Step-time Sequencing in Logic Pro X: Step-By-Step (Continued)

Mark Cousins continues his guide through step-time sequencing and begins to add new elements and effects to the mix…

step-time sequencing

7. Choose some of the notes you want to accent and then raise their velocity to the highest setting. Settings on the Retro Synth mean that the accented notes will have more filter enveloping and greater amplitude.


8. With the sequence programmed, you might want to adjust some of the sound parameters. Try changing to a Square wave, adjusting the Cutoff and Resonance, or modifying the filter Decay/Release times.

9. Another parameter worth tweaking (though not part of an original TB-303) is the step length, which is set by the relative length of each note in the sequence. Shortening the notes will create a more clipped sequence.

10. The classic TB-303 often involved manually raising or lowering the Cutoff over the duration of the song. To add this to your sequence, therefore, enable Track Automation and set Retro’s Synth Cutoff control as the parameter.


11. Adding distortion was another integral part of the classic TB-303 sound. Try adding an instance of Pedalboard and experiment with the different types of distortion pedals. In this case, Rawk seems to deliver the best tone.

12. Another optional piece of the FX equation is delay. Use a tempo-synced setting, but ensure you roll off a proportion of the low-end (using the Low Cut parameter) so that the bass doesn’t start to become too cluttered.

Step Alchemy
Step sequencing appears in various places in Logic Pro X. Alchemy’s step sequencer can be used for a variety of modulation applications. For more information, see this previous Logic workshop.

13. Classic step-time sequencers weren’t always used to control pitch, but could be applied to parameters like Cutoff. The Arpeggiator MIDI effect’s ‘extended’ features can be used for step time-like sequencing treatments.

14. Moving over to Grid mode, you can specify a velocity level of each step of the arpeggio, much the same as a CV sequencer. Increase the Vel slider on the filter and the Arpeggiator will dynamically control the filter.

15. One really useful option is the ability to move between an arpeggiated step and chord triggering. Try setting chords on steps 1, 4, 7, 10, 13 and 16 and set the range over three octaves. The line now appears almost random.

16. As before, the sound works in conjunction with the step-time sequencing, so it’s worth tweaking the controls. Ensure the filter Decay/Release is suitably quick; adjust the Vel level to set the filter modulation.

17. The Options tab has a number of important controls worth appraising. Note Length sets the duration of each step, and you can also use the Swing control to give the Step sequence a unique shuffle feel.

18. These types of sequencer-driven sounds work well with a small amount of added reverb. You may also choose to automate some of Retro Synth’s other parameters, with the filter’s Release time being an obvious candidate.