Creating Music in Logic Express

Logic Express can be used in a variety of ways, ranging from the simple to the incredibly sophisticated. The following section outlines a common workflow example that many projects adhere to.

  1. Stage 1: Creating a Project

    You begin working in Logic Express by creating a new project, or opening an existing one.

    A project file contains MIDI data recordings plus information about the audio and other files used, including pointers to these files.

    All files (audio, video, samples, and so on) can be saved in a project folder. All project files are automatically placed into appropriate sub-folders within the project folder.

    More details can be found in Understanding the Basics of Projects and Regions.

  2. Stage 2: Creating and Importing Your Musical Material

    Getting musical material into Logic Express can basically be broken down into two methods:

    • Making new audio or MIDI data recordings (the latter can be played back through either external MIDI synthesizers or software instruments).

    • Importing existing audio recordings (audio files, samples, loops) or MIDI (and other file data) into your projects. You can import existing audio recordings by simply dragging them from the Media area, shown at the right of the Arrange window.

    Recordings are made through suitable MIDI or audio hardware that is connected to, or installed in, your Mac.

    MIDI recordings are used to trigger (play back through) either external MIDI devices, such as synthesizers, or internal software instruments. Software instruments are played back through your audio interface or the Mac audio outputs. Not only can you record the notes of your performance, but you can also record and play back information such as synthesizer parameter changes—all in real time.

    Audio recordings can be made by playing an instrument (such as a guitar) or singing into a microphone, for example.

  3. Stage 3: Arranging and Editing

    Once your musical material has been imported or recorded into Logic Express, you will generally organize it into a “project structure.” This is done in the main Logic Express window, called the Arrange window.

    Musical material appears as rectangular blocks, known as regions. These regions run from left to right across the Arrange area, and are positioned on vertically stacked lanes, known as tracks. You may freely copy, repeat, loop, move, shorten, lengthen, or delete regions—either on a track or across tracks. This grid-like layout and the use of building blocks (regions) make it easy to see, and create, the overall song structure.

    There will be many occasions when you’ll need to perform more detailed edits to your MIDI or audio data recordings than is possible at the region level. Logic Express offers a number of editing windows that allow you to modify your musical material at a variety of levels. For example, this might be useful if:

    • You have made a recording of a great main vocal performance, but can hear a thud in the silent passages between two phrases, where the vocalist kicked the microphone stand. It probably goes without saying that this isn’t a sound you’d like to have on the finalized CD. No problem. Simply edit the recording by inserting silence during the thud, or perhaps cut that portion out of the recording entirely.

    • You have made a MIDI keyboard recording that is perfect except for one note that should have been a C, but is a B. No problem. Simply drag the MIDI note event from B to C.

    More details can be found in Understanding the Basics of Projects and Regions.

  4. Stage 4: Mixing, Automating, and Using Plug-ins

    Following the creation of your arrangement and any edits that may have been required, you would commonly move on to the mixing phase of your project. Mixing, as a term, generally refers to balancing the relative levels of each song component. Put another way, the main vocal needs to be louder than the bass, guitars, drums, and keyboards, thus allowing the lyrics to be heard.

    Mixing also entails the use of audio effects, which change, enhance, or suppress particular song components, adding up to a unified and polished final product. Logic Express features numerous effects that can be used to turn your basic song into a professionally finished project.

    Logic Express allows you to record, or automate, changes you make to track, instrument, and effect parameters, such as volume, pan, filters, and other controls. This can be done in real time or offline with the mouse or an external MIDI device. These changes play back when you play the project, and can be edited independently of the musical material. This is very useful for a number of reasons:

    • You can only adjust one level or setting of a playback track, if using the computer mouse. The ability to record and play back multiple adjustments of all track elements allows for a sophisticated mix.

    • Performances are rarely consistent. For example, a vocalist will often sing louder or softer during different sections of his or her performance, so you may need to even out these level changes over the course of the song, or to balance the soft and loud vocal sections against the musical backing.

    • Song dynamics (the loud and soft sections of a song) benefit from animation. In other words, building the intensity of a song section can often be achieved by gradual or immediate level changes. Songs that are of a consistent level throughout tend to sound flat and lifeless.

  5. Stage 5: Exporting and Bouncing

    The final step of the Logic Express music creation process is exporting your final product. Logic Express allows you to produce a stereo file of your completed mix in a variety of audio file formats. You can also produce several stem files, formatted for most common Surround encoding schemes. You do this in the Bounce window; simply choose the desired outcome(s) in the available menus and click the onscreen Bounce button. You can even burn a stereo mix directly to a CD or DVD, or create an MP3, with one simple step.