Workflow Tip: Using Alias Regions In Logic Pro 9
Working with Logic Pro 9 – or any DAW for that matter – will involve copying and pasting regions to make a musical arrangement. And with that, a lot of time will be wasted once those copies need to be replaced by fresh copies after the original region was changed. The bigger your arrangement gets, the more time this will cost. Alias Regions to the rescue!
Using Alias Regions In Logic Pro 9
Looping regions can help, but loops are what they are: great for repeating stuff. Even though alias regions are nothing more than a reference to a ‘real’ region, they are a lot more versatile than looped regions: they can be put on different tracks, they can be shifted in time, and what they play can still be altered by using the parameters that Logic Pro’s Region Inspector offers. This article is about how to use alias regions in Logic Pro 9, specifically the MIDI region alias. The audio region alias – called a region clone in Logic Pro – is quite a different story.
So, too much copy pasting? Time’s a wastin’… Let’s get started using alias regions already.
Creating An Alias Region
You can create an alias region by dragging a region while holding down ⌥+shift.
Above, two regions. The first one is the original region (the parent), the second one is an alias (the child). The only way you can tell that a region is an alias is by looking at the region’s name: it’s written in italics. Once you start implementing alias regions in your arrangement, I suggest you use colors in Logic Pro.
Selecting An Alias
By selecting an alias region, the content of the original region will show up in the Piano Roll, Hyper Editor, Event List and Score. Note the arrow: the editor windows must be linked. Any changes you make in any of these editors will be applied to the original region, not the alias.
Double Clicking An Alias
By double clicking an alias, you can either edit the original region, or turn the alias region into a real copy.
Left And Right Corner Changes Of An Alias
Above, I dragged the left corner of the alias region one bar to the right, and the right corner one bar to the left. Dragging left corners of alias regions is different than dragging left corners of regular regions: the left corner change results in the region alias being played one bar later, i.e. I could have just moved the alias region one bar to the right. The right corner change just makes the region alias shorter, as expected.
Deleting Regions With Assigned Aliases
Above, I intended to delete the original region. Logic Pro perfectly reminds me of the consequences: delete the original region (the parent), and the alias region (the child) will be orphaned. I can either go ahead and leave that alias region, or have Logic Pro convert it to a regular region. It will then contain the content of the deleted region.
Reassigning An Orphaned Alias
Above, I went ahead and deleted the original region, while keeping the alias. That alias has now turned into nothing but a reference to zilch.
Let’s reassign it.
Above, I’ve inserted a new original region with different content, and after selecting both regions, I used MIDI > Alias > Reassign to re-establish the parent/child relationship. The orphaned region we had before now has a new parent.
Adoption is a beautiful thing.
Alias Regions And The Region Inspector
Above, I transposed the original region up one octave and decreased the velocities by 20 in the region inspector. The alias region will not reflect these changes, unless I normalize the parameter changes with MIDI > Region Parameters > Normalize Region Parameters. Only then will the changes become part of the region’s content. And only then, the alias region will follow suit.
Above, I’ve done the exact same thing, this time to the alias. Now the alias will play whatever is in the original region, up one octave and with decreased velocities.
So, the parameters you get to tweak in Logic Pro’s Region Inspector is what give a region alias its independence from its parent region. This is one of the most important differences between region aliases and looped regions. Sofar, the stuff that’s in the manual. Moving right along…
Stacking Sounds With Alias Regions
Alias regions and their parent regions don’t have to be on the same track. This fact makes using alias regions very suitable for stacking sounds.
So what’s going on in the above picture?
- I’ve used colors: dark blue for the original region, light blue for the alias.
- I’ve copied the alias to two new tracks. These tracks play different instruments.
- I’ve looped some aliases, just to show that you can.
- I transposed the alias regions on the third track up one octave.
- I changed the name of the alias on the third track for clarity.
Should I ever want to change what is being played, I’ll just edit the original region.
The Alias On The Output Track
Above, I’ve taken it to the extreme a bit and programmed some drums just by using alias regions. Note the time shifted alias regions on the third track, and the altered region parameters of the selected alias regions on track four.
It’s worth noting here that tweaking region parameters such as velocity, dynamics, delay, and even the Advanced Quantization parameters can really spice up your drum programming. Whenever I’m working with expansive sample libraries this is one of my favorite methods to create a lot of variation with just a few original regions, and then work from there.
But what’s up with this No Output track?
Even though the original regions are on a No Output track, the alias regions will still play what’s in them. This shows – again, in an extreme manner – that you could build an entire song with alias regions alone, and keep the original regions completely ‘outside’ of your arrangement. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not suggesting you should program this way. It’s just to show how far you could take things in Logic Pro with a few regions and their ghost copies. Hopefully I’ve sparked you imagination.
Alias Regions And Automation
Normally, the content of a MIDI region contains note information about pitch, time, length, velocity, and controller data. By truly making the automation data part of the region’s content, alias regions will gladly refer to the automation data too. Read my article about how to put automation data inside a region to learn how that works. In that article I used loops, the same principles will apply to using aliases.
Bouncing Alias Regions
One final note: when you want to bounce in place an alias with ctrl+B, any parameter changes you’ve made in Logic Pro’s Region Inspector will be applied!