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Marquee Tool Tips in Logic

Logic Tips & Techniques
By Len Sasso

The top track here shows a four-bar sequence for which looping has been turned on. The track below it shows what happens when the Marquee slices the second iteration of the loop after the first and third bars — the three new slices become real copies, and another real copy follows them, looped as before. The third track shows the same edit when the original four-bar region was copied rather than looped. Sonically, all these tracks are identical.The top track here shows a four-bar sequence for which looping has been turned on. The track below it shows what happens when the Marquee slices the second iteration of the loop after the first and third bars — the three new slices become real copies, and another real copy follows them, looped as before. The third track shows the same edit when the original four-bar region was copied rather than looped. Sonically, all these tracks are identical.

Once you find out all the things you can do with the Marquee tool, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it, so we offer some advice on how to put it to work in your projects.

The Marquee tool in Logic can take a little getting used to, but once mastered it can be used to simplify many common operations, as well as to accomplish tasks that can't easily be done in other ways. If you've spent any time using graphics software, the Marquee tool will be no stranger; it is used to select a two-dimensional region within a graphics window. It does the same thing in Logic, but in this case one dimension spans time, while the other dimension spans multiple tracks. You can, of course, select multiple regions with Logic 's Pointer tool, but to select parts of multiple regions that fall within a specific time range, you need the Marquee tool.

Using The Marquee Tool

The Marquee tool is available only in the Arrange window (which is the only place it really makes sense), and it is the last tool in its Toolbox, indicated by a plus sign — this is also the cursor symbol when the Marquee tool is active. Notice that the first tool in the Toolbox is the Pointer, which means that you can quickly switch between the Pointer and Marquee tools using the Set Next Tool and Set Previous Tool Key Commands, while still having available an alternate tool (the Mute tool for example) accessible by holding the Apple key. Marquee selection exhibits the same 'snap' behaviour that you get when moving and sizing regions. In particular, you can use the Control key to achieve finer resolution, but both normal and fine-mode resolution depends on the current zoom setting.

Marquee Tool Tips in LogicOnce a Marquee area has been created, clicking within it with many (though not all) of the other tools causes all the regions within the Marquee area to be split at the Marquee-area boundaries. The tools typically have their regular effect as well; for example, clicking within the Marquee area with the Mute tool will both split and mute the portions of all regions within the Marquee area. Similarly, you can use the Text tool to simultaneously rename the new split regions, and you can use the Pointer tool to move or copy them by dragging. Conveniently, drag-copying does not result in the original regions being split. (To split the regions within the Marquee area without moving them, be sure to click on the top region; otherwise the whole selection will be moved to the click location.)

Many of Logic 's Key Commands also honour the Marquee area. Examples include Set Locators (both rounded and normal versions), Mute Objects (which simultaneously splits them at the Marquee boundaries), Cut, and Copy. Solo, whether by tool or Key Command, doesn't automatically solo the regions within the Marquee area; you need to split and select them first, which you can do by clicking with the Pointer tool, as already mentioned. The special Key Command Crop Objects Outside Marquee Selection acts on any region that falls partly within the Marquee area, and removes any part of it that lies outside.

Making An Audio CD From WAV Loops

I was recently recommended a great sample CD of funky drum loops, George Pendergast Alt.rockdrums. The only downside, as far as I am concerned, is that it's only available in WAV format — although the WAVs are great for working in Logic, it makes the CD a little tiresome to audition. With audio sample CDs you can listen through to prospective samples while, say, doing the dishes, which means that you don't have to waste studio time on this often rather uninspiring task. It would be easy to just drag 99 loops to a CD-burning program and burn one per track, but with typical loops this wastes most of the space on the disk. So I decided to use Logic to create larger files out of groups of loops, allowing me to burn the 250 main loops in the library to a single CD.

The best way I found of doing this was to set up an Arrange window with a single audio track in it, taking up the top half of the left-hand side of the computer monitor. I then opened up a folder in the Mac's Finder containing the WAV files, and sized that to cover the top half of the other side of the screen. I switched As Icons on in the Finder's View menu, selected the small Icon Size in the View Options, and then chose By Name from the Arrange submenu. Moving back into Logic, I increased the Arrange window's vertical zoom to maximum and the horizontal zoom to minimum.

I was then able to drag the first WAV file to the beginning Arrange window track (you can do this directly, without returning to the Finder). This should require only a very small mouse movement if you've set up the windows right, and you shouldn't need to be very accurate, either, as the zoomed Arrange-window track is so high — both important considerations given the number of files there are to import. After dragging in the second file, I used the Tie Objects By Position Change Key Command to butt it up against the previous one, before continuing this process with the rest of the files, periodically returning to the Finder to scroll the file window. Although this is a tedious process, it did allow me to import 250 loops, in order, in about 20 minutes. You can drag files into the Arrange window up to 20 at a time, using Tie Objects By Position Change again to spread them out end to end. However, this messes with their order, and I wanted to keep the audio files correctly ordered so that I could easily find the WAV file associated with any particular track on the CD.

