Logic Pro from A to Z – S is for Split, Splice and Splay
Songwriters write about separation all the time. In fact, Paul Simon once famously wrote about fifty ways to leave one’s lover. A friend of mine once quipped, “I don’t know why anyone would need or want more than one”; but that’s another article. Unlike unhappy lovers though, us Logic Pro users have and need many ways of splitting, separating and other wise pulling apart our notes, regions, and arrangements in order to realize our musical goals. Here I’ll look at ten different ways Logic Pro has of separating, splitting, and splicing our work; all towards creative ends.
1. Split Regions/Events at Playhead Position
Default key command assignment is Command T. This works great for splitting either regions, or notes in one of the MIDI editors based on the position of the playhead as a reference point for where the split will occur. It’s one of my top ten most used key commands.
2. Split Regions/Events at Rounded Playhead Position
Very similar in functionality to the above command. The difference is that when you invoke this command it will not do it at the precise position the playhead is at, but at the closet bar boundary instead. This is great for beat based cutting, when you want edits to happen exactly on the grid at bar lines. It’s a real time saver, since you don’t need to worry about positioning the playhead precisely. There’s no default key command assignment for it. I use Command Option Shift T.
3. Split Regions/Events at Locators or Marquee Selection
Default key command assignment is Command Control T. This provides a third criteria for making cuts. In addition to playhead position, and nearest bar line, this function uses locators or marquee selections as the basis for making cuts. If your region(s) overlap both locators, this function will result in two cuts; one at each locator. When using a marquee selection, two cuts will always result. I personally don’t use this command as much as the first two. Here’s why: My preferred method of creating locators is drawing a cycle range in the Bar Ruler. Unless I also have a need to establish the cycle range, I find it easier to drag across the region with the marquee tool. At that point it’s easier (IMHO) to simply click on the marquee selection to make the cut at the marquee boundaries than to use the key command. Particularly since my fingers are already on the mouse from having just created the marquee selection. This has the added advantage of leaving the locators intact, in case they are being used for another purpose (like cycling a different area in the time line.)
4. Scissor Tool and Option Key
Using the Scissor tool is of course another simple way of cutting regions or notes. If Snap to Grid is enabled in the Snap menu, cuts will be rounded. Adding the Option key though adds additional functionality. It creates repeated cuts at equal intervals based on the distance from the start of the note/region to the point at which you are cutting. So, if you have a four bar region for example and make your cut after the first quarter note, it will split the rest of the region at every quarter note. This is GREAT for beat based rhythms. It allows for quickly slicing up a loop based on beats or subdivisions. This paves the way for creating beat variations by easily rearranging the slices directly in the Tracks Area of the Main Window.
5. Slice at Flex markers
There is no default key command assignment, but the function is easily accessible by control clicking on a region in the Tracks area. Like all of the first three commands, this creates cuts based on user defined criteria. In the above examples playhead position, nearest bar line, and locators or marquee selection are used as the criteria for making cuts. With this function, manually created flex markers are used as the basis.
6. Slice at Transient Markers
As with the above, there is no default key command assignment, but it is easily accessible by right clicking on a region. Here the cuts are based not on user defined criteria, but on Logic’s transient detection algorithm. Cuts are made at peaks in the waveform. In advance of using this function, transients can be edited in the Audio File Editor. Either by using the +/- buttons that are visible when in Transient Editing Mode, editing the position of or deleting existing transient markers, or creating new ones with the Pencil Tool.
7. Cut Sections of Selected Arrangement Markers
There is no default key command assignment. For those who like manipulating arrangements of regions at the meta level using Arrangement Markers, this is a powerful tool. I use the term “meta level”, because this function is not based on selections. It operates on the entire arrangement, using Arrangement Markers as reference points for making cuts. Working with Arrangement Markers includes not only region data, but automation control points, and markers as well.
8. Convert Regions to New Sampler Track
Default key command is Control E, and it is also easily accessible by right clicking on a region and going to the “Convert” sub menu. This command serves multiple functions. It can take a region, cut it up based on transients, and then create an EXS 24 instrument with all the slices mapped. Or it can take an entire track and split it up based on the regions in the track, and map those out across an EXS 24 instrument. This latter function is great when combined with number 4 above. Use the Scissors tool with the option key to slice up a region, then use this function and have an EXS 24 instrument automatically created based on the regions created by splitting at specific beats or beat subdivisions. It’s like creating an instant Rex file, or a poor man’s version of Stylus RMX!
9. Separate MIDI Region by Note Pitch/MIDI Channel/Articulation ID
These are three separate commands available form the Separate MIDI Events submenu found in the main Edit menu. These are different than all the previous 8 functions described above, in that they do not cut or split data horizontally along the time line. Instead they separate data vertically, into newly created region stacked on top of each other. They are ways of pulling apart, or splaying, material existing in one region.
10. Voice Separation Tool
Like the above, nothing is actually cut or split. Instead, this Score Editor tool is used to separate notes in a single region based on user defined separation points (drawn like a line across the data) and assigning separate MIDI channels to the notes on either side of the separation line that is created. Like the function in number 9, it allows for separating and treating MIDI data vertically; so that notes that exist at the same position in time can be selected, edited, or routed uniquely.
So, these are just some of the many functions that allow us to edit and occasionally leave selected data behind as we move forward creating our music. There may not be exactly fifty ways, but clearly the more tools and techniques we have to manipulate our arrangements, regions, slices, and notes, the more precisely we can carve out and use or leave behind what best serves our musical vision.