7 Ways to Transform MIDI Drums in Logic Pro X

Logic Pro X is well known for being a flexible and powerful MIDI editor. In this tutorial Gary Hiebner shows how to use its advanced functions to transform rhythmic MIDI patterns.  

Logic is a power horse when it comes to its MIDI editing and functions. What I really like is using the Transform window, and in particular the transform presets you can choose from to quickly edit your MIDI drum performances. Let’s take a look at some of these options and what they can do for your drum productions.

Accessing the MIDI Transform Window presets 

The actions I’m gonna show you can be found in the MIDI Transform presets window. And you can get to this either by opening up your MIDI region and then navigating to the Functions menu and then down to MIDI Transform. 

Functions Menu

Or you can select your MIDI region, and then go to the Window menu and choose Open MIDI Transform (or use the shortcut Command-9)

Open MIDI Transform

1. Fixed Velocity 

The MIDI Transform window can be a bit daunting with all the different event conditions and how they passed through, and that is why I’m going to show you how to use the presets for this. The first action I want to show you is how to set a fixed velocity to your MIDI drums. I find sometimes if I record in a kick drum part, later I might decide that I want the kick part to be the same velocity the whole way through the song. To do this, select your MIDI region (this will take action on the whole MIDI part not just the selected notes. So if you have your drums all in one part, then rather separate them onto different tracks so you can apply these actions). Then go to the MIDI transform window and choose fixed velocity. You’ll notice in the graph how the velocity has been flattened, showing they will all be the same, and then click Select and Operate. Now your velocities will all be the same. 

Fixed Velocity 

2. Random Velocity

Or maybe you have played or programmed in quite a stiff performance. Then you can select the region, and apply the Random Velocity function to help randomize the velocities so they feel less rigid. See how it changes up the velocities on your notes? And you can keep applying this to add more randomization to your velocities. 

Random Velocity

You can also set a minimum and maximum range for the velocity. By default, this is set to a minimum of 40 and max of 127. But change these up and see how they work. 

Min Max Range


3. Humanizing your Drums 

What also works really well is to humanize your drum parts. With this you can choose to randomize the note position, its velocity and the note length. This preset has very fine parameters set for these. These fine randomizations will impart a human feel to your drums. When you program in your drums or hard quantize them they can lose the feel they originally hard, but this preset can help bring that back. 

Humanize Drums

4. Building Crescendos 

A feature I really like is the Crescendo option. This works great for example if you want to build up a smooth crescendo with some toms, or snare rolls. When you select this option, under the Position section you can choose how long you want the crescendo to be. I’ve set mine to be 6 bars. And then under the Velocity section you can set the min and maximum value. 


5. Velocity Limiter 

Sometimes what I find is that I’ll hit some keys on my controller too hard and these will stand out too much in the performance. So instead of dropping all the velocities, it’s quite nice to use the Velocity limiter preset. This way I can choose to set the limit at let’s say 100, so none of my notes will go over 100 when this is applied. 

Velocity Limiter

So most of these presets have dealt with velocity changes. These go a long way to improve your MIDI drums, but let’s now look at some other options that alter the overall timing of the drums. 

6. Double Timing 

After programming a drum part, I often find that I want to double the timing. This is where the Double Speed option comes in. Select this option and you’ll see in that there is a division of 2 set, which will double the time. This is for the position and length. Maybe you want to double the position but retain the note length. Then keep the length set to 1. 

Or maybe you want to increase the timing halfway between the normal time and double time. Then set both of these parameters to 1,5. So if your part is 8 bars, it will now be 6 bars. 

Double Speed

7. Half Time

A good trick to do with drums to create some interest in your tracks is to take the pattern and then in the next cycle have the drums in half time. You can use the Half Speed preset for this. Select this option and you’ll see that the position and length are now multiplied by 2 instead of being divided like the double speed preset. 

Half Speed

If you do choose this option in your arrangement, your region will still be the same length. But if you drag it out, you’ll see the extra parts of the half-time speed on the drums. So if your original part was 4 bars and you used the half-speed, drag your region out for another 4 bars, so it’s now 8 bars and you’ll see the whole half-time MIDI part. 


That’s some ways that you can use the MIDI Transform functions to speed up your MIDI editing and to quickly change your programmed drum parts. Go explore this Transform window to see how these presets work, and try them out in your next production!

Learn Logic Pro X in the AskAudio Academy here.

Gary Hiebner is an enthusiastic South African Sound Designer and Apple Tech Head! Gary has been involved in the South African music industry for the decade, and in this time has also been involved in the sound design and music production for many advertising agencies and media houses. Gary is a devoted Logic and Ableton user, but he al... Read More


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