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Logic Pro from A to Z – R is for (Note) Repeat

Logic Pro X Note Repeat Header

After looking at Logic Pro X’s Smart Quantize feature, Eli Krantzberg takes a look at Note Repeat in Logic Pro X, and how it can be used to program complex rhythm parts.

Repeat Things

Right at the core of creating music, whether it’s composing, arranging, editing, mixing, remixing, creating mashups, or whatever; is repeating stuff. When we play our instruments with other musicians in an organized manner (i.e.: playing songs), a large part of what we do, on whatever instrument it is we are playing, is repeat things. Patterns, notes, phrases, rhythms, etc. And we’re all just musicians trying to use our DAWs to do this, make music, in one way or another. Each DAW has slightly different tools to help us accomplish this, but one of the defining characteristics of working in a DAW, every single DAW on the planet has had this since their very first versions, is the ability to repeat things.

Reproducing our ideas in our DAWs involves, to various degrees, repeating regions, notes, edits, CC events, automation nodes, etc. Our notions of how and what to repeat are informed by our musical sensibilities that we have developed along with our technical abilities. But now there is a new function in Logic Pro X 10.1, the Note Repeat function, that is, at least for me, providing ways of repeating notes in varying rhythms that I previously would never have conceived of before. In addition to being informed by my own musical sensibilities, some of the rhythmic parts I create now are shaped and designed almost exclusively by this new function.

Rhythms and Repeating Patterns

Rhythms involve repetition. It’s the nature of what a rhythm is. When we think of programming drum parts, we might tend to think in terms of repeating eight notes on the hi hat (or ride cymbal or shaker.) Or sixteenth notes. Or some combination of the two. Maybe incorporate some rests for variety. Maybe switch the way they are repeated together in different sections of a song. As a (right handed) drummer, this is the way I generally think: ”Okay, what sort of repeating pattern will I play with my right hand to keep the groove together? And what can I play with my left hand and right foot that will compliment the music and fit together with the repeating pattern in the right hand?”

R is for (Note) Repeat

Rigorously running through all the variations I can think of (which are usually limited equally by my technique and by my imagination) I end up with a part. Programming drum parts in a DAW erases the technique part of the limitation. And now, Note Repeat erases the imagination limitation. It generates sophisticated evolving and intricate rhythms that are completely removed from my own ideas and technical abilities as a drummer. And yet they are so musical sounding!

Realistically, the ability to generate these sorts of complex rhythms was available before Note Repeat. But it was just much much much harder to create these types of constantly shifting parts using traditional cut and paste repetition style techniques. What I really like about the Note Repeat function is that it allows for a performance aspect. Musical gestures (either key switch style note triggering, Mod wheel, or MIDI CC movement) can be used to influence the rate at which it generates notes. You are controlling the algorithm!

Respecting the minimum and maximum values you enter in the Note Repeat dialogue, Logic Pro X will generate notes moving between those values. At its essence, that is what it does. Call up the Note Repeat dialog either from the button in the toolbar, or a user defined key command.

01 Logic Pro X Note Repeat Button

Reveal the additional settings by clicking the disclosure triangle found on the left side of the Note repeat dialogue.

02 Logic Pro X Note Repeat Additional Settings

Ramping up and down between the minimum and maximum values by means of the mod wheel is my preferred method of controlling the rate at which repeated notes are generated. Notice that by shift-clicking on the musical note icons at the bottom right, either triplet or dotted values can be included in the rhythmic values used between the minimum and maximum values. Basically, all you do is hold down a single note on your controller, and let Note Repeat do the rest of the work!

03 Logic Pro X Note Repeat Note Values

Rarely does a tool stimulate your imagination like this one does. Really you need to see and hear how this works in action to get an idea of the interesting parts it can generate.

Watch here:

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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