Programming Swing In Logic Pro

akai mpc

Let’s dive into programming ‘swing’ in Logic Pro. Some call it ‘groove’, or ‘shuffle’. It’s what you get when you delay every even numbered note in an 8th or 16th note pattern. Logic Pro offers a myriad of swing presets and quantizing parameters to get your groove on. We’ll quickly look at those. To keep workflow tight, we’ll also have a look at how to quickly select the notes that make things groovy, if you want to go beyond the presets…

Groovy Presets

logic pro swing presetsThe swing presets, for both 8th and 16th notes, range from A to F. Things actually start to swing from the B presets and up. The 16B Swing preset delays all even numbered notes by 20 ticks, and the 8B Swing preset does so by 40 ticks. The 16C Swing preset delays them by 40 ticks, the 8C Swing preset by 80. And so on. The presets are there to get you started. You could also try to set Quantize to 16th notes in the Parameter Box, and use Q-Swing (underneath Quantize) to set a percentage for a swing feel. Another option is to pick a swing preset as a starting point, then refine its strength with Q-Strength in the Advanced Quantization section of the Parameter Box. Play with these parameters for a while, you’ll quickly notice that Logic Pro is Quantize King. And if this isn’t enough – you want to give every other ‘swing note’ a different feel perhaps? – let’s walk through some selection and programming techniques that should keep you happy.

Selecting Equal Subpositions

I’ve programmed a tambourine as an example, in 4/4 time, using the Piano Roll. Look at this 2-bar 16th note pattern:

logic pro swing

How did I select the even numbered notes so quickly? I didn’t – I selected them by hand. Tedious work, so let’s step aside for a minute and look at some options to improve that workflow. Since it’s notes with specific subpositions that we’re after, choosing Edit>Select Equal Subpositions in the Piano Roll editor may sound like a good idea:

logic pro swing

Here I selected the second and the fourth note by hand, then pressed shift+P to select all notes with an equal subposition. This doesn’t help much: the function looks for equal subpositions in every measure. We need it to look at every beat.

Increasing the denominator temporarily

So wouldn’t it be great if we could increase the resolution of that edit function? We can, by temporarily increasing the denominator in the time signature field of the Transport Bar. After setting the denominator to 16, a measure will contain just one beat instead of 4 and as a result, the edit function now selects every even numbered note in the pattern:

logic pro swing

This should save you some time in the future! Don’t forget to set the time signature back to where it was to avoid confusion.

Selecting Equal Colored Events

Another tip to keep your drum programming workflow tight is to start using colors right from the beginning. Colors correspond to different velocities, here we just use colors to speed up the note selection process and worry about the actual velocities later.

logic pro swing

I inserted just 4 notes with the pencil tool, used the ‘Crescendo’ preset in Functions>Transform to have the note velocity decrease from 127 to 1, then repeated that 7 times with cmd+R with ‘Adjustment’ set to ‘Beat’. Now we can select notes with specific subpositions by color with Edit>Select Equal Colored Events or shift+C. A drawback is that we get to select just one color each time we use that edit function. A solution in this example is to select the yellow notes first with shift+C, temporarily change the pitch with +, then select the blue notes, and temporarily change their pitch, like so:

logic pro swing

This method is quicker than it sounds. Now we have easy access to those groovy notes.

Step Time Programming With The Caps Lock Keyboard

The Caps Lock Keyboard is a great tool for highly organized drum programming.

logic pro steptime programming

The bottom keys of the Caps Lock Keyboard control the velocities of the notes you play – for this specific pattern I typed M,T,N,T,B, T,V,T. Before you begin editing in step time, make sure your locator is at the correct position (the beginning of the sequence), the Midi In switch is on (the red switch in the picture) and the grid is set to the division you want to be programming in (you can do this below the Time Signature in the Transport Bar).

That’s it for now, happy shufflin’! Drop me a comment if you think I’ve missed something.

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  • Ethan

    LOL! Dude, your awesome! Love this blog. You definitely know your stuff and I really appreciate you sharing all this great info.

    • Thanks Ethan, and thanks for dropping by!

  • Daniel

    awesome stuffs i wish i get enough time to dig deeper cheers!!!!!!!!

  • Adam

    Another great tutorial. Thanks danski.

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