Logic Pro: Handling Repetition

Apple Logic Pro Tips & Techniques
By David Ricard

The Copy Section Between Locators function copies all the tracks without cutting the regions, and moves the selection to the clipboard.

Logic offers a number of ways to repeat your notes and phrases.

Since repetition is a major component of music, it makes sense that it would make up a large portion of what goes into creating it. Let’s look at some of the ways in which we handle repetition in Logic Pro.

One of the most essential functions we require in composing is the ability to repeat regions in our arrangements. By simply clicking on a region (or group of regions) and hitting Command+R, you can create a duplicate. Keep hitting this combination to continue making additional copies. If you know that you want an exact number of repeats, you can right‑click on the selection, go to Edit and choose Repeat Regions / Events Multiple Times... From there, type in the number of copies you need.

As you would expect, this behaviour also works on notes in the Piano Roll window as well as in the Notation Editor.

Copy That

I’m sure you all know how to copy and paste regions, but I’ve been surprised to find that many Logic Pro users rely on only one method of doing so, when some of the alternatives might suit them better in certain situations.

Select any region in the arrangement window and hit Command+C. Now move the playhead to wherever you want the region copied to and hit Command+V. Basic stuff. Equally useful is clicking a region and Option‑dragging it to create a copy.

If you want to copy an entire section of your song with all of the tracks included, the most efficient way is to place the locators inside the measures you want to copy, and go to Edit / Cut/Insert Time / Copy Selection Between Locators. You can now hit Command+V to paste wherever you place the playhead. This function eliminates the need to select all of the tracks and cut them before copying.

Record Repeat

If nailing the perfect take gives you fits of frustration, you should acquaint yourself with the Record Repeat function. Open up your Key Command window (Control+K) and search for it. Assign it a command that you can easily remember and, more importantly, type with one hand with minimal contorting. When you are recording yourself, you should consider adopting this as your main recording command.

Here’s a scenario that I used to find myself repeating: I record a few bars of guitar into Logic Pro. The take is horrible. I hit the space bar to stop. I can either Command+Z to undo the recording, or I can click on the region and delete it (and have to click OK when the ‘delete file?’ warning appears) before hitting Record again.

Of course I could just press Record again after hitting the space bar and allow Logic to create a take folder. And while this could make sense if I planned on comping a part together from various takes, I’m usually merely trying to get a somewhat simple part down and would prefer to avoid the extra mess in the Arrange window. Yes, take folders are an invaluable tool; however, one drawback to them is that they are a bit cumbersome to deal with once Flex edits are needed for pitch or timing (which, in my case, they always are!). I’d rather just have one clean version or, at least, get something usable before adding additional takes.

With Record/Record Repeat selected in the Record button drop‑down menu, the button (or key command) now sends the playhead to where the recording starts (including count‑in) while deleting the previous take.

This is where Record Repeat comes to the rescue. Start recording as you normally would (with or without Cycle enabled), but once you determine that you need another attempt, do not press the space bar or anything other than your new command for Record Repeat. Using this function returns the playhead to where you began, erases presumably your previous take, and starts recording again — all with one command! If you do hit the space bar, Record Repeat will still work but it will not delete your previous take.

If the idea of creating a new key command for basic recording is too much of an adjustment to make to your workflow, you have another option. Click and hold on the Record button in the Control Bar (not to be confused with the Toolbar) and select Record / Record Repeat. Now, once you’re recording your take, you can just hit the on‑screen Record button (without stopping) to achieve the same result.

Note Repeat

Whenever Logic has an upgrade and a list of new features is presented, I have a bad habit of completely ignoring anything that I don’t anticipate using in the next 20 minutes. When I eventually discover a (new to me) feature, it’s already old news. Fortunately, I’ve come to learn that many Logic users share this dicey habit. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the new (since 2015!) feature called Note Repeat.

Note Repeat works as an intermediary between the notes you play and what’s recorded into Logic...

Note Repeat works as an intermediary between the notes you play and what’s recorded into Logic, regardless of what track is selected. Probably the best example of what Note Repeat can do is when programming hi‑hats.

With a drum instrument track selected, open up Note Repeat. This can be accomplished by hitting Option+Control+Return or, alternatively, you could access it from the Toolbar.

When you strike any note it will play back in sync at the note value indicated in the Rate field. With the Modulation Wheel box ticked, you can then set up a range of values to scroll between. Employing the note duration buttons gives you more steps along the range. By simply holding down your hi‑hat key and moving the mod wheel, you’ll quickly get a creative groove going. The mod wheel is an obvious choice for this controller, but I prefer to use pitch‑bend as it makes it a bit more precise to dial in a performance, especially if your range is only a few values. If you’re feeling especially ambitious, you can set a velocity range and use aftertouch (or any controller) to manage your dynamics.

The Note Repeater MIDI effect has a simple interface and can add movement to lines, phrases, and pads.

What makes Note Repeat alluring is that it’s not an arpeggiator; it’s actually playing the notes for you. When you record your performance, the individual notes are captured and, thus, can be edited just like anything else in Logic. That means that you don’t necessarily need to nail the mod wheel timing on the fly. If changing hi‑hat rhythms from the mod wheel is a bit counter‑intuitive, click the Key Remote box to enable a keyswitching method.

I doubt that Note Repeat is intended to help people record tight rhythms. Between quantising and basic editing, it’s easy enough to get a programmed pattern that you’re happy with. Note Repeat has more appeal as a live feature. This becomes increasingly evident if you have Logic Remote installed on an iPad. Simply play a hi‑hat pad with two fingers and spread your digits to change the rate.

Don’t Fear The Repeater

If you’re looking for a cross between Note Repeat and an arpeggiator, look no further than the Note Repeater. And while we’re at it, let’s applaud Logic for coming up with some of the most literal and anodyne names for its features.

While Note Repeat is a function for inputting notes, Note Repeater is a MIDI effect. You load it onto a software instrument track and it does its work on the incoming and recorded MIDI. It’s a subtle distinction but worth noting. When you hold down one note with Note Repeat open, it will record a series of notes into Logic. Conversely, when you do the same with Note Repeater, just the one note is recorded.

While it may appear that Note Repeat is a type of arpeggiator, it actually generates MIDI notes that get recorded.

When you open Note Repeater, it defaults to three repeats, which is actually a great starting point. For every one note you play, Note Repeater will play three (represented by the vertical bars) at the duration specified by the Delay slider. Technically, the first one isn’t a repeat because it’s the original note. If you wanted to omit the first note from your sequence, you could turn off Thru.

The Velocity Ramp percentage is where you make your echoes fade out (negative values) or ramp up (positive values). Transpose changes the pitch of the repeats. Because it uses the same interval for each repeat, the results (unless you set it 12) can be less useful... or more useful, depending on how weird you are!

Keep in mind that this is MIDI (note) pitch not actual pitch. So if you apply transpose to a hi‑hat in a drum kit, Note Repeater will play back other drums in the kit. Surprisingly, this can yield some unexpectedly satisfying results.

At the risk of repeating myself, Logic offers numerous methods for repeating oneself.  

Published March 2023

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