Logic Producer Certificate Course

Level 1 Overview

This week, we’ll be getting straight into recording audio and MIDI with Logic Pro. We’ll be looking at recording different types of instruments, editing your performances after recording them, using loops, how to start putting a track together in the Workspace, and also some tips for mixing various instruments together.

Lesson Goal

Learn the fundamentals of composing and producing using Logic Pro while creating a series of musical sketches.

Download Course Materials

Action

Shortcut

————————
Play/Stop Spacebar
Record R
Open Preferences Window Cmd + ,
Go to Beginning  Enter
Add Tracks  Cmd + Shift + N
Left Click Tool Menu T + 1,2,3,4,5 etc.
More Shortcuts…


Assignments 1A & 1B

Assignment 1A

Your first assignment is to check out the following helpful resources. Most of them are online, so follow the links then bookmark them in your browser.

Essential Resources

  • The Secret Sound Facebook group is a great place to ask questions, share opinions and meet likeminded producers and DJs.
  • Pensado’s Place is a weekly YouTube show, presented by Grammy Award winning mixer Dave Pensado and his manager Herb Trawick, featuring interviews with the créme de la créme of the audio production industry. It’s a wealth of knowledge, both from a technical and professional standpoint, and it’s usually entertaining. You can play it on your phone while you cook, or take the bus or the car to work…
  • There are thousands of brilliant production tutorials available on YouTube. Some of the best come from Point Blank and Dubspot.
  • Sound On Sound is a great monthly publication, available in print or online. Perfect for finding reviews of gear, as well as tutorials and other audio news.
  • Gearslutz is one of the world’s biggest audio forums and can be a great place to pick up tips and discuss all things audio.

Recommended Reading

Two excellent resources here on mixing and mastering audio. Both books contain a great wealth of technical information, coupled with an appreciation of its artistic applications:

  • Izhaki, Roey (2008). Mixing Audio: Concepts, Practices and Tools. Oxford: Focal Press.
  • Katz, Bob (2007). Mastering Audio: The art and the science (Second Edition). Canada: Focal Press.

Assignment 1B

Using the methods we’ve covered, you must produce three new sketches.

Each sketch should include all of the following (at least!), but you are encouraged to go further and add more tracks if you feel like it:

    1. A rhythmic element. This can be a drum loop, or you could record shakers, or clapping, or beatboxing… Anything goes, as long as it provides a rhythmic bed for your track.
    2. A bass line. This could be a deep synth, or recorded bass guitar, or double bass, or a bass voice…
    3. A sequence of chords. You could use a synth, or record a guitar, or a harp, or a piano…
    4. A melody line. You might use a synthesizer, or your voice, or a friend’s voice, or a glockenspiel, or a harmonica…
    5. Use the mixer to balance the levels of each channel, and use the pan pots to place the instruments appropriately in the stereo field
    6. Get creative with effects! Try lots of effects and combinations, and don’t be scared to turn all the dials – you never know what you’ll come up with. Do bear in mind also that effects aren’t always necessary – sometimes ‘clean’ is the perfect sound. In this case though, we want to explore lots of sonic possibilities.

Assignment Submission

  1. Bounce your track as a 44.1khz, 16bit WAV file.
  2. Upload your track to Soundcloud. If you don’t have an account already, the sign up process is easy and the service is free.
  3. When your track is uploaded, put the tracks in a Soundlcloud Playlist (read more here), click the Share button to get a link to the set, then email the link to ross@secretschoolofsound.ie with your name in the body of the email.

Level 2 Overview

Get comfortable with Logic Pro as you begin to develop your short sketches into full arrangements. Explore Logic’s powerful tools for transforming audio, including Flex Time and the EXS24 sampler. By the end of level 2, you’ll be comfortable with Logic’s core production tools, and have your first full track composed.

Lesson Goal

Develop a sketch from Level 1 into a full-length arrangement.

Download Course Materials

Action

Shortcut

————————
Play/Stop Spacebar
Record R
Open Preferences Window Cmd + ,
Go to Beginning  Enter
Add Tracks  Cmd + Shift + N
Left Click Tool Menu T + 1,2,3,4,5 etc.
More Shortcuts…


2.1. Note Values, Time Signatures and Tempo

Note Values in Logic's Piano Roll

Note Values

  • The note at the bottom is known as a whole note. The U.S. and the U.K. use different names for notes: in the UK system this would be known as a semibreve. We’re going to stick with the American system and call this a whole note. It’s called a whole note because it fills up a whole bar. We’ll get to what a bar is in just a minute.
  • The notes above this are called 1/2 notes, because each one lasts half a bar. It takes two 1/2 notes to make a full bar.
  • Above that we have four 1/4 notes. It takes four 1/4 notes to make a full bar.
  • There are eight 1/8 notes in bar, sixteen 1/16 notes, thirty-two 1/32 notes, sixty-four 1/64 notes etc.

For a tutorial on expressing these values in music notation, click here.

Time Signatures

  • This is a good time to talk about Time Signatures, or meter. If you look at the top of the screen, beside the metronome button you will see the Time Signature display. By default this is set to 4/4, also known as Common Time.
  • The time signature determines how many beats there will be in a bar, and what length each of these beats will be.
  • 4/4 means there will be four 1/4 notes in a full bar, or to put it more simply, four beats in a bar.

Tempo and BPM

Most dance music is in 4/4 time, usually at a tempo between 120 and 140 beats per minute, or BPM (for instance, the tempo of most House tracks is 126-128BPM).

