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Apple Logic 9: Adding Variation to your Beats and Loops
Rounik Sethi on Fri, August 27th 2 comments
Logic Pro 9 comes bundled with a huge number of loops and presets and patterns for it's drum synth/sampler, Ultrabeat and the EXS24. One of the problem with using loops (and even your own recordings

Logic Pro 9 comes bundled with a huge number of loops and presets and patterns for it's drum synth/sampler, Ultrabeat and the EXS24. One of the problem with using loops (and even your own recordings) in your projects is the lack of variation. In some styles of music having the same beat throughout your song might sound great... but what if it eventually grates on the listener? Well, one solution is in the mixing stage. Using automation to emphasize parts of your arrangement (by automating levels and effects) might be enough. But often during the arrangement process you may want to create your own variations of patterns and rhythms too.

Manipulating MIDI patterns (e.g. Ultrabeat patterns or other Green Apple Loops) is easy in the Piano Roll or using the Transform window, but if you have an Audio loop, there are a couple of quick techniques that can help too.

Technique 1 - Convert to Sampler Instrument Track

In Logic 9, you can effortlessly convert your audio loops into sampler instruments for the EXS24. Not only does Logic analyze the audio file and maps each transient of the audio region to the sampler instrument for you... it also creates a new track with the Sampler Instrument and even places a MIDI region on that track with the original pattern intact! Now you can use any of Logic's MIDI editors to easily re-arrange the pattern.

For more info on how this feature works check out this earlier Blog post on "Convert to New Sampler Track".

Technique 2 - Cut and Shuffle

One of my favourite and most used techniques to add variation to a loop is to cut up the region into equal segments and then shuffle the regions (like shuffling a pack of playing cards!) Here's how...

Step 1

 First, get your region, in my case a drum loop and select the scissors tool.

Step 2

Hold down the Option key and click with the scissor tool at the first point within the region where you'd like to begin creating equal segments. For example, to create multiple regions (each being 1 beat in length) Option-cut on the first beat of the region.

Step 3 

Now you have a region divided into equal segments. To make this demonstration for shuffling easier to understand visually, I've colored each of the regions (from dark red on the left to a shade of blue on the right).

Step 4

Switch the Drag mode in the Arrange area to Shuffle L. Shuffle modes are very powerful and one of their uses is to swap regions by dropping them ontop of each other. The regions will automatically shuffle or align themselves to the next region border (in those mode to it's left). Overlap mode is disabled when in Shuffle mode...

Try it out by dragging a region within the cut-up loop on top of it's neighbour, or one of the other segments. With just a few drags you'll have created sonic variations!

Step 5

Remember to switch the Drag mode back to Overlap or No Overlap once you're finished shuffling your regions!

This is just one method you can use to add variations to drum or melodic parts in Logic. Try experimenting with non rhythmic loops or your own recordings for some very interesting effects. If you are experiencing pops and clicks between each audio region consider adding a gentle crossfade between the regions.

Interested on more Logic tips? Check out the largest and highest quality video training for Logic available here.

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Comments (2)

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  • Hamish H
    Hi Rounik This is great stuff, and I use the 'slicing' method a lot - especially with samples where the whole drum kit has been recorded. Another method I like is a bit more hands on, and makes me feel like I'm 'playing' the loops. I thought you might appreciate it: Use two samples of the same drum kit (generally you can find variations of the same drum kit in sample packs). Put the samples on two different audio tracks (eg channel 1 and channel 2). Assign the output of each audio track to a bus (eg bus 13) then create a new audio track (channel 3) with bus 13 as the input. Set the new audio track to record. Loop the samples on channel 1 and 2 for about a minute or so, match the volume levels as best you can, then mute one channel. Set up an external controller to allow you to swap the mute from channel 1 to 2 by pushing a button. - I use a Novation Zero Go back to the start and start recording onto channel 3. Then use an external controller to swap the 'mute' from one channel to another. With some practice you can get it sounding like the drummer is improvising fills. record all the different variations that you like! (PS this is really great if you like a bit of 'human error' in your mixes) Thanks for all your advice Rounik I look forward to your next post! Hamish
    • 10 years ago
    • By: Hamish H
  • Rounik Admin
    This is a great technique Hamish! Thanks for sharing. I'm looking forward to trying this out :) btw, if you have any suggestions for future posts (Logic, Final Cut, OSX, iLife, Photoshop, etc...) do let me know :) Thanks again!
    • 10 years ago
    • By: Rounik Admin
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