Logic Pro From A to Z – C is for Controlling Complexity

Logic Pro From A to Z - C is for Controlling Complexity

Creating carefully crafted arrangements is what Logic Pro is all about. Clearly it has a plethora of tools to help us with this process. One of the most fundamental aspects of computing, using the clipboard’s copy and paste functions, has myriads of uses and applications in Logic Pro. Regions in the main area, notes in the MIDI editors, presets, settings, markers, tempo, and signature events can all be copied using the key command C. Doing this places them in Logic Pro’s invisible clipboard, available for pasting at new locations or positions in the timeline.

Logic Pro From A to Z – Copying

Copying to the clipboard like this is nothing new on it’s own. Logic Pro has some ancillary functions though to make this basic feature a very powerful part of one’s workflow. When editing in large complex projects, creating selections is half the battle in effective copy/paste style editing. Locators, an underused aspect of Logic Pro, provide a great tool for selection criteria.

Customizing the Control Bar to include the Locators in the “Custom” LCD view enables left and right locator fields that can be used as the basis for copying. Let’s say you want to copy the MIDI notes in a specific area of a larger region. Set the locators at the start and end of the desired range in the timeline. And use the Select –> All inside locators command under the Edit menu to make your selection. You can now copy just this portion of the part to your clipboard. This will work with tempo and signature events as well.

01 select inside locators

Common copy/paste tasks often include the need to copy just specific notes within a region, or a certain area of a region. Click on a note along the piano keyboard in the Piano Roll editor to select notes of the same pitch. If you want to then restrict the selection to only the notes within a specific locator range, follow that up with the Edit menu command Deselect Outside Locators. Your customized selection is now available for copying to the clipboard.

02 Deselect outside locators

Clipboard based copying though is not the only way to copy elements in your project. Option dragging works great on notes in the editors and on regions in the Main Window. Sometimes though you’ll need to copy only part of a region. Locator based selections are not the most efficient way to tackle this task. Select the portion of the region you want to copy with the marquee tool. Switch back to the pointer tool and Option drag the marquee selection to copy only the portion of the region that is selected. When you release the mouse you will have created a copy without splitting your original source region! To work really efficiently, assign the Marquee tool as the alternate tool so that you can access it with the key.

Logic Pro From A to Z – Cycling

Creating great music requires attention to detail. Cycle mode is an excellent tool to confine playback to a limited area in order to facilitate close examination. This is great not only for editing, but for mixing and critical listening as well. Use the key command C to enable cycle mode. The start and end positions of the cycle range are determined by the left and right locator positions. You can also easily drag the cycle in the bar ruler to adjust it. Drag the ends to change the length, or drag from the middle to move it.

03 Cycle Mode

, and . are really useful key commands for moving the locators backwards/forwards by the cycle length. Let me explain: let’s say you have a cycle length of four bars set. Hit play to cycle through those four bars. When you are ready to move on, use . to move the cycle to the next four bars; all without stopping the transport! Use these two forward/backward key commands to easily move around your project, focusing in on a specific area for as long as you need to. I particularly like doing this when I am either listening carefully to try and identify some bad notes, or mixing and want to hear one section at a time over and over before moving on.

Critical listening while cycling is also a crazy efficient way of creating a smoothly looping region from a longer audio file. Use ctrl C in the Audio File editor to cycle audition a selection. Let’s say you want to create a smoothy looping region that is part of a longer audio file, use this function to have the selected area play continuously while tweaking the start and/or end positions of the selection until the loop sounds smooth and even. Follow this up with the Create New Region command from the local Edit menu, and you are golden!

04 Cycle Audition

Logic Pro From A to Z – Colouring

Clarity in complex projects is critical to clearly controlling what is going on and where. Colour is a great aid in managing complexity. Colouring regions in the Main Window is yet another useful vehicle for selective selection. C is the key command to bring up the colour picker. Clicking on a colour will apply that colour to selected regions. Select one, and use C to select all regions of the same colour. Use this to create a custom set of regions that you will need to select and treat together that may otherwise be unrelated (exist on different tracks, in different locations in the project, etc.) I sometimes use this for all background vocal regions, or all brass regions; and maybe a different colour for different sections of the song. So I can easily select them all with C

Colours are also useful in the Piano Roll editor. Note colour can be determined either by velocity, MIDI channel, or region colour in the local View menu. C will then select notes of equal colour. This is a great way to make velocity based or MIDI channel based note selections, or region based note selections when viewing the contents of multiple regions simultaneously. Colour based selection works well in the Mixer window as well.

05 Colour

Clearly crafting carefully constructed arrangements involves many tasks. Effective copy/paste techniques facilitates controlled editing. Cycling caters to those of us who like to focus attention on one section of music at a time. And the creative use of colour contributes visual contrast that makes for useful selection criteria as well as for controlled organization in complex projects.

Eli Krantzberg
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Eli Krantzberg

Apple Certified Pro Eli Krantzberg is an internationally known author and music software trainer for Groove3. His instructional videos have helped demystify music software such as Logic Pro, Pro Tools, Sonar, BFD, Melodyne, and Kontakt for thousands of users all over the world. Based in Montreal, Canada, Eli is involved in all aspects of audio production. In his studio he works with various artists, as well as on commercial jingles, corporate videos, and original music composition.
Eli Krantzberg
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