If a song is at 120BPM, this means there will be 120 quarter notes per minute. In other words, there will be 2 beats every second. So if a song was at 60BPM, there would be one beat every second – the tempo of the second hand on a clock is 60BPM.

  • If we change the time signature to 4/8, each bar will be four 1/8 notes long.
  • If we change the time signature to 6/8, each bar will be six 1/8 notes long.

Assignments 2A & 2B

Assignment 2A

Deconstruct a song of your choice. Analyse the track structure, and observe how various devices have been used to maintain the listener’s attention and add drama and tension to the production. You can refer to any of the provided tutorial sets (“Get Lucky”, “White Noise” or “Levels”) to see how other track structures might be broken down.

  1. Select a track by an artist you admire. Create a new project and drop the song into the Workspace.
  2. Use the warp function to determine the track tempo, in order to have the song conform to the grid.
  3. Use the Split command to cut the clip into sections. This will usually include an introverseschoruses, a bridge and outro section. There are also variations on this which might include a prechorus, or breakdownsbuildups and drops in electronic music. Check out this article on Music Radar for a more detailed discussion of song structure and form.
  4. Label the various sections, and use a consistent colour scheme to help visualise the song structure.
  5. Observe what happens from section to section and use markers to make notes of how energy and tension are created or released as the song develops.

Assignment 2B

  1. Take what you have learned from your deconstruction and apply it to one of the sketches from Assignment 1B.
  2. You can use the track structure from your deconstruction as a template for developing your own sketch in to a full length production.
  3. Add a Drum Rack and program your own beats. Experiment with a few different kits to find a sound you like (for example, the Kit Core 808 or Kit Core 909) You’ll need a few clips with some variations to keep help the energy of your track ebb and flow. Try starting simple (maybe just a four on the floor kick pattern), then developing more complex beats as you approach and hit the chorus of your track (maybe add hi hats, shakers/maracas, cowbells, toms etc). You could drop the intensity back down for the second verse, then build again to hit the second chorus etc. You could use the loop from from Assignment 1B to add additional energy, or provide a sonic contrast between sections.
  4. Add at least one Sampler instrument. Load it with a sample of your choice (any audio file) and use the controls to manipulate how the sample is played back and looped. This instrument could provide another hook that will help add energy and interest to your production.
  5. Apply the devices you observed in your song analysis (Assignment 2A) to build energy, tension and drama in your production. This could include adding instruments or parts to build energy, using busier (more intense) parts, or temporarily dropping out parts to build tension.
  6. Use the mixer to balance the levels of each channel, and use the pan pots to place the instruments appropriately in the stereo field
  7. Get creative with effects! Try lots of effects and combinations, and don’t be scared to turn all the dials – you never know what you’ll come up with. Do bear in mind also that effects aren’t always necessary – sometimes ‘clean’ is the perfect sound.

Assignment Submission

  1. Bounce your track as a 44.1khz, 16bit WAV file.
  2. Upload your track to Soundcloud. If you don’t have an account already, the sign up process is easy and the service is free.
  3. When your track is uploaded, put the tracks in a Soundlcloud Playlist (read more here), click the Share button to get a link to the set, then email the link to ross@secretschoolofsound.ie with your name in the body of the email.

Level 3 Overview

Dive into synthesis and process sounds to add a unique sonic fingerprint to your music. Learn the fundamentals of analog-style subtractive synthesis to create basses, leads, pads, and sound effects using Ableton Live’s powerful library of software instruments. Explore fundamental mixing and effects processing concepts.

Lesson Goal:
Create and process original sounds to add to your music. Save the sounds you create to begin building your own library of sounds. Study alternative methods of composition and streamline your workflow.

Download Course Materials

Action

Shortcut

————————
Play/Stop Spacebar
Record R
Open Preferences Window Cmd + ,
Go to Beginning  Enter
Add Tracks  Cmd + Shift + N
Left Click Tool Menu T + 1,2,3,4,5 etc.
More Shortcuts…


Assignment 3A

Assignment 3A

Compose a track from scratch, using either Drummer or the Ultrabeat drum machine (or both!), the ES2 synthesizer, and the EXS24 Sampler. Use these ideas to sequence a complete song, drawing from the work of other artists in your genre to inform the structure and dynamics of your track.

*NB* You may ONLY use Ultrabeat, Drummer, ES2 and EXS24! While you may use preset kits for Drummer and Ultrabeat, your synthesizer and sampler patches must be designed from scratch!

  1. Create a rhythm in Ultrabeat with at least three variations, each in a separate clip.
  2. Add a bass line using a bass patch in ES2. Compose at least two variations on this bass line.
  3. Add another instance of ES2 to compose a sequence of chords. There must be at least two variations on this sequence (the variations can be rhythmic or harmonic).
  4. Add another instance of ES2, and use the volume envelope controls to design a pad sound (slow attack and slow release). Compose at least two different clips with this instrument. 
  5. Add another instance of ES2 and design a lead sound that makes use of the filter controls, the volume envelope, and the LFO controls. Compose at least two different clips with this instrument.
  6. You must now take the ideas you have produced and build a full song (approx. 2-3 minutes long). You can refer to your track deconstructions from Assignment 2A to guide the structure of this arrangement. 
  7. Your arrangement must incorporate at least 3 examples of automation. These could include volume fades, filter sweeps on the synthesizers (MMF Cutoff or LPF Cutoff on the ES2), panning changes, LFO rate changes on the lead instrument… 

Assignment 3A Submission

  1. Bounce your track as an mp3 and either upload to Soundcloud, or email as an attachment to ross@secretschoolofsound.ie 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tvghu-di5cE

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