Part 3 of our tutorial covering the new features of Logic Pro X – in this part we examine the retro synth, the arpeggiator and flex pitch.
Retro Synth and the Arpeggiator
1: The Arpeggiator and Retro Synth are a great combination of new features worth exploring together. The new channel strip makes the signal path easy to understand. First, insert the Arpeggiator as a MIDI plug-in using the plug-in slot just below the EQ. Follow this with an instance of Retro Synth in the Instrument slot that follows on.
2:The Arpeggiator works as a live modifier, so whatever you play will arpeggiated accordingly. Start by experimenting with the Note Order section to define the key properties of the arpeggiation effect. The graphic buttons define the movement of the notes (Up, Down, Up/Down, Random and so on), while the Oct Range controls defines the span of the arpeggiation in octaves.
3: Try changing the Pattern mode from Live to Grid to see the real power behind the Arpeggiator. In Grid mode, you can specify a unique Velocity level for each step, remove steps altogether (this is useful to create rhythm), as well as changing from single notes to chords. In Chord mode, the current held notes are played together, rather than being stepped through.
4: Tweaking some key parameters on the Retro Synth can really help bring your Arpeggiator sequence to life. Start in the filter section, changing the filter mode to LP 24dB Fat and adding a touch of resonance in the filter display. The resonance gives the sound more nasal bite, as well as adding more excitement when the filter starts to move.
5: To make the filter movement more dynamic, take a closer look at Filter Env. Create a more percussive sound by lowering the sustain level and increasing the speed of the initial decay. The result is a spikier envelope, which sounds best when the Env (or Envelope Depth) parameter is backed-off in the filter section.
6: The final piece of the puzzle is using Velocity to directly control Filter Cutoff, rather than via the Envelope. Reduce the Vel slider in the Filer Env, therefore, and open up the Settings screen. On the Settings screen you can map Velocity through to Filer Cutoff, raising the fader (assuming you’ve turned down the main filter cutoff) to make it more dramatic.
1: Flex Pitch offers a Melodyne-like pitch correction tool from directly within Logic and works as an extension to the existing Flex Time system. First, enable the Flex View using the menu command Edit > Show Flex Pitch/Time. Assign the track a Flex mode, in this case selecting the Flex Pitch from the top of the drop-down list.
2: Opening the Editors window and select one of the vocal regions to see the current Flex Pitch information. As well as the main waveform, you’ll see a form of piano roll editor to indicate the relative note pitches. Within each block is also a pitch tracking display, indicating pitch drift at the end or the start of note, as well as vibrato.
3: One quick fix for vocal is a simple pitch quantize across the entire part. You can see the current intonation issues by the misalignment of the notes. This can either be corrected manually, or by cltrl-clicking on the display. Pick ‘Set all to Perfect Pitch’ from the two available options, and the part should be corrected accordingly.
4: Once you’ve corrected the general intonation issues, you can also start to look at a few creative tweaks to your original vocal performance. One interesting option is to explore a completely re-pitched vocal part (by dragging each note to a new position), which can be useful either in terms of adapting the melody or creating backing vocals.
5: The small nodes at the borders of each note can be used to change a variety of note properties. The middle node on the bottom, for example, can be used to change to amount of vibrato applied – either exaggerating an existing vibrato pattern, or smoothing out the pitch drift to make a more uniform sound.
6: Other nodes in Flex Pitch cover Formants and Pitch Drift at either end of the note. Another useful control for vocal parts is the Gain parameter, which lets you modify the dynamic properties of the performance on a note-by-note basis. Rather than over-compressing a vocal to make all the words audible, consider lifting their amplitude using Flex Pitch.