After importing the files, I reduced the tempo by 5bpm from the Transport window, therefore creating small gaps between the different loops. Listening through to the running order, I then selected groups of adjacent loops which I wanted on the same audio CD track and used the Merge Objects Key Command to create composite audio files in place of the individual loops. Once this was complete, I renamed the new Arrange regions with the Text tool and then opened the Audio window, choosing Select Used from the Edit menu, and then Save Regions As from the Audio File menu. This allowed me to save all these regions with their new names to a separate folder for burning to CD. All that remained was to import those files into Apple iTunes, in my case, and burn off a CD — the new file names made it easy to keep things in the right order. Mike Senior

Working With Loops & Aliases

In addition to the housekeeping chores mentioned so far, there are a number of creative uses for the Marquee tool. Because of its intelligent handling of loops, you can use it to cut, mute, or move a section of a looped region without disrupting the loop outside the Marquee area. Those operations have the same effect they would on real copies, except that the region reverts to looping as soon as it can be done while preserving the original loop.

The top track here shows the four-bar MIDI sequence again repeated, but this time using Aliases rather than real copies. Because of the way Aliases respond to Marquee-tool edits, the sound of the edited track below will be different — each new Alias will play from the beginning of the original MIDI sequence.The top track here shows the four-bar MIDI sequence again repeated, but this time using Aliases rather than real copies. Because of the way Aliases respond to Marquee-tool edits, the sound of the edited track below will be different — each new Alias will play from the beginning of the original MIDI sequence.

Here's an example to clarify. Suppose you have a four-bar region for which looping is turned on, and you use the Marquee tool to select bars two and three of one of the loops. If you then split the section within the Marquee, you will get real copies for each of the three loop sections (bar one, bars two and three, and bar four) followed by a real copy of all four bars, for which looping is again turned on. This means that the whole track will continue to sound exactly the same as it did before, but you are now free to alter the split parts as desired. (This is exactly what would happen if the loops were real copies in the first place, but you no longer need to go through the conversion process manually, nor convert loops beyond the affected area.)

The same does not work with Aliases, however. If you use the Marquee tool to split an Alias in the middle, each of the resulting segments will refer to the original region, and, in the above example, you would wind up with bar one of the loop, followed by bars one and two, followed by bar one again.

Touch Tracks & Multitrack Drums

If you use the Environment's Touch Tracks object, copying a Marquee provides a quick way to create transposable, multi-part loops. Suppose, for example, that you have four MIDI parts — piano, bass, guitar, and drums — on adjacent tracks, and you want to make a quick Touch Tracks object for triggering and transposing a few bars of the piano, bass, and guitar. (Normally you wouldn't transpose the drums, but you could use another Touch Tracks object to trigger them without transposition). First create tracks in the Arrange window, duplicating the instruments used for the piano, bass, and guitar parts. Next, Marquee the desired area and drag copies (by holding down the Alt key) to the newly created tracks. Select the copied regions and pack them into a new Arrange-window folder, then drag the folder to an open Environment window. That will automatically create a Touch Tracks object set up to trigger all regions in the folder and to transpose them relative to MIDI note C3. Assigning the Touch Tracks object to a track in the Arrange window and sending notes to that track (either live or sequenced) will trigger and transpose the three parts.

The Marquee tool is also a real time saver when you're dealing with multitrack MIDI drum parts that have, for example, one drum sound on each track. When you want to extract a clip from the middle of the drum tracks, simply make sure the drum sounds you want to include are on adjacent tracks (move tracks around as necessary), then Marquee all the relevant tracks over the desired region and use the Pointer tool or Key Commands to move or copy the selection wherever you want. That's much easier than first mixing the separate MIDI parts to a single sequence object, slicing that up, then demixing the parts.

Once you've spent some time working with the Marquee tool, you'll wonder how you ever managed without it!

Logic Tips

  • The MIDI note editors in Logic don't support direct scrubbing, but you can accomplish the same thing by scrubbing in a floating Arrange window using the Solo tool. Make sure the MIDI editor has Contents Link (chain-links button is gold) and Catch (walking-man button is blue) turned on, so that the MIDI editor will follow the scrubbing. This technique is most effective for the Matrix and Score editors. Len Sasso
  • The Multi Instrument object does not automatically route incoming MIDI messages to its sub-channels, and it's important to know this when you assign the Multi Instrument, rather than one of its sub-channels, to a Arrange-window track. It's also important to bear in mind when you're cabling other Environment objects into a Multi Instrument. For the purposes of cabling, you can reach individual sub-channels by Alt-clicking the outlet you're drawing the cable from and selecting the sub-channel from the Instrument menu. If you take the time to cable the separate outlets of a Channel Splitter to a Multi Instrument's sub-channels, you can then use the Channel Splitter on a track or as a cable destination for automatically routing MIDI messages by channel. Len Sasso
  • Logic is always recording MIDI input into a temporary buffer while it is playing. If you've played that perfect riff without enabling record, use the Capture Last Take As Recording Key Command to capture it after the fact. However, note that the temporary buffer is reset on any start or cycle jump, so it's best to do this before anything else. Len Sasso
Published November 2004