounds by clicking on the keyboard on the left. You can then label each key with the actual drum sounds that are loaded into Ultrabeat by double-clicking on the Input name column. The Initialise menu allows you to set the drum names to various defaults that may speed up this process in some cases. This stage is an important one in the setting up of the drum editor, so it's worthwhile talking the time to enter the names correctly. You can create many Mapped Instruments for the different drum sets which you use in your music and cable them to whichever Environment objects you want to provide the actual sounds.

Building The Drum Editor

It makes sense to set up your Multi Mapped Instruments on their own separate Layer, because this makes it much quicker to select as a Track Instrument in the Arrange window.It makes sense to set up your Multi Mapped Instruments on their own separate Layer, because this makes it much quicker to select as a Track Instrument in the Arrange window.If you select the Ultrabeat Mapped Drums object from the Arrange page, you'll notice that your previously created Environment Layer is now a pull-down menu on the Arrange window's Track column. Put Logic into Record Pause mode by clicking on the Transport bar Pause button followed by Record — just don't press Play! From your controller keyboard play in each note to which you have assigned drum sounds. In our example, we'd play in all the notes from C1 to B2, which play the sounds Kick 1 to Ride 2. Now click on the Stop button to bring Logic out of Record Pause mode. Notes will have been created at the Song Position Line for all the drum sounds.

Make sure the sequence is selected and open the Hyper Edit window from the main Windows menu. In the Hyper Edit window select Create Hyper Set, and then choose Clear Hyper Set from the Hyper menu. You'll be left with a single Volume definition in the right-hand side of the Hyper Edit window, which you should select and then delete using the Delete Event Definition menu item.

Once you have a clear Hyper Edit window, select the Multi Create Event Definition menu item from the Hyper menu. Click on All when Logic asks you to create the event definitions. A Hyper Set will now be created comprising event definitions bearing the names and note numbers of the drum sounds derived from the Mapped Instrument. Double-click the MIDI controls label and enter a more useful name, such as UBeat Drum Ed in this case. You can now delete the small MIDI sequence on the Arrange page which you used to create the Hyper Set.

Logic Tips

Mac OS X Tiger's Aggregate Device was one of the most eagerly anticipated features of the upgrade from Panther, as it allowed several hardware audio interfaces to appear as one combined interface within Logic and any other program. I've been using it with MOTU 896 Firewire and Aleisis X25 USB interfaces in order to access the latter's extra I/O pair for a send-return loop to a reverb — any latency is not really a problem, as it just adds a little pre-delay. I usually work with the Software Monitoring Audio Preference switched on so I can use monitor-only plug-in effects when recording vocals, the low-latency settings being perfectly usable on a Powermac G5. I've just bought a Line 6 Toneport guitar effects processor, which also doubles as a USB audio interface, so I created an Aggregate Device with the Toneport and the MOTU 896. My plan was to record guitar by selecting the Toneport inputs for recording while monitoring everything through the MOTU 896's outputs, as these are the ones connected to my monitoring system. This worked, except that the latency produced in this combination was quite unacceptable. As I don't need any of Logic 's effects while recording guitar, I switched off Software Monitoring, only to find that the audio from the Toneport could then only be routed through it's own outputs! It seems that Logic requires Software Monitoring to be On for the Aggregate Device to work. I can't find any mention of this anywhere in Apple's literature on the subject, so it's worth bearing in mind if you wish to use this feature.

Logic Express is a powerful and cost/CPU-efficient version of Logic, and many people have found that the feature list it provides is quite enough for their requirements. However, as you might expect given the price difference between it and Logic Pro, it has some limitations. Fortunately, some of these can be overcome with a bit of lateral thinking. An example of this is the Logic Express restriction on the number of physical audio inputs you can use to twelve, irrespective of how many you actually have on your audio interface. However, Apple's Garageband will allow you to use as many inputs as your audio interface has. So if you create a Song in Garageband with as many inputs as you wish to use, and then import it into Logic Express, the extra inputs become available alongside the 'allowed' 12.

Speaking of Garageband, given its higher CPU load you sometimes get Songs which won't run because the program complains that it's running out of CPU power. However, minimising the program into the Dock can sometimes get the Song to run nonetheless — it seems Garageband 's main resource hog is its nice graphics, so let's hope Logic doesn't inherit that particular feature!

Using Your New Editor

The Hyper Set becomes the 'matrix' upon which you can now draw your drum parts. Say you wanted to create a four-bar loop using the drum editor. First select the Ultrabeat Mapped Drums object from the Arrange page and use the Pencil tool to create an empty MIDI sequence, dragging it so it's four bars long. Select the sequencer and open the Hyper Edit window, and then choose the Ubeat Drum Ed Hyper Set from the pull-down menu under the Toolbox. The Pencil tool can now draw in notes for each drum sound using the different event definition lanes, and the Eraser tool can delete individual notes.

Each event definition can have it's own quantise grid, selected from the Grid pull-down menu in the Parameters box — this menu contains all of Logic 's usual quantise values, as well as any you've created yourself. You could, for example, set the Kick drum to eighth note or the hi-hat to 1/16th note, and then drag the pencil horizontally across the channel to quickly create notes. If you want to create a series of fixed-velocity notes, first create a single note at the velocity you want, then tick the Fix Value box underneath the Parameters and draw in new notes — they will all be at the same velocity value as your 'seed' note.

Creating patterns in the completed drum editor Hyper Set.Creating patterns in the completed drum editor Hyper Set.One special feature of the Hyper Edit window is particularly useful for hi-hat parts. A real drummer will only play one type of hi-hat hit at a time, as even the best players cannot play open, closed, and pedal hi-hats simultaneously! If you click to the left of the drum instrument name, a small 'hi-hat mode' icon is created, and this only allows one note at a time to be output from that particular event definition lane.

There are other Hyper Edit window features which come in useful when it's being used as a drum editor. Let's say you want to create a snare roll rising in volume, first click and drag using the Pencil tool to create a series of snare-drum notes at the desired Grid resolution (or play in a roll roughly from the keyboard and quantise it as necessary). Untick the Fix Value box and select the Crosshairs tool. Click at the bottom of the first note and drag the mouse to the top of the last note. You'll see a line attached to the mouse pointer. Clicking at the top of the last note will draw a line over the notes and create an upward velocity ramp. You can edit individual note velocities using the Arrow or Pencil tools if you select only one note — selecting a whole range of notes will cause the range of velocities to be moved up and down with the mouse. As you can imagine, drawing in drum parts in the editor makes it easy to build up complex drum patterns.

Of course, you can enter data into the drum editor in all the usual ways. If you are looping around a four-bar part in the Arrange page to create a sequence, you'll want to activate the Merge New Recording With Selected Region item in the Recording submenu of the Song Settings menu. This way the notes from each loop-through are placed into the same MIDI sequence in the Arrange window. You can use the Functions menu to quantise any selected note data or use the Transform menu to put back a bit of random variation into strictly drawn drum parts — the Humanise preset is particularly useful here, though you may want to set the Position Condition to Thru and only randomise velocities.

So that's all you need to know to get started with matrix-style drum editing in Logic. If you like this way of working, then you'll be pleased to know that the drum editor works in conjunction with all the other MIDI editors in Logic, and it can be used to record and edit any data, not just drum and percussive parts.

Published March 2006