With the addition of Live Looping, Logic Pro X is continuing its journey to becoming the ‘one stop shop’ for composers and producers of all genres. While we had a glimpse of what was to come in GarageBand for iOS, Live Looping has been ‘built out’ for Logic Pro X in a huge way. For those of you that have never even glanced at a cell-based DAW like Ableton Live, here’s how to get up and running with Live Looping in 5 easy steps.
The easiest way to get started is to open up the handy ‘Live Looping’ template. This will set you up with the ‘grid of boxes’. Those boxes are called cells. Think of a cell like a loop from the loop library. It’s a short musical idea that you either play or simply drag from your loop library on the right side. It might be 2 measures long, it might be 4 measures long. The cell might play one time and then stop, or it might repeat indefinitely until you tell all repeating cells to stop.
These cells behave similarly to tracks in LPX. A cell might contain a bit of audio data, so it would be assigned to an audio track - or it might contain MIDI data, and then have to be assigned to an instrument track to play things back. You’ll want to set up the instruments and audio tracks you plan to use before you get started. Try setting up a drum virtual instrument and a bass one from the library. When you have that track selected, you’ll be able to play your MIDI controller and make sound, just as you normally do.
Image - record and trim as needed
All right, it’s time to get started! Click on a cell that is in the same horizontal row as your drum track. Now is a good time to turn that metronome on. You can trigger recording into a cell with ‘Option-R’, or you can simply ‘right click’ and choose ‘record into cell’. It’s time to get OUT of the habit of using the transport controls at the top, that’s for when we want to craft a song out of these cells later on.
Once you’ve recorded something, you’ll want to polish off your loop by editing the start and end points. Take a look at the inspector on the left side of the screen, and you can see where the start/end points are. You can quantize, you can open up the cell in the piano roll editor and make some tweaks as needed, and you can even record AGAIN into the cell to create a more complex part with the ‘merge’ function (which should be enabled by default).
After you’ve recorded some drums into your cells, it’s time to add some more instruments! Every cell that is in the same ‘column’ vertically can play at the same time. Cells that are in the same row ‘horizontally’ are different ‘choices’ you can use for that instrument. There is a little carat at the bottom of the column you can click, and that will play the scene. So if you’ve recorded a drum part and a bass part into scene 1, clicking on the number one at the bottom of the column will play those parts at the same time.
You can, of course, trigger individual cells by clicking on the play buttons for that cell, but this is a great way to build verses, choruses, and other parts of your song. Even if you don’t plan on performing live with cells, using live looping templates is a GREAT way to ‘work out’ the parts of a song and combine short ideas into a larger song!
Now that you’ve got a bunch of ideas recorded into cells, you can use those transport controls to record your performance! Click the record button, and assemble your song using the scenes and by triggering individual cells as needed. Congrats! You’ve created your first Live Looping masterpiece! We’ll continue to dive into Live Looping and explore the functionality deeper next month.